When to Seek Medical Care
It is usually not necessary to call the doctor for a simple diaper rash. Keeping the diaper area clean and dry should prevent most diaper rashes. However, even the best prevention is sometimes not enough.
- Call your doctor if these conditions develop:
- The rash does not get better despite treatment in 4-7 days.
- The rash is getting significantly worse or has spread to other parts of the body.
- The rash appears also to have a bacterial infection, with symptoms such as a pus-like drainage or yellowish-colored crusting. This is called impetigo and needs to be treated with antibiotics.
- You are not certain what may be causing the rash.
- You suspect the rash could be from an allergy. The doctor can help you pinpoint the possible allergen.
- The rash is accompanied by diarrhea continuing for more than 48 hours.
It is very rare to need to go to the hospital for diaper rash. However, should your child appear to be in severe pain, or if you notice rapid spread of the rash with fever, you should seek medical attention.
Exams and Tests
Diagnosis is typically based on a history and physical examination of the rash. It is usually not necessary to perform lab testing. If the rash appears to be caused by an allergic response, your doctor may perform skin testing to determine the specific allergy-causing agent.
Diaper Rash Treatment - Self-Care at Home
Proper skin care is one of the most important treatments for diaper rash. The following techniques may help alleviate or shorten the duration of diaper rash.
- Diapers should be changed more often than normal.
- Skin should be washed with a very mild soap and air dried or lightly patted dry.
- The skin should be cleaned, but avoid any rough scrubbing, which could lead to further skin irritation. After cleaning, the skin should be exposed to air, leaving the diaper off for several hours if possible. Avoiding wipes during this time is helpful, as the alcohol in wipes may be irritating. You may want to consider using plain water to clean the skin.
- If you use cloth diapers, avoid using plastic pants during this time.
- Certain foods may seem to worsen the rash. If this is the case, avoid these foods until the rash has cleared.
- If the rash is caused by a contact or allergic dermatitis, stop using any new soaps or detergents that may be causing the rash.
- If the rash appears to be caused by a candidal infection, it may be treated with topical, over-the-counter antifungal creams.
- Topical steroids can be used for diaper rash caused by allergic, atopic, or seborrheic causes but should not be used for fungal infections.
- Zinc oxide may also be effective.