Most diaper rashes don't need medical care. They often clear up with the right treatments at home. Change your baby’s diaper often, and let him have some naked time so his skin can completely dry. That will help improve the irritated area.
If the problem doesn’t get better after 3 or 4 days, call your pediatrician.
For an ordinary rash, the doctor may recommend an over-the-counter ointment that has zinc oxide or petroleum jelly to protect the skin.
If your child gets a bacterial infection, he may need an antibiotic ointment.
For diaper rashes caused by candida, a type of yeast, your pediatrician will prescribe an antifungal cream and possibly an antifungal medicine, usually a liquid that your baby will swallow.
For diaper rashes involving the skin conditions seborrheic dermatitis or eczema, doctors sometimes prescribe corticosteroid cream (which should not be used in the genital area). Over-the-counter antifungal and mild corticosteroid creams that have hydrocortisone are other options. But check with the pediatrician first to see if you should try those or get a prescription cream.
How Can I Prevent Diaper Rash?
It's hard to do. Your best strategy is to let your baby go without diapers as much as possible.
You can shorten a case of diaper rash, or make it not as severe, by keeping your baby dry and clean. Change his diaper as soon as it gets dirty.
If you use cloth diapers, wash them in hot water. Also, use bleach or vinegar in the rinse water, and add extra rinse cycles to help kill bacteria and remove traces of soap.
Hoekelman, R. (editor) Primary Pediatric Care, Mosby, 2001.
American Academy of Pediatrics: Healthy Children, Fall 2007.