PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
A few simple strategies can help decrease the likelihood of diaper rash developing on your baby's skin:
- Change diapers often. Remove dirty diapers promptly. If your child is in child care, ask staff members to do the same.
- Rinse your baby's bottom with water as part of each diaper change. You can use a sink, tub or water bottle for this purpose. Moist washcloths and cotton balls also can aid in cleaning the skin. Don't use wipes that contain alcohol or fragrance.
- Pat your baby dry with a clean towel. Don't scrub your baby's bottom. Scrubbing can further irritate the skin.
- Don't overtighten diapers. Diapers that are too tight prevent airflow into the diaper region, setting up a moist environment favorable to diaper rashes. Tightfitting diapers can also cause chafing at the waist or thighs.
- Give your baby's bottom more time without a diaper. When possible, let your baby go without a diaper. Exposing skin to air is a natural and gentle way to let it dry. To avoid messy accidents, try laying your baby on a large towel and engage in some playtime while he or she is bare-bottomed.
- Wash cloth diapers carefully. Pre-soak heavily soiled cloth diapers and use hot water to wash them. Use a mild detergent and skip the fabric softeners and dryer sheets because they can contain fragrances that may irritate your baby's skin. Double rinse your baby's diapers if your child already has a diaper rash or is prone to developing diaper rash. If you use a diaper service to clean your baby's diapers, make sure the diaper service takes these steps as well.
- Consider using ointment regularly. If your baby gets rashes often, apply a barrier ointment during each diaper change to prevent skin irritation. Petroleum jelly and zinc oxide are the time-proven ingredients included in many prepared diaper ointments. Using these products on clear skin helps keep it in good condition.
- After changing diapers, wash your hands well. Hand washing can prevent the spread of bacteria or yeast to other parts of your baby's body, to you or to other children.
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, though disposables may keep baby's skin slightly drier. Because there's no one best diaper — use whatever works best for you and your baby. If one brand of disposable diaper irritates your baby's skin, try another.
Whether you use cloth diapers, disposables or both kinds, always change your baby as soon as possible after he or she soils the diaper to keep the bottom as clean and dry as possible.
- Horii KA. Overview of diaper dermatitis in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed March 7, 2012.
- What can I do if my baby gets diaper rash? American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/pages/Diaper-Rash-Solution.aspx. Accessed April 2, 2012.
- Scheinfeld N. Diaper dermatitis: A review and brief survey of eruptions of the diaper area. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. 2005;6:273.
- Shin HT. Diaper dermatitis that does not quit. Dermatologic Therapy. 2005;18:124.