How to Prevent Diaper Rash: Essential Tips for Parents

How to Prevent Diaper Rash: Essential Tips for Parents

As parents, we’re constantly striving to keep our children healthy, comfortable, and content. For the first several years of their lives, keeping them clean and dry is an important part of your role as a parent. 

In the early days of parenthood, knowing when to change your baby’s diaper can be a challenge. There are often signs (and smells!), and you’ll inevitably adopt a pattern for changing your baby. However, despite your best efforts, diaper rash is likely to strike at least once as it’s a common condition with many causes.

In this article, we’ll explore the triggers and symptoms of diaper rash and discuss the most effective ways to prevent it. We’ll also cover the rare instances when you should seek medical advice for your little one. After reading, we hope you’ll feel prepared to handle whatever surprises you may encounter on the changing table!

Understanding Diaper Rash

Diaper rash is a form of skin irritation, also known as dermatitis. In many cases, it’s caused by wet or soiled diapers irritating the skin, which is why it’s essential to change your baby frequently and use a high-quality diaper that keeps moisture away from the skin. However, keep in mind that there are many factors that can affect diaper rash.  

Typical Symptoms of Diaper Rash

Mild diaper rash is fairly easy to identify. Most commonly, you’ll see pink or reddish patches in the diaper area. You’re most likely to see it on your baby’s bottom, but it could also appear on their inner thighs or around the genital region. 

Your baby is likely to let you know if the rash is making them uncomfortable, especially during diaper changes, when they are more likely to fuss and cry. 

The good news about diaper rash is that with prompt at-home treatment, it’s likely to disappear after a few days. However, if the rash seems particularly severe, doesn’t clear up, or becomes worse (such as bleeding or oozing sores), you should contact your pediatrician. A rash accompanied by a fever is also an indication to seek medical advice immediately. 

How to Prevent Diaper Rash

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While diaper rash may seem like an inevitable part of infancy, there are straightforward strategies and a wide range of affordable products that can help keep it at bay. 

Change Diapers Regularly

This is the most important thing you can do to help prevent your little one from developing a diaper rash. Keeping them clean and dry is the best way to protect their delicate skin. It’s especially important to change them immediately after a poopy diaper, as stool will quickly irritate the skin. Contact with urine is less likely to cause a rash, but a wet diaper is still uncomfortable for your little one and may cause chafing. 

The number of times you change your little one’s diaper will depend on several factors, especially their age. Newborns often go through 10 to 12 disposable diapers daily. This drops to six to eight diapers for older babies. A good rule of thumb is to change your baby every two or three hours, except when the diaper seems wet or if they’ve had a bowel movement and should be changed as soon as possible. 

For newborns, you’ll also be doing several overnight changes, but many parents prefer not to wake older babies and toddlers for a diaper change unless they are particularly wet or have had a bowel movement. The best diapers are able to absorb liquid effectively to keep your baby comfortable overnight. 

Clean and Dry Your Baby’s Skin

During diaper changes, it’s essential to gently yet thoroughly clean your baby’s skin (including those skin folds!), especially following a bowel movement.

Using cotton wool or a soft washcloth and warm water is often recommended for newborns. Alternatively, you can use mild, hypoallergenic diaper wipes, which are more convenient when you’re on the go. Just make sure to choose a gentle, fragrance-free, water-based wipe. 

Drying your baby’s skin is just as important as cleaning it. If you’re pressed for time, gently pat the skin dry with a clean cloth or towel before putting on the new diaper. Whenever possible, allow your baby to have some diaper-free time. Air drying is gentler than drying with a cloth and is an excellent way to ensure that you won’t be putting a diaper on damp skin. 

Use Diaper Cream or Ointment

When used correctly, diaper rash creams and ointments can be very effective at helping to prevent diaper rash. First and foremost, don’t neglect to thoroughly clean and dry the skin before applying cream or ointment. 

Using a petrolatum-based barrier cream or ointment like Aquaphor is a good preventive measure. Ointments create a barrier against moisture and are safe to use after every diaper change. Simply use your finger to apply a thin layer over your baby’s bottom and any other areas that may experience irritation or chafing, like the scrotum or inner thighs. Plant-based balms are another option for those who want to avoid petroleum jelly—just stick to ingredients such as shea butter, beeswax, and natural oils.

