Baby skin is different. It’s more permeable, less able to retain moisture, more vulnerable to damage, and sensitive to irritations. While there are benefits to this, it often means that babies develop more skin conditions than we do. By some estimates, up to 50% of infants will experience a diaper rash at some point. There are many ways to treat these unpleasant rashes but it may also help to understand the 4 most common types of diaper rash.
1) Allergic Dermatitis
This type of rash is caused by an allergic reaction to something touching the skin. It could be anything from an ingredient in your baby soap to a laundry detergent. It will present as a red, irritated rash on the bottom, but it is important to check elsewhere on your baby for similar signs. Synthetic fragrances and preservatives are common culprits, so take a good look at ingredients for anything that you’re using on baby.
We recommend using natural products for bath time and laundry to avoid any reactions like these. We've even got many of these items available zero-waste at our Refillery.
2) Irritant Dermatitis
Similar to allergic dermatitis, this rash is most likely caused by the actual diaper. This is by far the most common type of diaper rash seen and occurs when wet skin is in contact with the diaper. Irritant dermatitis presents as swelling and redness over the edges of the diaper, on top of the bum and around the legs. Giving baby diaper-free time can be very helpful to air out the skin allowing it to fully dry. If you're using cloth diapers, a fleece-lined diaper or a fleece liner can be very helpful for maintaining a moisture barrier. Using an herbal or non-nano zinc diaper cream can help not only to protect the skin from moisture but also to help speed up the healing.
3) Bacterial Dermatitis
As the name suggests, this type of rash is caused by bacteria. Most commonly it is caused by Staph or Strep infections. Bacterial rashes tend to occur when the skin is already irritated from untreated rashes. A staph rash will present with pus-filled blisters that rupture easily and form a crust or scab. A strep rash will show up as a bright red ring, usually around the anus and extending into the perineum. There may also be blood in the stool. This type of rash will need prompt medical attention to treat properly.
4) Candida Dermatitis
Also known as a yeast infection. Yeast tends to grow well in warm, moist environments. Your baby’s diaper can make an ideal spot for yeast to thrive. There are many causes that encourage yeast overgrowth including a microbe imbalance in the gut, reactions to soaps or other products, diarrhea, or ill fitting diapers. A candida rash will present as redness and swelling in the creases of the legs, bottom and genitals rather than around the diaper lines. There are often also smaller round rash spots near the main large rash. You may need to visit your doctor, who may prescribe an over the counter anti-fungal cream to help alleviate the symptoms. Be sure to protect your cloth diapers from prescription creams which are based in petroleum oils with a biodegradable liner like our favourites from Mother ease and AMP.
If any of these rashes present with a fever, please seek medical care.
Learning the different types of rashes can help you investigate and determine potential causes. Although diaper rashes are very common, it’s good to be aware of the potential risks involved and when you need to seek medical care.
With the right care, you can keep your little one’s bum happy, healthy, and baby-soft!