What Is Diaper Rash?
A diaper rash is the skin’s way of saying that the area in and around a diaper is not happy. Such rashes can occur at any age when a diaper is in use, starting as early as one week, but are most common among babies ages 9-12 months old. And they really are common: 50-60% of all babies will experience at least one diaper rash.
What Causes Diaper Rash?
You’ve likely heard before that diaper rash is a result of extended exposure to a dirty diaper, particularly if your baby is experiencing watery stools. Sitting in a urine-soaked or poop-soiled diaper for any extended period of time is almost certain to cause the skin to react adversely because those substances are literally the body’s way of getting rid of waste. However, diaper rashes are also a common effect of prolonged excrement exposure because that warm, moist environment within the diaper is the ideal space for a fungal infection, particularly yeast, to thrive. Yet while such overproduction of the naturally present yeast known as candida albicans is one other possible source, there are still other possible diaper rash causes that are important to be aware of.
Tight-fitting diapers, for instance, can also cause rubbing and chafing which will irritate and dry out baby’s skin to cause flaking. New hygiene products, such as baby wipes, diapers, soaps, or detergents, may also be causing irritation to baby’s delicate skin. Chemicals that pose no trouble to your own skin may be too harsh for baby’s, which is up to 30% thinner than that of an adult.
Finally, the introduction of new foods, particularly those that are acidic such as citrus fruits, pineapple, and tomato-based goods, may also contribute to a baby diaper rash. Even a breastfed baby may experience diaper rash symptoms if mom has consumed a high concentration of these foods.
What Does Diaper Rash Look Like?
Just as there are a variety of diaper rash causes, not all diaper rashes look the same. General diaper rash symptoms include vibrant red patches - think “a bad sun burn” - on the buttocks, genitals, or thighs and cause distress for baby, especially when being changed or washed in that area. It’s not unusual for a baby with a diaper rash, especially a severe diaper rash, to be consistently fussier than usual or to pull or tug at their diaper area.
Other indicators to look for include red dots scattered around the creases of baby’s skin, which can indicate a yeast infection as the diaper rash culprit.
Visible signs that your baby may be experiencing something other than diaper rash include itchiness, sores that bleed or ooze, and resistance to or worsening of the rash in light of home remedies. Similarly, if the rash extends beyond the diapered area or is accompanied by fever, a diaper rash is not the primary issue. In such instances, consult with your pediatrician.