A diaper is a receptacle that holds stools and urine, and therefore moisture. The combination creates wetness, which irritates the skin of the penis and vagina. Diaper rash typically shows up as an inflammation on the exposed area, and it can be quite pronounced. Later on, it can become scaly or peel. Sometimes a fungus exacerbates the irritation, in which case, the redness is surrounded with little vesicles (a type of blister) originating in the creases and extending to the prominent parts.
Diaper rash is not as painful as it looks. Most babies go about their business, even if their behind resembles a baboon’s. The rash is notoriously stubborn, however, and can persist for weeks on end, so prevention is key.
How to Prevent a Rash
• Avoid soap; it’s too drying for babies. I know you may feel you need to thoroughly clean any skin that’s been in contact with stool, but lots of running water will do the same job [See: Washing].
• Use wipes as little as possible; they’re abrasive and remove the skin’s superficial protective coating.
• Leave the diaper off or loosely attached as often as you can. Airflow will help dry off the area and prevent moisture in the diaper.
• Avoid using creams and ointments such as Desitin. They’re supposed to prevent diaper rashes, but by trapping moisture they may actually interfere with the way the skin breathes. Once a rash has set in, these diaper creams can delay the healing, which requires air. In short, use them as little as possible.
What to Do for Diaper Rash
• Since the rash is caused by the diaper and what’s in it, if you remove the diaper or leave it on loose and open, you’re tackling the problem at its source. Air is the cheapest and most effective treatment. Obviously, this is easier said than done when you have expensive furniture and rugs that you want to protect from baby urine and stool.
• A short course of steroid cream such as hydrocortisone works wonders on a stubborn diaper rash. See your doctor for these.
• Fungal diaper rashes generally respond to antifungal creams such as over-the-counter Lotrimin. Bear in mind that a fungus is a slow-growing organism— slow to multiply and slow to die—so be patient.