Diaper rash mostly affects children under the age of 3 years. They are particularly common among infants but you can prevent their occurrence.
If you’re a parent frustrated by diaper rash on your child, you need to follow this article to get valuable tips on resolving the matter.
What is a Diaper Rash?
You’ve probably noticed a variation in the behavior of your child. They could be crying a lot, have trouble concentrating on an activity, and general stubbornness.
Your child has very minimal options to express discomfort. As such, you should look out for any noticeable change in behavior.
Immediately you notice this, you should try to discern the causes of the discomfort. Most parents tend to panic! While this is perfectly fathomable, you need to relax to enable you to diagnose the problem appropriately.
Most of the times, the children will be suffering from diaper rash! Check around the thighs and the bottoms to observe any changes.
If the child is suffering from diaper rash, you’ll observe the following symptoms:
- Skin reddening. This appears as inflamed patches on your child’s skin
- Tender-looking skin. The skin around the thighs, genitals, and the buttocks appears excessively soft
- Change of behavior. When you touch the diaper region, you’ll discover that the child is highly uncomfortable. Also, they will abnormally cry whenever you try to change the soiled diapers.
- Refusal to Play. While this can be a sign of many other diseases, you should check the diaper region to see whether there are unusual. Most toddlers will use any method to pass information since they can’t talk! If the child has no diaper rash, you should consult your pediatrician immediately!
What Causes Diaper Rash
A significantly large number of children under the age of 3 years will suffer from diaper rash at least once.
But what exactly causes the condition?
The physiology of the skin is such that there exists an acid mantle on the skin whose role is to protect it from infections. The presence of urine and fecal matter raises the skin pH which interferes with the mantle and makes the skin overly hydrated/ macerated. This is further complicated by the presence of fecal enzymes (protease and lipase) which are major irritants. The bile salts also contribute significantly to dismantling skin integrity leading to a breakdown of the skin and inflammation.
Well, there are other factors that will directly contribute to diaper rash including:
- Failure to Frequently Change the Diaper. While the diaper manufacturers have progressively improved on limiting the interaction of the child’s pee with the skin, you shouldn’t entirely buy that! If possible, we recommend that you change the diaper immediately it’s soiled. Note that this is not only about the diaper rash but also the child’s comfort.
- Too Much Friction between the Diapers and The Child’s Skin. This could be caused by two primary factors; failure to wear the diaper correctly or improper diaper structure due to manufacturer’s errors. To resolve this, you should ensure that you use the manufacturer’s instruction on the use of the product. Also, always ensure that the diaper has no sharp edges that can hurt the child as they walk. If you realize such, you should discontinue its use immediately and forward complaints to the manufacturer. Only use a diaper that will give your child optimum comfort; do not compromise!
- Allergic Reaction. Some children will develop allergic reactions against specific diapers. When you notice anything unusual whenever you use a certain brand, you should discontinue its use immediately. Try another diaper until you’re sure that your child is comfortable. In case you’re not sure, you can have a children’s allergist to help you determine whether your child is indeed allergic to certain diaper brands. Ensure that you stick to whichever brand you choose to use. Frequent changes of the diapers will undoubtedly affect the child.
- Yeast or Bacterial Infection. When your child has a bacterial infection, it can manifest as a diaper rash. If you realize that the rash is not disappearing even after taking corrective measures (as detailed herein), you should immediately talk to your pediatrician.
Sometimes, a harmless rash, known as cradle cap (or seborrheic dermatitis), may appear on the child’s skin. It usually presents as a red and scaly patch. This condition is entirely harmless to the baby and it resolves without medical intervention within a few days.
You realize that most of the factors that cause the condition are preventable. As such, it’s upon the mothers (and any other individual tasked with the responsibility of looking after the child) to ensure that they do not expose the child to the risk of developing diaper rash.
Levels of Diaper Rash
There are 5 stages that determine the severity of the condition. When your child’s diaper rash is severe, it’s recommended that you talk to your dermatologist about the condition. The five levels include:
- Slight. At this stage, the condition is not serious but should be arrested immediately. It usually presents as faint pinkness around the diaper zone
- Mild. The pinkness seen in the slight stage remains (the concentration could be relatively higher). Additionally, you may observe several bumpy/raised areas on the skin. The child’s discomfort level is heightened particularly when changing the diapers
- Moderate. At this stage, the pinkness is highly pronounced and, in some cases, you may observe redness. Raised bumps have increased in the diaper region
- Moderate to Severe. Presents with intense redness, increased in papules, skin peeling, and fluid-filled bumps. At this stage, you SHOULD contact your doctor!
- Severe. This is the last and the worst stage of diaper rash. It presents with intense redness and multiple pustules (fluid-containing bumps). Never try DIY techniques at this stage. Instead, you should rush to your pediatrician for specialized treatment
Factors that Increases the Chances of Developing a Diaper Rash
While diaper rash is a common phenomenon among children, there are several factors that increase the probability of their occurrence. They include:
- Age. The older your child becomes, the more likely they become susceptible to developing skin rashes. Children between the age of 9 and 12 months are particularly at a higher risk. As your child diversifies on their meals, their poop and pee may become more harmful to the skin. The new foods and drinks change the dynamic for the mothers; they now need to change the diapers more often! You’ll notice that the texture of the poop may not be as smooth as it used to be, right? The rough feel increases the friction between the diaper and the skin thus raising the chances of your child developing a rash.
