How to Prevent Diaper Rash

How to Prevent Diaper Rash
A diaper rash is very common. It can be just a few red spots (a mild case). Or it can be blisters and sores (a severe case). Diaper rash is caused by many things: • Urine and bowel movements in diapers • Rubbing against a wet diaper • Allergic reaction to laundry soap, foods, disposable diapers, or diaper wipes • A skin infection, but this is less common. 

Keeping your baby’s bottom healthy

You may not always be able to protect your baby from diaper rash, but there are steps you can take to significantly reduce its occurrence. A few simple strategies can help decrease the likelihood of diaper rash developing on your baby's skin.

The best way to prevent diaper rash is to keep the diaper area clean and dry. Once you have finished cleaning your baby’s bottom, pat it dry (no rubbing!) before applying a thick barrier of protection. Better yet, allow your baby to go without a diaper for a little while to let her bottom air-dry and then apply a thick barrier of protection when you do re-diaper.

To avoid diaper rash: • Change diapers often. Use a clean cloth to wash and dry the baby’s bottom each time. • If you use cloth diapers, wash them well. Rinse the diapers twice and put 1/2 cup (125 mL) of vinegar in the rinse. Do not use bleach, i.e. Javex™ or fabric softeners like Downey™. • If you use cloth diapers, use “breathable” diaper covers.

If your baby gets diaper rash: • Leave the baby’s diapers off as much as you can. Lay him on his tummy on top of a few diapers or a soaker pad. Dress the baby in a shirt and cover him with a sheet to keep him warm. • Change diapers often. Be careful to use clean clothes to wash and dry the baby’s bottom each time. • Use rubber pants as little as possible. • If you use disposable diapers, change to another brand, or try cloth diapers. • Rub a zinc-based ointment on the diaper rash. Ask your doctor, public health nurse, or pharmacist to suggest a good brand.

Cloth or disposable diapers?

Cloth or disposable diapers

Many parents wonder about what kind of diapers to use. When it comes to preventing diaper rash, there's no compelling evidence that cloth diapers are better than disposable diapers or vice versa.

Because there's no one best diaper, use whatever works for you and your baby. If one brand of disposable diaper irritates your baby's skin, try another. If the laundry soap you use on cloth diapers seems to cause a diaper rash, switch products.

Whether you use cloth diapers, disposables, or both kinds, always change your baby as soon as possible after he or she wets or soils the diaper to keep the bottom as clean and dry as possible.

Washing cloth diapers

If you use cloth diapers, careful washing can help prevent diaper rash. Washing methods vary and many routines work well. The key is to clean, disinfect, and remove soap residue. Here's one effective method:
  • Pre-soak heavily soiled cloth diapers in cold water.
  • Wash diapers in hot water with a mild detergent and bleach. Bleach kills germs. You could also add vinegar to the wash cycle to eliminate odors and rinse out soap residue.
  • Double rinse the diapers in cold water to remove traces of chemicals and soap.
  • Skip fabric softener and dryer sheets because they can contain fragrances that may irritate your baby's skin.
Call the doctor if: • The diaper area smells like yeast • Diaper rash still won’t go away after you have tried all these tips.

How Many Wet Diapers Can I Expect?

Babies use between 6 and 10 diapers each day. If you change the wet diaper right away, you can prevent diaper rash. If your baby has less than 6 wet diapers a day, or if the pee (urine) is dark yellow and has a strong smell, it likely means that your baby needs more fluids.
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