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How long will diaper rash last?

Do your toughest questions about diaper rash come up after your family doctor's hours? Then you’ll want to read up on pediatricians’ best advice on large and small topics to help ease your little one’s discomfort.

Should I change my baby’s diet?

Some things, 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 diet tweaks, but don’t change what your baby eats for long -- or stop giving medicine -- without talking to your doctor.

Does teething cause diaper rash?

These two things often happen at the same time, but it's unlikely they're related, says New York dermatologist Nanette Silverberg, MD.

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, 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.

Should I switch to cloth diapers?

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

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

Switch to another brand if you've tried everything and your little one still has a sore bottom. A fragrance or dye could irritate her skin or even cause an allergic reaction. Plain white diapers are safest, Siegfried says.

It’s rare, but some babies are allergic to all disposables and do better with cloth diapers. Be sure to change them often. If your baby has a rash, check the diaper every hour and at least once at night.

Cloth diaper systems might keep your baby's bottom drier than traditional cottons. They come with flushable liners, fleece liners, super-absorbent inserts, and outer covers or wraps.

What types of wipes are most gentle on a baby’s sore bottom?

A mild wipe without alcohol or fragrances might be worth a try when your baby has a diaper rash. “In general, look for products with as few ingredients as possible,” Siegfried says. “Stick with the simple stuff.”

You can choose wipes marked "hypoallergenic" or "for sensitive skin," though there's no guarantee they're any better.

If there’s no poop, you might not need a wipe, Siegfried says. Even if there's a mess, you can:

  • Clean your baby with a wet washcloth and plenty of water.
  • Dampen a cotton makeup square with mineral oil to clean his bottom.

What if the rash spreads to other body parts?

If red patches, spots, or bumps start to show up outside the diaper area, your child might have an infection. Tell your doctor -- you may need a prescription medicine or an over-the-counter product.

What can I do to give my baby some relief?

The simplest thing is to let his bottom get some air. Before and after baths and naps, or whenever you get a chance, leave the diaper off for a few minutes. This gives his skin a break from constant rubbing and kills harmful germs that thrive in dark, wet places like the inside of a diaper.

To ease the pain, try a soak in an oatmeal bath like the ones sold for itchy skin. Also, ointments protect bottoms from chafing and irritating liquids.

“Zinc oxide pastes are the standard of diaper care,” Silverberg says. “Children tend to feel a soothing relief when these are applied.”

How long will diaper rash last?

Call the doctor if it doesn’t start to get better after 3 days of TLC or if it gets worse.

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