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Diaper Rash - Home Treatment

Home treatment is generally all that is needed for most cases of diaper rash. At the first sign of a diaper rash, try the following steps:

  • Keep the skin dry, and make sure the skin is not in contact with urine and stool.
    • Change the diaper or incontinence brief every time it is wet or soiled. During the daytime, check the diaper or brief every 3 hours. You may need to change the diaper or brief during the night to prevent or clear up a rash. It is not unusual to change a diaper or brief 8 times in a 24-hour period.
    • Use a superabsorbent disposable diaper.
  • Gently wash the diaper area with warm water and a soft cloth. Rinse well and dry completely.
    • Do not use any soap unless the area is very soiled. Use only a mild soap if soap is needed.
    • Do not use "baby wipes" that have alcohol or propylene glycol to clean the skin while a diaper rash is present. These may burn the skin and spread bacteria on the skin.
    • You may use a blow-dryer set on warm setting to get the diaper area fully dry on adults. Do not use a blow-dryer on babies or small children.
  • Leave diapers and incontinence briefs off as much as possible.
  • Protect the healthy skin near the rash with a cream such as Desitin, Diaparene, A&D Ointment, or zinc oxide. Do not apply the cream to broken skin, because it can slow the healing process.
  • If you use a disposable product, fold the plastic area away from the body, and do not put the diaper on too tightly. Do not use bulky or many-layered diapers or incontinence briefs.
  • Do not use plastic pants until the rash is gone.
  • Give more fluids to make the urine less concentrated. Cranberry juice may be used by adults and children over 12 months of age. Do not use other juices, which may make the urine more irritating to the skin.

If the diaper rash does not get better after several days, try the following steps.

  • Soak in a warm bath for 10 minutes, 3 times a day, if the skin is very raw.
    • For babies and young children, add 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of baking soda to a baby tub, a basin of warm water, or a bathtub. Remember, do not bathe a baby until the umbilical cord has fallen off, and never leave a child alone while he or she is in the bath.
    • Have older children and adults sit in a bathtub with a few inches of warm water or use a sitz bath.
  • If you use a disposable product, change brands or switch to a cloth product. Try a superabsorbent disposable diaper or brief with absorbent gelling material (AGM), which pulls moisture away from the skin. Some people are less likely to develop a rash with one diapering product than another.
  • If you use a cloth product, switch to a disposable product. The cloth or the products used to clean the cloth diaper may be causing the rash.
  • If you use cloth and do not want to switch to a disposable product, change detergents.
    • Rinse diapers or briefs twice when washing.
    • Use vinegar in the final rinse at a strength of 1 fl oz (30 mL) vinegar to 1 gal (4 L) of water.

When treating a diaper rash:

  • Do not use a nonprescription adult vaginal yeast medicine on a baby or child. Check with your doctor before using any product made for an adult on a baby or child.
  • Adults can use a nonprescription adult yeast medicine to treat diaper rash. Follow the instructions on the package.
  • Do not use baby powder while a rash is present. The powder can build up in the skin creases and hold moisture. This may help bacteria grow and cause an infection.
  • Do not use cornstarch on a rash in the diaper area. Cornstarch also allows bacteria to grow.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 21, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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