Diaper rash: definition, causes and treatment for your baby

In collaboration with Rokiyah Hosen

Relecture professionnelle

Is your baby showing signs of redness and pimples on the diaper area? He could be suffering from diaper rash. This condition frequently affects children aged between 6 months and 1 year, and can last up to 15 months. Often benign, it is nonetheless painful. In fact, 10 to 15% of all consultations with pediatricians concern "red bottoms". But how do you recognize and relieve diaper rash? Let's find out.

What is diaper rash?

Diaper rash, commonly known as "red bottom", is an inflammation of baby's skin caused by prolonged contact with a soiled diaper. This diaper dermatitis can also be caused by irritation due to substances present in certain disposable diapers, or by the detergent used to clean cloth diapers. It is therefore not a childhood illness.

Your child can suffer from diaper rash as early as the third week of life. The occlusiveeffect of diapers creates a climate conducive to maceration, making the epidermis more vulnerable. The prevalence of this skin irritation remains particularly high between 6 and 12 months. The inflammatory crisis generally lasts 2 to 4 days.

What are the symptoms of diaper rash?

If your baby suffers from diaper rash, he or she will present the following symptoms:

  • Very red, hot buttocks;
  • Red patches sometimes bordered by small pimples (papules);
  • W-shaped irritation affecting the thighs, buttocks and genitals.

If leftuntreated, the skin can become raw. In the most severe cases, theinflammation may be accompanied by cracks orulcerations, affecting the folds of the thighs and buttocks, the stomach and the lower back.

How to treat irritation caused by diaper dermatitis?

Irritant diaper dermatitis usually heals within a few days, without medical treatment. To relieve diaper rash, you can :

  • Change your child's diaper as soon as it is soiled by stools or urine;
  • Gently wash baby's bottom with absorbent cotton soaked in warm water and mild soap;
  • Patthe area dry with a clean towel;
  • Apply an unscentedprotective cream based on zinc oxide, vaseline (petroleum jelly) liniment oléo-calcaire or lanolin to limit inflammation;
  • Leave your child bare-bottomed for several minutes a day to allow the skin to breathe.

Do not use talcum powder, as this may accentuate maceration inside the diaper. If inhaled, this powder can also cause respiratory problems in infants. So avoid this product!

If your child is less than 6 weeks old, or ifdiaper rash worsens and is accompanied by signs of infection (pustules and fever), consult a health professional without delay.

Beware of "red bottoms" with Candidasuperinfection

Is your child's bottom still red after 4 days, and does it seem to be getting worse? It's possible that he's suffering from diaper rash superinfection with Candida.

What is Candida?

Candida Albicans is a microscopic fungus that lives in human mucous membranes (mouth, digestive tract, vagina). Its presence in the body is perfectly normal, as it contributes to the proper functioning of the microbiota. If it proliferates, however, it can cause a local infection known as "candidiasis", "mycosis" or "thrush".

How to recognize and deal with a Candida infection?

A Candida infection in the breech area can be distinguished by the presence of a scarlet-red rash dotted with small pustules and possibly covered by a whitish coating. It may also be accompanied by fever.

If you have any doubts, make an appointment as soon as possible with your child's doctor or pediatrician to confirm the diagnosis. An antifungal cream will be prescribed for mycosis. This treatment should be applied to the lesions once or several times a day until healed. Don't forget to wash your hands thoroughly before and after each diaper change, to limit the risk of contagion.

Our 3 tips to prevent diaper rash

Want to know how to prevent diaper rash in infants? Here are 3 effective tips to prevent irritation of baby's bottom.

1. Regular diaper changes

As we've seen, regular diaper changes are the best way to prevent red, inflamed bottoms. So remember to change your child's diaper at least 6 times a day, and after every bowel movement. You'll reduce the risk of maceration, and your little one's skin will be less prone to irritation.

2. Choosing the right diaper for comfort

It's also important to choose a diaper that respects baby's bottom and provides greater comfort. Eco-friendly disposable diapers generally have a healthier composition. The fabric in contact with baby's skin is made from natural fibers that are much less irritating. Choose brands that have been awarded an environmental label, such as the demanding Nordic Swan Ecolabel.

You can also opt for cloth diapers made from OEKO-TEX-certified plant-based materials®, such as cotton or bamboo viscose. Their high absorbency will keep baby's bottom dry and prevent rashes.

3. Potty training your growing baby

When baby's ready, encourage him to go potty on his own. This way, his diapers won't be soiled as often, and you'll limit the risk of diaper rash. To help him along the path to potty training, you can also suggest that he wear training pants easier to remove and much more comfortable.

Diaper rash FAQ

How to recognize diaper rash in your baby?

If your baby has diaper rash, his bottom will be bright red and he'll have a W-shaped rash on his pubic area, bottom and upper thighs. He may also have red patches dotted with small pimples.

What's the best cream to relieve "red bottom"?

To relieve diaper rash, we generally recommend applying a protective, soothing cream formulated with zinc oxide, vaseline or lanolin. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on the most suitable ointment for your child.

How to tell the difference between diaper rash and fungus?

A diaper rash is an irritation of baby's skin caused by prolonged contact with a diaper soiled by urine and feces. A mycosis is an infection resulting from the proliferation of naturally occurring fungi such as Candida albicans. If your toddler suffers from candidiasis of the breech area, he or she will experience a severe rash, sometimes covered with a whitish coating.

Is bedwetting normal after the age of 8?

Yes, your child may suffer from nocturnal enuresis after the age of 8, due to a regressive episode or traumatic life event. It's important to pinpoint the origin of these episodes, so that you can work with your healthcare professional to suggest appropriate courses of action.