Diaper rashes grow in warm, moist places. They are particularly at home in your baby’s diaper. These rashes can look like red splotches on your baby’s bottom, or red scales in the genital area.

Diaper rash can result from:

  • irritation by stool and urine
  • new foods or products
  • sensitive skin
  • a too-tight diaper
  • antibiotics taken by the baby or their nursing mother

Keep reading for easily accessible remedies that can help.

Keep it clean and dry

The most important way to prevent and treat a rash is to keep your baby’s diaper dry and clean. Lay your baby down on a towel whenever they aren’t wearing a diaper. Giving them some time without a diaper during the day may help them to keep the area dry. Make sure the diaper isn’t wrapped too tightly.

When you change your baby’s diaper, clean the diaper area gently with a soft cloth or a squirt of water from a bottle. Wipes are okay, just be gentle. Don’t rub the skin too hard, and avoid wipes with alcohol.

Use mild soap when you give your baby a bath. Be sure to pat — don’t scrub — the area dry.

Diaper-changing tips

When your baby has a diaper rash, you must be vigilant about diaper changing. It’s best to change your baby’s diapers often, ideally as soon as it’s soiled.

Rinse cloth diapers two to three times to remove all soap after you’ve cleaned them. Superabsorbent disposable diapers can help keep your baby’s skin dry.

Creams and jellies

You can use pastes or barrier creams that contain zinc to soothe the skin and prevent contact with feces and other irritants. Examples of these products include:

  • Triple Paste
  • A+D
  • Balmex
  • Desitin

Apply generously and cover with petroleum jelly so the product doesn’t stick to the diaper.

Jellies like Vaseline may be ideal, as they’re inexpensive and normally contain fewer dyes or perfumes. However, jellies may stick to cloth diapers and can be hard to wash off. They also don’t offer as strong of a barrier as other creams.

Treatments to avoid

When it comes to preventing and treating diaper rash, less is more. Avoid using highly fragranced products, including fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free are much less irritating for your little one.

Also, put your baby in clothes that are breathable. Rubber pants or tight plastic covers over a diaper can promote a moist, hot environment.

You should also refrain from using baby powder on your baby. The product’s name is a misnomer — it’s a no-no for babies because they can inhale it, which can harm their lungs.

Cornstarch is another remedy that isn’t safe to use on little ones because they can also inhale the powder and irritate their lungs. Corn starch can also worsen diaper rashes that are caused by the fungus Candida.

When to see your child’s pediatrician

Although diaper rashes can look painful and irritated, they don’t often bother your baby. The exception is when the rash becomes infected. Signs that the rash is infected and you should call your child’s pediatrician include:

  • blisters on the diaper area
  • fever
  • redness
  • swelling of the area
  • pus or discharge that drains from the diaper area
  • rash will not go away after treatment or starts to worsen

Your baby’s rash can also develop into a secondary fungal or yeast infection called candida. It appears bright red and raw. It can sometimes be found in the creases of the skin with spots of the red rash outside of the diaper area on the abdomen or thighs. These are known as “satellite lesions.” Check with your doctor or nurse for a diagnosis if you notice these symptoms.

Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream if they think your baby has a fungal diaper rash.

If your child becomes difficult to console or seems to be in pain related to their diaper rash, these are also signs to call the pediatrician.