For treating mild, moderate, and even irritated diaper rash, you’ll want to choose a cream or paste containing the active ingredient zinc oxide. Desitin is the best-known brand, though there are many others. Besides helping to quickly heal the skin, zinc oxide has anti-inflammatory properties

Creams that treat inflamed skin often contain 40% zinc oxide, while those that treat mild cases or serve as a skin protectant have much less. Many families choose to have a Desitin-like cream on hand in case of a rash but otherwise use an ointment or balm with little to no zinc oxide on a daily basis.

You may want to experiment with several products to find one with a consistency that you like. Some diaper creams contain fragrances and potential allergens such as lanolin, so always read the ingredients list carefully, especially if your baby has sensitive skin. 

Choose the Right Diaper

Alongside frequent changes, the choice of diaper brand can play a significant role in diaper rash prevention. Softness, absorbency, and breathability are crucial components of a good-quality diaper that will keep your little one comfortable, especially overnight. You’ll want to choose a diaper that utilizes hypoallergenic materials and leaves out unnecessary lotions, dyes, or fragrances.

When putting on a new diaper—whether disposable or cloth diapers—make sure that it fits snugly and securely. It should hug your child’s body but shouldn’t be so tight that it causes chafing. Each company has its own size range, so check that you have selected the right one for your baby’s weight.

Causes of Diaper Rash 

While prolonged exposure to wet or soiled diapers is the primary cause of diaper rash, there are many other factors that can cause irritation. Dietary changes, illness, teething, perspiration, lack of air circulation, friction from crawling or cruising, and ill-fitting diapers can all contribute to diaper rash. 

For example, you’re more likely to notice diaper rash during hot weather when it’s almost impossible to eliminate the presence of moisture between your baby’s skin and the diaper. Introducing solid foods is another time when you’re likely to see more rashes. 

If you know that your baby has eczema or easily irritated skin, there’s a good chance that they will be prone to developing diaper rash, especially in combination with certain baby wipes, laundry detergents, soaps, and shampoos. 

When to Seek Medical Advice

While mild, moderate, and even some severe diaper rashes can be treated at home with creams and air exposure, there are some instances when you should seek medical advice. 

If the rash persists for more than three days or appears to worsen, it’s a good idea to call your pediatrician. You should also call if the rash looks unusual, bleeds, or is accompanied by a fever. If you notice bumps, pimples, or cracked, shiny skin, your baby could have a yeast diaper rash that requires treatment with an antifungal cream. 

Why Choose VeryVery Baby Diapers

While there are many factors that contribute to diaper rash prevention, selecting a diaper brand that prioritizes dryness and comfort is a fundamental part of protecting your baby’s delicate skin.

VeryVery premium diapers offer a snug, comfortable fit in five sizes ranging from newborn to toddler. Made with hypoallergenic materials chosen for their softness and breathability, our diapers have a highly absorbent core that provides maximum leak protection. VeryVery diapers can easily keep your little one comfortable for 12 hours (or more) and are ideal for overnight use.

We’re confident in saying that VeryVery diapers are among the softest you can find, so they’re gentle enough for newborns and babies with particularly sensitive skin. They’re also entirely free of potential irritants such as latex, chlorine, dyes, lotion, and perfumes. 

In addition to our focus on comfort, fit, and absorbency, VeryVery is an eco-friendly diapering option, thanks to being made with sustainable materials like FSC-certified pulp and recycled plastic bags. 

Final Thoughts

Although you’re unlikely to avoid diaper rash entirely, it doesn’t have to be a frequent occurrence. 

Understanding the causes and symptoms of diaper rash—and when to seek medical attention—can go a long way toward preventing severe irritation. Many cases can be avoided entirely by regularly changing your baby, especially after bowel movements, and using ointments and creams effectively.  

For parents who want to take a proactive step to prevent diaper rash, we recommend VeryVery’s cashmere-soft, highly absorbent diapers. Designed to be gentle on the most sensitive skin, our diapers will keep your baby dry overnight, on active days, and in warm weather. With a 100% satisfaction guarantee and free shipping to your door, it’s never been easier to give your little one the very, very best.
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