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Preventing diaper rash: What moms need to know

Any way you look at it, diaper rash is a pain in the butt — pun intended. It’s no fun for moms who have to treat it and try to soothe their little ones who have a sore, red bottom. It’s certainly no fun for a baby.

Diaper rash comes from wearing diapers. Yes, that sounds ridiculously simple, doesn’t it? Most diaper rashes will fall into one of two varieties: ordinary contact diaper rash that comes from sitting in a wet diaper for too long or a yeast rash.

Moisture trapped inside the diaper coupled with the baby’s movement break down the surface of the skin and the body’s response is a rash. Moisture + movement = rash; there’s your science lesson for the day.

So, how do you prevent diaper rash? Dr. Charles Shubin, attending pediatrician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore has these tips: 

1. Don’t put a diaper on your kid

If your baby is prone to diaper rash, the best way to prevent it is to keep her (or him) out of the diaper as much as possible. This is pretty easy when they’re very little, less easy when they start rolling around. Laying an infant on top of the diaper while they nap or play will allow the skin in the diaper area to breathe a little more and potentially minimize diaper rash… although this can be dangerous, as any boy’s mom will tell you.

Let your baby play in a tub of water. This will entertain your child and keep them out of the diaper, and if they pee in the water? Oh well.

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2. Change diapers often

Change diapers often — more often than you want to or can afford to. The less time your baby’s bottom spends trapped in a wet diaper, the less likely he’ll be to get diaper rash. According to Dr. Shubin, some parents are tuned in enough to their babies to be able to tell when they’re about to urinate and can get the diaper off of them and hold their baby over a toilet. If you don’t have this level of intuition, don’t feel bad. Even if you don’t know when your kid is going to pee, it’s not too hard to tell when they did pee. Do you need to get a fresh diaper every time your child goes number one? Maybe. Every child is different and you’ll have to learn the balance between using a ton of diapers and keeping that bum rash-free. Hint: The rash-free bum is probably going to win.

3. Create a barrier

Assuming your kid does have to wear a diaper (and our society expects it), keep the skin as protected as you can. The main ingredient of most diaper creams is zinc oxide. Dr. Shubin suggests buying pure zinc oxide cream in bulk. It’s just as good as name-brand cream and since there’s no scent or other additives, it might actually be better for a baby with sensitive skin. Bonus: pure zinc oxide is usually cheaper. Win!

Yes, diaper creams can treat rashes, but a layer applied to your baby’s skin can act as a moisture barrier and prevent rashes, too.

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4. Avoid hydrocortisone

For persistent or yeast rashes, a pediatrician will usually prescribe Mycostatin or Lotrimin, but if you’re tempted to grab the hydrocortisone cream in your medicine chest that worked great on your poison ivy, don’t. This can break down the skin. If you’re dealing with raw, broken-down skin, boils or pus, contact your doctor. Something stronger than over-the-counter diaper cream might be in order.

Bottom line, the best ways to prevent diaper rash are to keep the skin protected and minimize the time spent in a diaper. If your baby is prone to rashes, you can follow these simple tips to get some relief, but the ultimate cure is getting out of diapers.

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diaper rash tips for moms
Image: Becci Burkhart/SheKnows

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