DEFINITION--A form of contact dermatitis that causes skin irritation in the
diaper area of infants.
BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Skin around the genitals, rectum and abdomen in the area
covered by diapers.
SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--Infants and young children who wear diapers.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Moist, painful, red, spotty and itchy (sometimes) skin in the diaper area. The skin may
be cracked and fissured.
- In male infants, a red, raw and occasionally bloody area may appear around the meatus
(the opening at the tip of the penis).
CAUSES--Diaper rash results from skin irritation produced by substances in the
urine or stool.
RISK INCREASES WITH
- Infrequent diaper changes.
- Improper laundering of diapers.
- Family history of skin allergies.
- Hot, humid weather.
HOW TO PREVENT
- Change diapers frequently.
- Don't use waterproof diapers at night.
- Keep diapers clean. After washing, rinse them twice to remove detergents and other
- Leave diaper off for 10-30 minutes between diaper changes for air exposure.
What To Expect
- Your own observation of symptoms.
- Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
- Urinalysis to rule out urinary-tract infection, which may complicate healing
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE
- Home care after diagnosis.
- Doctor's treatment, if home treatment fails to cure the rash.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS--Secondary bacterial infection in the rash area.
PROBABLE OUTCOME--Usually curable with treatment. Recurrence is common.
How To Treat
- Expose the buttocks to air as much as possible.
- Change diapers frequently, even at night if the rash is extensive.
- Don't use soap or boric acid to wash the rash area. Cleanse with cotton dipped in
- Discontinue using baby lotion, powder, ointment or baby oil unless prescribed for you.
- Don't use packaged wipes that contain alcohol. They can cause overdrying of the skin
making it susceptible to irritants.
- Apply small amounts of non-prescription petroleum jelly, lanolin-based ointment or zinc
oxide ointment to the rash at the earliest sign of diaper rash, and 2 or 3 times a day
- Use boiling water to launder cloth diapers or use an antiseptic product manufactured for
the purpose. Avoid fabric softeners as they may cause the rash.
- If you use disposable diapers, switching to cloth diapers for period of time may help.
MEDICATION--Your doctor may prescribe medicated anti-inflammatory ointments or
creams, such as hydrocortisone, or antifungal cream such as miconazole, to apply to the
DIET--No special diet. Avoid foods that can make stools irritating (breads,
pasta, tomatoes and acidic fruit).
Call Your Doctor If
- Home treatment doesn't cure the rash in 1 week.
- The following occurs during treatment: Fever. Pustules in the rash area. Male infant has
a weak urinary stream. Female infant develops adhesions of the vaginal lips.