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Expert Answers for Diaper Rash Questions

By Betsy Riley
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD

Do your toughest questions about diaper rash come up after your family doctor's hours? Help is on the way. 

Here, pediatricians offer their best advice on large and small topics to help ease your little one’s discomfort.

Should I change my baby’s diet?

Some foods, such as fruit juices, can give babies diarrhea or make their poop goopy, leading to diaper rash. Taking antibiotics or starting solid foods can also affect their digestion. 

You can try minor adjustments, but don’t change your baby's diet for long -- or stop giving medicine -- without talking to your doctor.

Does teething cause diaper rash?

Teething and diaper rash often happen at the same time, but it's unlikely that they're related, says Nanette Silverberg, MD. She's a dermatologist at St. Luke's-Roosevelt and Beth Israel in New York.

Do I need to wipe off all the ointment every time I change the diaper?

Ointments such as zinc oxide are like wax for your car, says Elaine Siegfried, MD. She's a professor of pediatrics and dermatology at Saint Louis University.

You’re putting a thick layer of paste between your baby’s skin and irritating liquids. Rubbing it all off hurts more than it helps. Pat urine dry gently and wipe away poop, then apply some extra ointment.

Will dabbing an antacid on the rash help?

Maybe. Diarrhea can be very acidic. If the rash was caused by diarrhea, a liquid antacid might be worth a try, says Wanda Filer, MD. She's the president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians. 

You might have a bottle of this chalky liquid in the medicine cabinet to ease heartburn. Dab a little on your baby's rash with a cotton ball, let it dry, then add diaper ointment to shield the skin before the next messy diaper.

Should I switch to cloth diapers?

The right answer will depend on what works best for your baby. There's no clear proof that one type of diaper is better for diaper rash.

If you prefer disposables, give them a fair chance. Rashes tend to grow in moist environments, and disposables are very good at wicking liquids away from a baby’s skin.

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