Wondering how to prevent diaper rash? Diaper rash is a common problem that occurs in many infants. It’s defined as a rash in the diaper-area and usually presents as a red, slightly inflamed, potentially itchy area. The rash can grow quite rapidly and can be present on the penis, scrotum, or labia. Most diaper rashes are not too serious and should respond rapidly to treatment. Diaper rash prevention avoids the need for treatment and also keeps your infant comfortable.
Diaper rash can present soon after birth, but it tends to be most common after a baby begins eating solid foods. Some diaper rashes are caused by simple skin irritation, whereas many others are caused by an overgrowth of a fungus/yeast called Candida. Candida loves to grow in moist, warm areas…just like the diaper area!
8 Ways To Prevent Diaper Rash
Some babies are more prone to diaper rash than others, however, there are some things that you can do to try to prevent diaper rash from developing in your baby in the first place.
- Regularly using a zinc oxide-based diaper cream is often a great way to stave off diaper rash. Zinc oxide is a compound that creates a impermeable moisture barrier. Simply apply the cream after each diaper change, regardless if there’s a rash present or not. My personal favorite is Desitin because it simply just works REALLY well. This being said, it does contain petroleum, which is a turn-off for some parents, especially those using cloth diapers. Although, interestingly enough, Desitin does contain both lanolin and cod liver oil, both natural products that help immensely with skin care! Bourdreauxs Butt Paste is another fairly effective diaper cream. And for those of you who want a 100% plant-based, natural product, Seventh Generation Diaper Cream is a great choice.
- Try to keep the area under the diaper as dry as possible. Make sure that the method you’re using to clean your baby’s bottom isn’t too moist. (I.e. Don’t use overly saturated towels or wipes.) I like to use slightly moistened Imse Vimse cloth wipes. It’s helpful to keep a spray bottle full of water handy on your changing table to moisten wipes like these ones. For prepared wipes that are easily portable, my favorites are the Seventh Generation baby wipes. They’re great because they are plant-based, and don’t have extra additives, fragrance, etc. Plus, they’re not too moist, a definite plus!
- If diaper rash has been a problem, use a petroleum-based or petroleum-free natural water-barrier cream after a diaper cream to prevent wetness from reaching the skin. Petroleum-based products tend to offer slightly better water-barrier protection, but can be difficult to wash out of cloth diapers, and are usually avoided with cloth diaper use. My favorite petroleum-based product is Aquaphor. It’s great at preventing diaper rash, but also wonderful for dry skin, treating eczema, and covering up a small “boo-boo”. Avalon Organics makes another great petroleum-based protective ointment. Finally, for those of you who want to avoid using a petroleum-based product, here’s a great “un-petroleum” one.
- Make sure that diapers/wipes/soaps and laundry detergent are fragrance-free. Fragrance additives are often irritating, and can create or worsen a rash. Babies have such soft and delicate skin, so minimize their exposure to unnecessary things, like fragrances! Often simply water, and not soap, is best for gently cleaning the diaper area, especially when it’s “rashy”.
- Try to use highly absorbent diapers and change them frequently to prevent your baby from sitting in wetness. If your baby is sick and is having frequent, loose stools, be even more vigilant about changing. Seventh Generation makes a wonderfully absorbent disposable diaper, as does Earth’s Best. If you’re using cloth diapers, try and use a fleece liner, as these tend to absorb more liquid.
- Diapers that are too snug, or the consistence use of “rubber-pants” over cloth diapers can also lead to diaper rash. Look for a cloth diaper cover that offers a few adjustable options, such as snaps or Velcro, to allow for a snug, but not too-tight fit.
- If your baby has recently started eating solid foods, often times more acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus, etc) can exacerbate diaper rash. Avoid these. This also goes for breastfeeding moms. If your baby is getting rashy, try limiting your acidic-food intake.
- If your baby is on antibiotics, ask your medical care provider about giving your child a probiotic supplement. Since antibiotics often result in a diaper rash, probiotics for kids can help to restore the natural bacterial flora in the gut.
You may try all of these methods to prevent diaper rash and your baby develops a diaper rash anyway. Don’t get too frustrated, it can happen! Read our diaper rash treatment article for treatment suggestions.