Kids Home > Diaper Rash Treatment

There are many at-home treatments for diaper rash. The key to effective treatment is to decrease exposure to the irritant (specifically urine and stool) and give the skin a chance to heal; this means keeping your child's bottom clean and dry. If the treatment option you are using does not help, talk to your child's healthcare provider about other available choices.

How to Treat Diaper Rash: The First Steps

Treating a diaper rash is not hard. The good news is that most rashes are cured rather quickly with a little bit of home treatment and time.
It can be helpful, though, to understand what causes most diaper rashes in the first place. There are three primary causes of diaper rash:
  • Moist environment
  • Friction
  • Irritation from urine and stool.
Eliminate or minimize these, and you are well on your way to treating a diaper rash.

Specific Diaper Rash Treatment Plan

In most cases, the key to effective treatment of diaper rashes is to decrease exposure to the irritant (specifically urine and stool) and give the skin a chance to heal. This means keeping your child's bottom clean and dry.
Here are some things that you should do:
  • Diaper-free time. Letting your baby hang out without a diaper on can be fun and cute to watch -- but watch out for accidents! The cool air might be all it takes. However, there is a limit to how much diaper-free time most parents can practically give their infants.
  • Change your baby's diaper as soon as it becomes wet or dirty. You may find yourself going through many more diapers than usual during this time. Changing the diaper every two hours is a good rule of thumb while your baby has diaper rash. This means you might have to get up once at night to change a diaper.
There are special "sensitive" diapers currently available. One particular brand (Pampers® Swaddlers Sensitive Diapers) even has a wetness indicator (visible from the outside of the diaper) that changes color when the diaper is wet.
Keep in mind that newborns usually require frequent diaper changes, even in the middle of the night, since they often have a bowel movement during or after each feeding.
  • Keep the skin clean with warm water or "sensitive wipes." Warm water and a soft washcloth are a good option for cleaning your child's bottom. You can use a bulb syringe filled with warm water to get the more severe areas clean or in areas where the skin is peeling or broken. Dried stool can be removed with mineral oil applied to a cotton ball. Soap is not recommended because it can further irritate the skin.
Some of the high-quality "sensitive" baby wipes now available are a good alternative and are more practical to a washcloth and water.
  • Be gentle and careful. As a general rule, anything you can do to avoid further irritating the skin, the better. Once the area gets red and irritated, it is easy to start chafing. Treating the area once the skin has broken can take twice as long.
When washing and drying your infant's bottom, pat or dab the area instead of rubbing.
  • Let it dry. Give the area time to dry completely before putting on a new diaper. Decreasing the moist environment allows diaper rashes to heal faster. Some parents have even been known to use a hair dryer (on the "cool" setting, of course) to make sure the diaper area is completely dry.
It is also critical that the area be dry before applying any diaper rash creams or ointments. If you apply such products to moist skin, it will simply seal in the moisture, making the rash worse.
  • Go disposable. If you are using cloth diapers, it is recommended that you switch to disposable diapers until the rash clears up. Disposable diapers are specifically designed to wick away moisture from the skin, which helps in the healing process.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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