Types of Diaper Rash and How to Treat Them
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You might think that your baby’s red rash down in that intimate area is a simple diaper rash that can be treated with a baby rash ointment.
But you might be surprised to find out that there are multiple types of diaper rash, and they can come from some surprising sources.
On top of this, each type of rash can need specific steps to solve, so making sure you’ve worked out which type of rash it is, is really important.
Luckily, we’re here to explain everything, so read on to find out what you need to know about diaper rashes, how to treat them, and the best way to prevent them.
The different types of diaper rash
Whilst most diaper rashes look the same at first glance, there are a few things that set them apart in appearance, and each different type of rash requires entirely different treatments.
A contact rash
Appearance: A little bit of redness, some irritation, occasionally with raised skin. Normally concentrated around the edges of the diaper, areas that the diaper puts pressure or ‘bunches’ on.
Cause: Being in wet diapers for too long
Treatment: Standard rash procedure. Diaper rash ointment, changing diapers more often and being careful around that area for a little while. If you’re comfortable and they’re comfortable, let them run free and naked for a while. Letting it breathe, without the pressure and chemicals of a diaper and any added irritation from any pee and poop can be the perfect thing for quick healing.
A contact rash, or irritant dermatitis, is the ‘normal’ sort of diaper rash, and the one that you’re most likely to see on a daily basis. If your baby has diaper rash, then it’s most likely to be this one.
Appearance: Raised skin, little red prickles or bumps, usually in or around creases and folds in the skin, so legs, bum or genitals.
Cause: The yeast bacteria candida that tends to cause all of these issues, in babies and in adults too. It lives on all of us, quite naturally, but thrives in warm and moist areas, like the inside of a diaper, and causes problems when it gets out of control.
Treatment: Over the counter topical creams like clotrimazole cream, or nystatin prescription cream from your doctor. Also, be sure to treat any cloth that has been in contact with affected areas. That means blankets, cloth diapers, and clothing.
Yeast rashes are also really common, and a sure sign that you might be dealing with a yeast rash is the rash not getting any better, or maybe even getting worse after a few days treatment.
Appearance: Bright red, stinging and painful, potentially even developing into skin issues and sores. It can almost resemble sunburn.
Cause: Multiple acidic poops, due to diet (lots of fruits and veggies) or stomach issues.
Treatment: Polysporin and diaper rash ointment, as strong as you can get it. Switch from cloth diapers to disposable for the period of the rash.
If your baby has a lot of sour smelling, odd-looking poops in one day and they start to develop a rash around that area, pay close attention. Remember that baby’s skin is super sensitive, especially to things like this, and it’s really easy to stop this from becoming a problem if you catch it early.
Appearance: Any and all of the above.
Cause: Potentially anything from food to soaps and shampoos, to clothing materials. Careful sleuthing is needed.
Treatment: Remove the thing that’s causing the allergy, after finding out what it is. It’s worth trying out different things now and then for baby, like shifting their diet slightly or changing detergents to something more gentle.
Allergy rashes are hard to diagnose and even harder to pin down. Because the baby is so sensitive, and their body is changing so fast, there’s no way of knowing just what they’re allergic to.
Pay careful attention to where the rash is placed. If it’s around the bum or genital area, then it’s more likely to be food, whereas if it’s relatively evenly placed or in areas that have a lot of contact with cloth or nappies then it could be materials or detergents used in washing.
I don’t think it’s a rash. What else might it be?
If the baby has inflamed or angry looking areas, it might not be a diaper rash at all. There are several other things that can occur in the same area that can look and feel like a rash, including:
If your baby’s skin is scaly or rough, with red patches, blisters or discharge, and if they’re itching at it often, it might be eczema.
Whilst it can be managed with over the counter medication, it’s normally best to speak to your doctor because you want to get it under control early.
Psoriasis is identified usually through itchy patches of skin across wider areas of the body, that might also be silvery or scaly. Talk to your doctor to be referred to a specific dermatologist. Psoriasis requires specialist treatment, but can easily be managed when treated early.
Highly contagious and relatively common, impetigo is caused by the same bacteria that causes staph infections and strep throat. A dose of antibiotics should deal with it, but keep baby away from others their age in the meantime.
It’s common that you and your baby will face diaper rash once or twice in the months and years coming up ahead.
It’s a common issue and one that’s normally not much of an issue, as long as you take it slow and pay close attention. But once you’ve worked out which one of the several types of diaper rash your baby has, treating it and getting rid of it fast is simple.
So keep this guide on hand, and if you need any more advice, or you’ve got info to share for all the other moms out there, make sure to drop a comment below.