What is diaper rash?
Diaper rash is any rash that develops inside the diaper area. In mild cases, the skin might be red. In more severe cases, there may be painful open sores. It is usually seen around the groin and inside the folds of the upper thighs and buttocks. Mild cases clear up within 3 to 4 days with treatment.
What causes diaper rash?
Over the years diaper rash has been blamed on many causes, such as teething, diet, and ammonia in the urine. However, we now believe it is caused by any of the following:
Too much moisture
Chafing or rubbing
When urine, stools, or both touch the skin for long periods of time
Allergic reaction to diaper material
When skin stays wet for too long, it starts to break down. When wet skin is rubbed, it also damages more easily. Moisture from a soiled diaper can harm your baby's skin and make it more prone to chafing. When this happens, a diaper rash may develop.
More than half of babies between 4 and 15 months of age develop diaper rash at least once in a 2-month period. Diaper rash occurs more often when
Babies get older—mostly between 8 to 10 months of age.
Babies are not kept clean and dry.
Babies have frequent stools, especially when the stools stay in their diapers overnight.
Babies have diarrhea.
Babies begin to eat solid foods.
Babies are taking antibiotics, or in nursing babies whose mothers are taking antibiotics.
Which type of diaper should I use?
Diapers are made of either cloth or disposable materials. Cloth diapers can be washed after they get soiled and used again. Disposable diapers are thrown away after each use.
If you choose not to wash cloth diapers yourself, you can have a diaper service clean them. If you do your own washing, you will need to presoak heavily soiled diapers. Keep and wash soiled diapers separate from other clothes. Use hot water and double-rinse each wash. Do not use fabric softeners or antistatic products on the diapers because they may cause rashes in sensitive skin.
Research suggests that diaper rash is less common with the use of disposable diapers. However, what is more important than the type of diaper is how often it is changed. Whether you use cloth diapers, disposables, or both, always change diapers as needed to keep your baby clean, dry, and healthy.
Remember—never leave your baby alone on the changing table or on any other surface above the floor. Even a newborn can make a sudden turn and fall to the floor.
For more information, visit the official AAP Web site for parents, http://HealthyChildren.org.
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This publication has been developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. the author and contributors are expert authorities in the field of pediatrics. No commercial involvement of any kind has been solicited or accepted in the development of the content of this publication.