Tips to Prevent and Treat Diaper Rash

| Posted On Dec 01, 2022 | By:

Diaper rash is something that all new parents want to avoid. The truth is, almost every baby, especially those between 9-12 months, will get diaper rash at least once during the first few years of their life.

Detecting Diaper Rash

Diaper dermatitis, another name for diaper rash, is a form of irritation that causes a baby’s skin to be sore, red, scaly, and tender. Other symptoms include inflamed skin in the diaper area (i.e., buttocks, thighs), itchiness, tender skin, and increased fussiness or crying, especially during diaper changes.

While diaper rash is typically easy to identify, you may want to speak with your child’s provider if there is any concern that the rash could be caused by something else, such as an infection or allergy.

Diaper rash can seem frightening, especially for new parents who are unsure of their baby’s cries or cues. No one wants to see a baby upset or in pain, mainly because diapers are necessary for everyday life. Luckily, there are ways to prevent and treat diaper rash to ensure that your baby stays calm and comfortable.


Diaper rash can have a variety of causes. Some of these include:

Leaving a wet or soiled diaper on too long – Because a baby’s skin is so tender, having soiled diapers on for too long can result in a rash. This is especially common if your baby experiences frequent bowel movements or diarrhea.

Friction – Many diaper rashes can be attributed to friction caused by the diaper rubbing against the baby’s sensitive skin. If friction occurs, you might want to see if another diaper brand is more comfortable or if your baby might need a different size diaper.

Allergies – Again, because of the sensitivity of a baby’s skin, a rash can develop if they are allergic to a component of the diaper, detergent, soaps, or baby wipes. For this reason, we recommend using unscented and dye-free products.

It is important to note that hospitalized babies, including preemies, are at an increased risk of experiencing diaper dermatitis because their skin is still developing, as well as other factors related to being in the hospital.

Treatment & Prevention

If you think your baby may have diaper rash, there are ways to help treat it. One of the best ways to prevent diaper rash is to change your baby’s diaper as soon as possible. By doing this, you reduce the amount of moisture on the skin that can cause inflammation.

If you choose to use cloth diapers, ensure that each new diaper is properly sanitized and completely dry before using it. Additionally, check your cloth diaper covers for leaks between changes to ensure no moisture is sitting on your baby’s skin.

If your child already has diaper rash, using wipes on raw skin could cause further irritation. Instead, to clean the skin, you can sit your baby in a basin of lukewarm water for several minutes with each diaper change to gently rinse the skin. Parents can also use a spray bottle of lukewarm water to gently rinse away debris on the skin. Then, gently pat the skin dry.

After a wash, allow your baby’s skin to air dry. When it’s time to put the diaper back on, you can apply a zinc oxide diaper cream and loosely fasten it. Diaper cream is especially helpful if the baby’s skin stays red between diaper changes, as it can shield your baby’s skin from irritation and moisture. You can reapply diaper cream with each diaper change and remove it at the end of the day rather than after every diaper change. It is generally recommended to avoid using baby powder and talcum powder during diaper changes. This is because if the powder is inhaled, it can cause lung problems.

Luckily, preventing diaper rash is easier once you know the causes and can spot the warning signs. However, babies have very delicate skin, and diaper rash can still occur despite a parent’s best efforts. If persistent diaper rash becomes an issue, your child’s provider can help.

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About Dr. Jennifer Liano

Dr. Jennifer Liano joined Atrius Health in 2021 and is a pediatrician at our Chelmsford location. She attended medical school at the State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY. She completed both her internship and residency at the University of Rochester. Dr. Liano’s clinical interests include advocacy and public health.