You opened a diaper to a full blow out, removed the soiled clothing, and used a ton of wipes to clean up. Now that the baby is clean and you’re ready for a new outfit, it’s done, right? Maybe not. Big blowouts and moisture on the skin from urinating can lead to diaper rash.

Diaper rash is red, inflamed skin in the genital and rectal areas, and the irritated skin may have pustules or small blisters. Diaper rashes are common and can be caused by skin irritants or contact (dermatitis) with body fluids. Other causes of diaper rash include changes in the child’s diet (breast milk or formula) or allergies. These rashes may become infected by bacteria or yeast normally present on the skin. Diaper rashes are often uncomfortable for infants and toddlers, and the best treatment is prevention – so avoid irritants on the skin with frequent diaper changes.

Ways to prevent diaper rash

  • Be sure to check diapers at least every 2 hours as children may not be able to communicate they soiled the diaper.
  • Wipe the skin to clean the diaper area every time the diaper is soiled. Moisture from urine is on the baby’s skin even if the diaper absorbed most of the fluid.
  • Clean bowel moments front to back. Start with the front genitals and clean to the rectum. This is especially important to keep bacterial out of female genitals.
  • Allow air time. Allowing the skin to be bare with open exposure to air will help the skin heal. Be sure to have a protective absorbing pad on the floor or beneath the child to prevent the child from soiling the area.

Frequent diaper changes will help prevent diaper rash but what should you do once a diaper rash occurs?

How to care for diaper rash

  • Clean the area with water and soft cloths as they are less irritating then disposable wipes
  • Apply a cream. Zinc oxide aids in soothing, adds a protective barrier and helps heal the skin. Another effective barrier is petroleum jelly. To apply, place a little dab of cream on your finger and apply it to the front genitals, then back to the rectum. Be sure to apply cream inside the labia as well as inside the butt cheeks.
  • If the cream does not improve the rash within 2 to 3 days, take the child to his or her pediatrician as a prescription may be needed if the child is diagnosed with a secondary bacterial or yeast infection.

Diaper rashes are often uncomfortable for the baby or toddler. Warm baths may help soothe the skin. Some cream and time should help with healing.

For more information about caring for children with diaper rashes and other common ailments, a Health Basics course for nannies is available within the Intermediate Childcare Certification Program from the Nanny Institute.

About the Author. Dr. Alexandrea Murr earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of Toledo, Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Phoenix, and Bachelor of Art in Art from Buffalo State College. Dr. Murr is a Board Certified Nurse Executive and works in private practice in New York. Dr. Murr is also an adjunct faculty member of the US Nanny Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.