How To Prevent Diaper Rash. Causes, Treatment and How Long Does it Last

Diaper rash is a common condition in infants and toddlers, particularly when they are 9-12 months old. The condition is not considered dangerous but can be a great source of discomfort and pain. This is not even to mention the possibility of the condition resulting in a bacterial infection.

Although symptoms may vary, diaper rash is usually characterized by redness and irritation on areas such as the thighs, buttocks and tummy. The rash mostly appears on areas which come into contact with diapers but may extend elsewhere in some cases. See baby diaper rash pictures. When symptoms like fever, bleeding and pus formation are involved, it is high time that you checked with your doctor.

Most mothers are able to treat their kids at home. Medical attention is, however, necessary when home treatments prove ineffective or when dealing with severe rash. In this article, we look at how to prevent diaper rash, including its causes and treatment.

How to prevent diaper rash

Almost every mom will have to deal with diaper rash. While you may not succeed in preventing the condition entirely, several things can be done to reduce its severity.

Keep baby’s skin clean:

Even when a baby is not recovering from diaper rash, daily baths are very important. They help get rid of dirt that may encourage bacterial growth. Use warm water to rinse your baby’s bottom after a bath. Remember to change your baby’s diaper once it is soiled, about 8-10 times a day. If left in its place, a wet diaper will weaken the baby’s skin, making it more prone to diaper rash. Frequent diaper changes may require that you adjust your schedule especially at night. When the baby is having diarrhea, diaper changes need to be done even more frequently.

Keep the affected area dry:

Dry skin recovers faster from diaper rash. After cleaning your baby, pat dry before applying a barrier cream. If you have the time, allow the baby to spend about 15 minutes without a diaper. This allows any moisture that may be present on skin to dry out. Never rub or scrub affected skin even when in a hurry.

Use a protection barrier:

A cream, ointment, paste or jelly prevents further damage to affected skin due to reduced friction. It also creates the right conditions necessary for recovery as contact with feces and urine is minimized. When choosing the best cream to use, check their list of ingredients. Zinc oxide is a main active ingredient in such creams. It works by soothing irritated skin. A cream may contain petroleum jelly also. It is a more protective ingredient but also one you can cheaply buy separately. If not certain, talk with your pharmacist or rely on a trial and error method.

Consider powders:

Powders are not always necessary but help to attain optimum dryness and also reduce friction. When purchasing powders, avoid ones that contain talc. Talc can be accidentally breathed in and thus result in lung damage. Look for cornstarch powders instead.

Allow aeration:

When your baby is recovering from diaper rash, use larger diapers than you normally would otherwise. Also, avoid fastening the diaper too tightly. Aeration encourages dryness and reduces irritation. Candidal infections have been shown to be reduced significantly with use of breathable, disposable diapers.

Other ways to prevent diaper rash

So far, we have focused on what to do when changing your baby. Let’s look at other approaches that may help prevent the rash.

Avoid scented wipes:

Anyone would be drawn to scented wipes to use when changing baby’s diaper. The problem is that such wipes contain fragrances which can highly irritate sensitive skin. In fact, using scented wipes is almost as disastrous as using ones with allergens or alcohol. Always go for wipes recommended for sensitive skin or check with a professional.

Consider cloth diapers:

If your baby is prone to diaper rash, cloth diapers may prove a good option. The problem with absorbent diapers is that they store a lot of moisture. Moisture provides a perfect breeding ground for diaper rash causes. When using cloth diapers, always remember to wash them with mild detergent. Another option is to use disposable diapers that are less absorbent.

Replace diapers that have plastic covers:

Plastic covers don’t allow moisture to escape. They also produce effects of a tiny microwave where heat is trapped inside the diaper. Moist and warm areas are very friendly to bacterial growth.

Understand food’s role:

Certain foods are known to worsen diaper rash bouts while others may help. Fruits such as lemon, oranges, strawberries and pineapple result in acidic poop.  Acidic poop is a more powerful irritant than urine. Apple juice and other juices cause loose stool which also encourages diaper rash.

