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Non-Infected Diaper Rash (Child)

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Diaper rash is a common skin irritation in young children. The rash is red, with small bumps or scales. It can spread quickly. Areas that have a rash can include the skin folds on the upper and inner legs, the genitals, and the buttocks.

Diaper rash is often caused by urine and feces. When urine and feces combine, they make ammonia. Ammonia is a chemical that irritates the skin. Young children’s skin can also be irritated by baby wipes, laundry detergent and softeners, and chemicals in diapers.

The best treatment for diaper rash is to change a wet or soiled diaper as soon as possible. The soiled skin should be gently cleaned with warm water. After the skin is air-dried, put a barrier cream or ointment like zinc oxide on the rash. Usually the rash will clear in a few days. If the rash is untreated, the skin can develop a yeast or bacterial infection.

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for your child at home:

  • Your child’s health care provider may tell you to use a barrier cream or ointment on the diaper rash. Follow the instructions for putting this on your child’s skin.

  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water before and after changing your child’s diaper.

  • Change your child’s diaper as soon as it is soiled. Always change the diaper at least once at night. Put the diaper on loosely.

  • Gently pat the area clean with a warm, wet soft cloth. Dried stool can be loosened by squeezing warm water on the area or adding a few drops of mineral oil. If you use soap, it should be gentle and scent-free.

  • Apply a thick layer of barrier cream or ointment on the rash. The cream can be left on the skin between diaper changes. New layers of cream can be safely applied on top of previous, clean layers. A layer of petroleum jelly can be put on top of the barrier cream. This will prevent the skin from sticking to the diaper.

  • Allow your child to go without a diaper for periods of time. Exposing the skin to air will help it to heal.

  • Don’t use a hair dryer or heat lamp on your child’s skin. These can cause skin burns.

  • Use a breathable cover for cloth diapers instead of rubber pants. Slit the elastic legs or cover of a disposable diaper in a few places. This will allow air to reach your child’s skin.

  • Don’t use powders such as talc or cornstarch.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s health care provider.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Rash doesn’t get better, or gets worse after several days of treatment

  • Blisters, open sores, raw skin, or bleeding

  • Signs of itching

  • Signs of infection, such as warmth, redness, swelling, or fluid leaking from the wound

  • Pain gets worse. Babies may show pain as crying or fussing that can’t be soothed.

 

 
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