What is diaper rash and how is it treated?

If you're a new parent, you know that every day is a learning experience with your bundle of joy. But, in the event that your little one is sick or is uncomfortable from an ailment, you'll do anything possible to fix the problem.

Diaper rash is common among newborns, but it might seem an alarming development for new parents who may begin to second guess their care regimens. This simple form of skin irritation (dermatitis) will happen at some point during infancy, but there are ways that you can provide relief and prevent diaper rash flare-ups in the future.

Let's explore how you can do just that:

Understanding diaper rash

Diaper rash appears on the skin in the diaper area, and while it can affect infants and children up to 2 years of age, it typically occurs between the periods of 9-12 months when babies are sitting often and just beginning to eat solid foods. The underlying skin irritation of diaper rash has numerous potential causes, such as friction between the skin and the diaper, as well as irritation caused by moisture and buildup of acid from urine and bowel movements.

In some cases, diaper rash can be a result of a fungal or yeast infection, which can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) prescription medicines (in order to buy these with your FSA, you'll need to submit a prescription for reimbursement).

Last but not least, diaper rash can also be a result of an allergic reaction to cleaning agents, diaper wipes/materials, laundry detergents, soaps or lotion that are applied to the diaper areas.

How is diaper rash treated?

Ideally, the best way to reduce the chances of diaper rash is to keep your baby's diaper areas as dry as possible with frequent diaper changes and close monitoring of the products used to clean these areas to ensure they are not adversely affecting them. In most cases, diaper rash will clear up with the use of mild hydrocortisone cream and a more frequent diaper change regimen.

However, some diaper rashes are caused by outside sources, such as a bacterial or fungal infections, which typically last longer than 4-7 days and are not responsive to treatment. In these cases, it's best to consult with a pediatrician to diagnose the source of the issue, and if advanced treatment methods are needed, the physician will most likely prescribe an antifungal or antibiotic treatment to eliminate the underlying cause of the problem.

While diaper rash may re-emerge in the future, generally these conditions can be treated successfully at home and are simply another milestone of infancy for parents to overcome.

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