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Feb 2015 | Volume 5, Number 2

Preventing and Treating Diaper Rash

To see Children's of Alabama experts discuss this topic, click here. 

Everyone wants a happy, healthy baby, but if your little one is in diapers, then it’s inevitable at some point he or she will likely have a diaper rash.  Diaper rash is a common condition that usually occurs because a baby’s sensitive skin has been irritated by diapers that are left on too long. The same plastic that prevents diapers from leaking also prevents air circulation, thus creating a warm, moist environment where rashes and fungi can thrive.

Diaper rash can be very uncomfortable for a little one, and in some cases may require medical treatment. Some signs of a diaper rash can include:

  • Soreness
  • Redness and red bumps
  • Peeling
  • Irritability

Identifying Infection:

Sometimes a diaper rash can also result in an infection due to yeast or bacteria. Seek medical care if your baby has any of the following symptoms:

  • Blisters or open sores
  • Pus filled sores
  • Fluid seeping from red areas

Traci Duncan is a Certified Nurse Practitioner at Children’s of Alabama with a focus on pediatric dermatology. She says the best way to treat and even prevent diaper rash is to use a barrier cream. Specifically, she says look for diaper rash creams that contain Zinc Oxide to heal and protect your baby’s skin. Duncan recommends smearing the cream on in a thick layer, as if icing a cake at each diaper change.

Types of Treatment:

  • Diaper rash creams with Zinc Oxide
  • Petroleum Jelly

Diaper rash can usually be cleared up by checking your baby’s diaper often and changing it as soon as it’s wet or soiled.  With treatment, the rash should usually go away within 2 or 3 days with home care.  If the rash persists, or if sores appear talk to your baby’s doctor.  You should also seek medical advice if the rash is accompanied by a fever, if there is pus draining from the rash, or if your child is irritable.


Duncan says in some cases, when a baby has sensitive skin, diaper wipes may cause irritation.  She recommends only using wipes in the case of a soiled diaper, not when it’s wet.  Instead, she says use a soft cloth and warm water when it’s just a wet diaper. Then allow the baby’s skin to dry completely before putting on a new diaper. Consider using a barrier diaper cream with each change, if the baby is prone to getting diaper rash.

The following are tips to help prevent diaper rash:

  • Keep the skin dry
  • Allow your baby time without a diaper
  • Change diaper frequently
  • Use warm water and diaper cream with each change

With these simple tips you can help ensure your baby stays comfortable and rash free, which makes for a happy baby and a happy mom and dad.

For more information on this and other health and safety tips, visit

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