Nearly every baby gets diaper rash at one time or another. Most diaper rashes are caused by urine that rests too long against the skin. Bacterial action transforms urine into ammonia, which can irritate and burn your baby's skin. Diaper rash generally spreads from the genitals outward. It looks red and perhaps bumpy and can smell strongly of ammonia.
Here's what to do when your baby has diaper rash:
- Change your baby more often. Trapped moisture or feces can cause rashes.
- Give your child plenty of naked-bottom time; try to let her stay out of her diaper for at least 15 minutes every time you change her. Airing out her bottom can quickly cure many rashes.
- If your baby stays in roughly the same place when she naps, consider allowing her to sleep with a naked bottom. Keep the bedding dry by laying her on a rubber sheet and wedging a folded diaper under her.
- Switch, at least temporarily, from disposable to cloth diapers (or vice versa). The change may make a big difference.
- Don't use plastic or rubber pants that trap moisture next to your baby's skin. Check to make sure your baby wipes do not contain alcohol, which can dry your baby's skin too much. Consider switching, at least for a short time, to a wet washcloth.
- Keep your baby's bottom clean, but use little or no soap. If you do use soap, try a special baby soap that is hypoallergenic and contains no detergents. Always rinse your baby's bottom with a different washcloth to remove the soap. Dry the area thoroughly after every washing.
- Grease your baby's bottom with vegetable shortening or petroleum jelly.
- Use an over-the-counter ointment to treat the rash. Cream that contains zinc oxide often does the trick. Try more than one brand if the first brand doesn't work.
- If you wash your own diapers, don't use bleach, and make sure you wash and rinse diapers thoroughly. (Use more than one rinse cycle.)
If, after trying all these ideas, diaper rash persists or worsens, consult your baby's pediatrician for further advice.