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Diaper rash is a skin inflammation (swelling, redness) caused by contact with an irritant. The redness is sometimes uniform and limited to the buttocks, or diffuse, and having expanding to the perineum, genitalia, and inner thighs. When skin remains moist for prolonged periods, a fungal infection can develop and complicate things further. Healthy skin always plays host to various microbes (bacteria, fungus). However, an infection can occur when the population of one of these microbes develops too rapidly. The affected skin then becomes inflamed. The main cause of diaper rash is prolonged contact with urine or stools. Several factors can aggravate such a situation:
Even though there are several effective treatments for diaper rash, prevention is still the best option! Generally speaking, the baby's skin should be kept dry and clean at all times, and contact with irritants (perfume, soaps, urine...) should be avoided as much as possible.
Most dusting powders can be used, but use talcum powder with caution because its particles are so fine they can irritate a baby's lungs. Never use sodium bicarbonate. On the other hand, cornstarch is a safe and effective alternative (even though it was once believed to be ineffective).
When these preventive measures are not enough, parents can treat diaper rash without consulting the baby's physician. Treatment is aimed at controlling the irritation and the infection. First, change the baby's diaper more frequently and apply a zinc oxide-based product every time. And keep following the recommendations listed above to the letter.
If the redness becomes very extensive or persists for more than 3 days, or if you are unsure of what's best for your baby, consult your doctor who may prescribe an antifungal or anti-inflammatory agent, as needed.
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.