- Sleeping in Soiled Diapers. No matter what happens, never allow your child to sleep with poopy diapers on! Always ensure that the child is in fresh diapers. The soiled diapers are not only uncomfortable but also a health risk to your child!
- Diarrhea Moments. When your child’s stool is too loose, they will pass it more frequently which increases the chances that they will remain with the poop for too long. In such cases, never tire to change them frequently for the love of your child.
- Taking Antibiotics. When the child is taking antibiotics, there are at a higher risk of developing skin rashes. This is the case even when a nursing mother breastfeeds their child. Wondering how taking antibiotics increases the risk of diaper rash? Well, these medicines destroy bacteria (both good and bad). While bacteria can cause diseases, some of them are highly beneficial to the body! For example, there are important bacteria that keep yeast infections at bay. If the antibiotics destroy these bacteria, the baby is likely to develop diaper rash associated with fungal infection. Additionally, the medicines can lead to increased cases of diarrhea which, if not well-managed, lead to diaper rash.
- Skin’s Sensitivity. Some children have highly sensitive skin that will develop rash at the slightest provocation. If you realize that with your child, it’s paramount that you avoid any product that can contain allergens. This may include all perfumed items!
What to Do When Your Child has Diaper Rash?
First, you need to relax! Diaper rash is a common occurrence in children and there is absolutely no reason to panic. After all, it’s easy to resolve; extremely easy!
Hygiene is the first and the most crucial requirement for treating diaper rash
- Always keep the Skin Clean. Before changing the child’s diapers, it’s necessary that you clean your hands!
- Always ensure that you clean the skin with friendly soaps. Avoid perfumed and fragranced soaps since the child may react negatively to such.
- After cleaning the skin, avoid rubbing it when drying. Instead, you should gently pat the region dry. Remember that the skin’s integrity is compromised by the fecal enzymes and the bile salts. If you rub it too hard, it will increase the irritations and cause more problems to the child!
- Use Non-Alcoholic Products. If you decide to use wipes, ensure that they do not have alcohol! This could cause irritation which will eventually worsen the problem.
- Change the Diapers Immediately They are Soiled. Do not compromise the comfort of your child. You should ensure that you change the diapers as soon as they are soiled. Immediately after removing the diaper, ensure that you clean the skin using warm water (Use your elbow to test the water-ensure it’s comfortable for you. You can also use a thermometer and ensure that the temperature is between 38 Degrees Celsius and 42 Degree Celsius)
- Avoid Using Soaps. When cleaning the area, you should use plain warm water only. Gently pat the region until clean (DO NOT RUB THE AREA)
If you feel that the rashes are too severe, you’d need to take extraordinary measures including using a squirt bottle to clean the diaper zone. Avoid rubbing the inflamed section of the skin.
Things to Avoid When Treating Diaper Rash
- Avoid fragranced products. If you’re a fan of fabric softeners and other perfumed products, you should keep away from them for a while. It’s recommended that you use hypoallergenic products only. This will reduce irritations thus enhancing your child’s comfort.
- Never Wear the Diapers too tightly. You should ensure that the child is comfortable in the diapers. Also, avoid tight clothes during the treatment period.
- Do Not Use Baby Powder/ Cornstarch. The child can easily inhale the powder which could lead to breathing difficulties. Also, some children may experience lung irritations and other allergic reactions.
Cornstarch may worsen rashes caused by Candida fungus
- Avoid diapers until the child recovers completely. Just let the child be! The skin will air well which will accelerate the healing process. You can do it after the bowel movement then allow 2 hours or so for a diaper-free environment.
When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?
Handling a toddler is the worst nightmare for any mother.
I mean, who wouldn’t be frustrated to have a crying child without knowing the exact cause of the discomfort?
If it gets unbearable, it could be signaling the need to consult a professional! Consistent and persistent crying and discomfort from the child should raise eyebrows.
While we’ve indicated that diaper rash is easily treatable at home, it should not persist for more than 3 days. If the treatment is not yielding fruits, it’s time to talk to your doctor. They will prescribe the right medicine or offer the necessary DIY advice.
It’s crucial that you realize that there are myriad reasons that can cause discomfort in children; diaper rash is just one reason for that.
If you’re unable to tell what the problem could be, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician for professional guidance!
If you note the following sings, you shouldn’t hesitate to talk to your pediatrician:
- When you realize that the rash is unusually severe at the beginning
- When the rash gets severe despite interventions
- When you realize any sign of bleeding, excessive itching, or any form of oozing
- When the child cries during urination or bowel movement
- If the rash is accompanied with fever
Bottom Line; Diaper Rash is Preventable!
Diaper rash is a condition that you can prevent by ensuring that you regularly change the diapers in hygienic conditions. However, don’t feel guilty when your child gets the rashes; it’s normal for toddlers!
You need to identify the specific stage of the diaper rash. If it’s NOT in the “Moderate to Severe” or “Severe” stages, then you can easily implement all the tricks we’ve detailed here and the problem will resolve within 3 days. If the condition does not disappear within this duration, it’s advisable that you consult your doctor.
Always ensure that your child does not overstay with the diapers. Remember that your child’s comfort is the topmost priority! Everything else is secondary.