Diaper dermatitis or diaper rash is an irritation of the skin covering the groin, lower stomach, upper thighs and buttocks. The term diaper rash includes a variety of disorders of the skin that occur in infants, young children and incontinent or paralyzed individuals.

This condition is seen more commonly in infants and early childhood prior to 2 years of age. Diaper dermatitis usually occurs between one and two months of age and may continue until the child no longer wears diapers. The condition may become irritated or difficult to treat if the area becomes infected or the patient becomes allergic to one of the medications applied to the area.

What causes diaper rash exactly?

We all have a natural protective film of oil on our skin. If this oil is removed the skin becomes red, irritated, cracked and inflamed. When a person’s skin is exposed to urine or feces for prolonged periods, the natural skin oil is removed causing diaper dermatitis.

After the skin becomes red and inflamed, it becomes predisposed to infection. Both bacteria and yeast can infect the inflamed, cracked skin making the diaper rash even worse.

Antibiotic treatment for unrelated conditions can cause yeast overgrowth, which can also make the condition worse than it would be otherwise.

How do you prevent the problem?

The best treatment for diaper dermatitis is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. This is best accomplished by using absorbent disposable diapers. These do not allow urine to come into contact with the skin. Modern absorbent disposable diapers can hold large amounts of urine and keep it away from the skin.

If you plan to use reusable diapers, they must be changed each time after they become wet or every one to two hours.

When using disposable diapers, it is important to prevent tape from adhering to the infant’s skin. The adhesive can lead to skin breakdown. Contrary to popular belief, powder is not needed to keep the baby dry or to prevent diaper rash – in fact it may cause diaper rash to become inflamed particularly in the creases of the legs.

The best diaper rash treatment protocols

Keep the diaper area as dry as possible by using absorbent disposable diapers or by frequent changes of conventional diapers. Triple Paste is an ointment that can be applied to the diapered area with every diaper change.

Lotrimin cream can be used for diaper rash and can be purchased without a prescription. Do not use a medication named Lotrisone, even if given to you by your doctor. This medication can do irreversible harm if applied to the groin area of a child.

Often diaper rash is worsened by infection or an allergy to a medication. This is best sorted out by your doctor. If your doctor finds infection or an allergy, other medications will be prescribed.