Unless you’re practicing elimination communication and are eschewing diapers altogether, there’s a good chance that your child will, at some point, contract a case of diaper rash. So many factors can contribute to the uncomfortable irritation that it’s not even always easy to pin down the culprit. Babies with sensitive skin can have a bad reaction to a particular brand of diapers or wipes, new laundry detergent or lotions and baby powders and oils. Introducing new foods when the time comes for a starter solid diet can also wreak havoc on their little bodies, making diaper rash more likely. If your baby has been prescribed antibiotics, they can also kill the beneficial bacteria in her intestinal tract, causing diaper rash as a result of a yeast infection. Other common causes include diapers that fit too tightly, which can rub and chafe Baby’s skin, and wearing a soiled diaper for a bit too long.
Recognizing the signs of a diaper rash isn’t always easy, but there are some symptoms that almost seem universal. These are five of the signs that your baby could be suffering from a diaper rash, and strong indicators that treatment is in order.
- Bright Red or Swollen Skin – Swelling and redness are two of the most common and easily recognizable signs of a diaper rash. If you notice the skin that your baby’s diaper covers seems red, raised or swollen, you’re almost certainly looking at a mild case of diaper rash.
- An Irritable Disposition – When your skin is irritated, it makes you uncomfortable. When your baby has a diaper rash, she’s dealing with skin irritation that she can’t relieve, and it will more than likely make her fussy and cause noticeable changes in her disposition. A baby who’s fussier than normal may be feeling the first tingles of a pesky rash, so keep your eyes peeled for any swelling, redness or other diaper rash red flags.
- Obvious Discomfort – It’s not difficult to spot a baby that’s feeling uncomfortable. If your child is obviously not feeling her best and you’ve ruled out other culprits, it’s probably time to check her diaper. She could be suffering from a diaper rash that you haven’t yet noticed, and exhibiting signs of her discomfort by crying or acting fussy.
- Dark Red Skin and Lesions – Yeast infections can occur in babies, especially if they’ve been prescribed antibiotics that deplete the beneficial bacteria charged with keeping yeast in her intestinal system in check. Lesions, dark red skin in her diaper area and even scaliness can be signs of a yeast infection. In addition, these infections can present themselves with slightly raised borders and clusters of “satellite” lesions that are slightly removed from the main area of irritation. They can also be spotted by their persistence, as yeast infections tend to hang around even after treatment has begun and can be difficult to manage at home.
- A Strong Smell of Ammonia – Urine itself can cause a diaper rash commonly referred to as an ammonia rash, which will often present with the same symptoms as other types of diaper rash, and is accompanied by a strong odor of ammonia. When the naturally-occurring ammonia that forms during urine decomposition comes into contact with bacteria on Baby’s skin, the rash that can form is easily identified by the smell of ammonia during a diaper change.
In most cases, a diaper rash will clear up on its own, provided that the skin is kept as clean and dry as possible, but it may be necessary to consult your baby’s pediatrician if the rash is persistent or severe. She will likely prescribe mild hydrocortisone creams, antifungal creams or other topical treatments to help speed the healing process. It may also help to speed the healing process and prevent future rashes by allowing your baby to go without a diaper whenever possible.