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How to Get Rid of Severe Diaper Rash

Updated on January 8, 2013

How Did This Ugly Rash Appear on My Little One?

When I picked my son up from day care this past Friday, I noticed that he wasn't his usual energetic almost-2-year old self. He seemed almost like he was depressed, not laughing at my usual corny jokes and funny faces. He just seemed really tired and uninterested. After eating dinner Friday night, he passed some (how to put this delicately...) "mush". Afterwards, he seemed to be in better spirits. Little did I know that this was just an indicator of what was to come.

Long story short, by Saturday afternoon my son had full-blown diarrhea (sorry...didn't know how to make that more delicate). We still do not know what caused it (germs from school, aftershocks from taking antibiotics, stomach bug, etc), but it had a large impact on his little body. Not only did the illness take a lot out of him (no pun intended), but it also caused his little bottom to become quite raw. My son is nearly two and has only had a light case of diaper rash one other time (the first week he started day care about 3 months ago). Since we had no experience with severe diaper rash, this weekend hit us all quite hard. We were changing dirty diapers literally every five minutes, but that just wasn't enough. His little buns were raw and an angry red color. Every time he saw us with the diapers and wipes he would run away and kick and scream once we caught him. Wiping him was excruciating to him. So, what is a mom to do?

Causes of Diaper Rash

Before you can treat diaper rash, you must first understand what it is and what causes it. Basically, diaper rash is irritated or raw skin that appears on the skin under your baby's diaper. Diaper rash can be caused by many things including too much friction, feces/urine on the skin, irritation from chemicals in your wipes, lotion, etc, changes in diet, allergic reactions or fungal/yeast infections. In our case, a bad case of the trots was enough to do in my son's bum.

Treating Diaper Rash

A few hours into my son's bout with diarrhea, he had already begun to flinch and squirm from sensitivity. By that night, he was screaming and crying with each diaper change. Desperate for a way to relieve his discomfort I called my Mom (of course!) and hit Google up for advice. Based on all the information that I received, this is what I came up with:

  • My son's bottom was staying wet and agitated because of his ongoing stomach problem so I continued to change his diapers as soon as he was wet or soiled (at least once an hour and as often as five minute intervals). What I wasn't doing was blotting his bottom dry after wiping him. He was cleaned, but not dried...this was key! Clean 'em up, but then follow up with a soft, clean dry cloth (or Kleenex or cottonball or whatever is comfortable for your young one). Blot, blot, blot...never rub!
  • Instead of his wipes, we began using a soft baby washcloth with clean, clear water to wipe him during diaper changes. His wipes are hypo-allergenic, fragrance free and dye free, but we figured plain water is even more gentle than that.
  • A couple of diaper changes a day (and we had tons of them) we would stand him up in the tub and just use gentle warm running water to clean his "crevices", no wiping needed. Afterwards, we would blot, blot, blot him dry.
  • Before nap time and bedtime we gave our little one a warm baking soda bath. We would pour about a 3" deep bath of warm water and sprinkle baking soda in, going from the front to the back of the tub. We would let him sit for 10 minutes. At the beginning of treatment we had to coax him to sit, but once he was in it seemed to really soothe him.
  • After each diaper change and washing up, we would dry him and then let him air dry. This was tricky when his stomach was super upset, but we would basically fold over some of our biggest most absorbent bath towels and put it under him so he could go without a diaper for a while.As much as we could get him to cooperate, we would have him lay on the towel belly down to keep him sunny side up & get more air to his bottom. We averaged 30 minutes to an hour "commando" time intervals Saturday evening and all day Sunday.
  • Once my son was cleaned, dried and air dried, we would diaper him. During diapering we applied diaper rash cream very liberally. We slathered every crevice and then loosely closed the diapers to allow air in. At the beginning, when he was super raw we had to slather the diaper with medicine instead of applying it directly.
  • I had to break out the Butt Paste, combined with a bit of Lansinoh Lanolin to treat my son's diaper rash. Desitin did not work, so I made this mixture and within 12 hours his rash was over halfway gone. By Monday, he was at about 85% healed. Not bad, considering how raw and red he was less than two days ago.

When to Call the Doctor

Most cases of diaper rash will clear up with frequent diaper changes and/or the use of basic diaper rash cream. However, there are times when you should seek professional help. If your child's case of diaper rash is bleeding, has developed sores, oozes or anything else out of the ordinary, it is definitely past time to call the doctor (what are you reading this for...grab a phone!). Normally, 3-5 days is plenty of time to clear up a case of diaper rash. If your child's rash persists more than a week, call a doctor. More persistent cases could actually be a form of a yeast infection and could require anti-fungal medication.

Hope this information helps. If anyone out there has a good diaper rash treatment that they've used, please feel free to share. Post to the comments section and help someone else out.


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