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Diaper Rash
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Diaper rash

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CHILDREN'S HEALTH

Infants

Most infants develop a diaper rash at some time or another; some even arrive home from the hospital with a slight rash. Diaper rash may be more common after solid foods are added to your baby's diet or when your baby is taking antibiotics. Other factors that can lead to diaper rash include continuously wet or infrequently changed diapers, diarrhea and the use of plastic pants to cover a diaper. Diaper rashes can occur intermittently, anytime while your child is in diapers, but they're more common in babies during the first 12 months.

Diaper rash can alarm parents and annoy babies, but fortunately most cases disappear after a few days with simple home treatments.

Signs and symptoms

Diaper rash is characterized by reddish, puffy and perhaps slightly warmer skin in the diaper region — buttocks, thighs and genitals. You may notice your baby seems more uncomfortable than usual, especially during diaper changes. A baby with a diaper rash often fusses or cries when the diaper area is washed or touched.

A baby's soft skin is delightful to caress, but prone to rashes and spots. Here's a guide to some common infant skin conditions.

Causes

Diaper rash can be traced to a number of causes, including:

  • Irritation from stool and urine. Prolonged exposure to urine or feces can irritate a baby's sensitive skin. Your baby may be more prone to diaper rash if he or she is experiencing frequent bowel movements, because feces are more irritating than urine.

  • Introduction of new foods. As babies start to eat solid foods, generally when they're between 4 and 12 months old, the content of their stool changes, increasing the likelihood of diaper rash. Changes in your baby's diet can also increase the frequency of stools, which can lead to diaper rashes. If you're breast-feeding, your baby may develop diaper rash in response to something you've eaten, such as tomato-based foods.

  • Irritation from a new product. Disposable wipes, a new brand of disposable diaper, or a detergent, bleach or fabric softener used to launder cloth diapers can all irritate your baby's delicate bottom. Other substances that can add to the problem include ingredients found in some baby lotions, powders and oils.

  • Bacterial or yeast (fungi) infection. What begins as a simple skin infection may spread to the surrounding region. The area covered by a diaper — buttocks, thighs and genitals — is especially vulnerable to this tendency because it's warm and moist, making a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. These rashes generally start within the creases of the skin and there may be red dots scattered around the creases.

  • Sensitive skin. Babies with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or eczema may be more likely to develop diaper rashes. However, the irritated skin of atopic dermatitis and eczema commonly affects more than just the diaper area.

  • Chafing or rubbing. Tight fitting diapers or clothing that rubs against the skin can lead to a rash.

  • Use of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria — both bad and good. Without the right balance of good bacteria, however, yeast infections can occur. This can happen when babies take antibiotics or when mothers who are breast-feeding their infants are taking  antibiotics.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/15/08 12:16 AM