When introducing new foods, especially solids into your baby’s diets, make sure to allow a waiting period of 4 days before introduction of another solid. You can also consider keeping a diary to compare before and after results.

The BRAT diet may help with toddler diarrhea diaper rash. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. If there are signs of allergic reaction, skip foods like wheat, dairy products and beans. A better source of proteins is probiotics. Avoid cereals made from wheat and dairy products for they worsen diarrhea, with the exception of yogurt.

Another crucial source of healthy food when dealing with diaper rash is breast milk. In fact, breast milk can be applied directly to affected areas to reduce irritation. When treating diaper rash with breast milk direct application should be avoided if a yeast infection is involved.

Diaper rash causes

While many things can be responsible, below are the common diaper rash causes.


Prolonged exposure to moisture makes your baby’s skin fragile. Since baby skin is usually sensitive, irritation and diaper rash may occur. Wetness also encourages the growth of bacteria.

New foods:

It is not without a reason that diaper rash is less common in newborns when compared to toddlers. Near the end of the first year of life, teething will have started in most babies and so will the urge to ingest foods with more solids. These factors result in introduction of products that may introduce acidity or germs to baby food. Both acidic food and diarrhea that may be the end result are potential causes of diaper rash.

Introduction of new substances:

A change in the brand of diapers you have been using may be the cause of a diaper rash that seemed to have come from nowhere. It can also be from a new brand of washing detergent and so on.

Rubbing or chafing:

When the skin is constantly rubbed such as by clothes or, in this case, diapers, it can develop a rash. You can try using larger diapers or applying powder.


If your baby has been put on antibiotics in the recent past, they may develop a more persistent form of diaper rash. Antibiotics also kill beneficial bacteria that keep yeast growth in control. In the absence of these bacteria, a diaper rash due to a yeast infection can occur. This imbalance is a common cause of diaper rash on vagina.

Diaper rash treatment

Creams and ointments are mostly used for diaper rash treatment. For mild cases, a cream containing zinc oxide will get the job done.  Ointments are thicker than creams and therefore more appropriate when a severe rash is involved. When ointments are not effective, pastes can be used. Petroleum jelly applied afterwards will keep the paste from sticking to the diaper.

If the condition is not improving, check with your doctor. They may prescribe a hydrocortisone cream or ointment. Bacterial or fungal infections require different types of medications which will be prescribed by your doctor. Bacitracin and neomycin may be used for bacterial infections while clotrimazole for diaper rash is a good option for yeast infections.

Treatment at home:

A number of home remedies for diaper rash treatment have been proposed. Petroleum jelly is a good example. It in fact is one of the best teething diaper rash remedies.  Others include:

  • Cornstarch – cornstarch is said to encourage dryness by absorbing the moisture on the baby’s buttocks. If you are to use cornstarch, go for organic brands.
  • Vinegar – a mixture of urine and feces contains ammonia, the substance that causes irritation. Vinegar can help restore normal pH.
  • Coconut oil – this is one of the essential oils for diaper rash that may help. It is a skin soother and also has antimicrobial properties.
  • Baking soda –baking soda is popularly used for treatment of many skin conditions. For diaper rash, add 2 tablespoons of the powder to bath water you are to use when changing the baby’s diaper.

Since home remedies are not always effective and sometimes not recommended, don’t rely overly on them for severe rash or newborn diaper rash treatment. Your doctor or pharmacist will be of more help in such a case.

How long does diaper rash last?

As mentioned earlier, reasons to worry when your baby has diaper rash are few. The problem is that the condition can be causing pain to your baby especially when affected areas are touched. So how long does diaper rash last?

With proper home care, such as discussed above, the rash lasts for about 2-3 days. Delays in recovery may be caused by continued presence of the primary cause. It can also be a sign of a bacterial or yeast infection.

See your doctor if the rash doesn’t improve with home care or is accompanied by signs of infection such as fever. Other scenarios that require medical attention are diaper rash bleeding treatment, when sores have formed or when pus is oozing. Diaper rash due to infection is more likely to occur along with other symptoms despite the common redness, irritation and swelling caused by normal diaper rash.