Did you know that diaper rash is an actual, recognized medical condition? Most people don’t. Severe diaper rash can be excruciating for infants and toddlers who do not know how to take care of the problem themselves. It is caused by a wet or soiled diaper rubbing against the skin for long periods of time, often while the child is sleeping. The skin reacts both to the moisture, which can chafe, as well as the chemicals found in urine and stool.
Severe diaper rash can also occur if a rash is treated with baby powder or cornstarch. These products are designed to absorb moisture, which is then caught in the creases of the skin and produces infection. In some instances, a particularly severe rash might indicate neglect, because the rash will grow worse when left untreated for several days.
Remove the Diaper
The first step to treat severe diaper rash is to remove the diaper. This takes away the offending material and allows the skin to breathe. If possible, it is a good idea to leave the diaper off for long periods of time to give the skin time to clear up.
If the baby or child has to wear something when suffering from severe diaper rash, he or she might be better off with a different brand or a cloth diaper that won’t rub the skin. Choose diapers that are labeled as “super absorbent” and which use absorbent gelling material (AGM) to keep the skin away from harmful chemicals and fluids.
Change the Diet
Often, a severe diaper rash can occur in babies and toddlers because their diets do not contain sufficient liquids. Giving the child juice or water in greater quantities will lower the concentration of the urine, reducing the possibility for diaper rash. Cranberry juice, in particular, is beneficial for children more than one year old.
Apply a Barrier Ointment
According to BabyCenter.com, it is a good idea to treat severe diaper rash with a barrier ointment that will form a protective layer between the offending diaper and the baby’s skin. White zinc oxide, for example, is thick enough to protect the skin without allowing infections to develop.
Prepare a Bath
A warm bath is often very soothing for babies and children with severe diaper rash. Adding two tablespoons of baking soda can help the healing process, and older children might benefit from a sitz bath instead. If possible, give the baby or child time in the bath for at least ten minutes, three or four times per day.
Use Appropriate Detergent
Severe diaper rash can be caused by an abrasive detergent when parents use cloth diapers on their babies. To avoid this, use a detergent that is specifically formulated for babies and small children, such as Dreft. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to switch to disposable diapers.
Severe diaper rash can also occur in adults who use incontinence briefs. This can be an embarrassing experience, and is often more severe in adults than in children. If this occurs, you can use the same tips for adults as for babies, though bathing for longer periods of time is acceptable.
For adults, it is also helpful to gently blow-dry skin on a low setting before getting dressed. This removes most of the moisture from the skin and helps prevent recurrences of severe diaper rash.
BabyCenter.com, Diaper rash