SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology, news release, December 2014
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Diaper rash is a common problem for babies, but parents can take steps that help keep skin from getting red and inflamed.
"The best way to prevent and treat diaper rash is to keep your baby's skin as dry and clean as possible," Dr. Lawrence Eichenfield, chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at the University of California, San Diego, said in an American Academy of Dermatology news release.
"With the right care, diaper rash should clear in about three to four days," he added.
The most important preventive measure is to change wet or dirty diapers as soon as possible. This reduces moisture on the skin, which can inflame a rash. Be gentle when cleaning the diaper area and use water and a soft washcloth or baby wipes that are alcohol- and fragrance-free.
After cleaning, let your baby go diaper-free for as long as possible so that the skin can dry and heal.
Use zinc oxide diaper cream. If your baby has severe diaper rash, apply the cream as if you're frosting a cake, Eichenfield said. You don't need to remove the cream with each diaper change. You can fully remove it at the end of the day.
If the baby develops signs of a skin infection, call a doctor or dermatologist. Signs of infection may include fever, blisters, pus that drains from the rash, a rash that does not go away or worsens after treatment, and a baby who is in pain or hard to console.
"Babies have very delicate skin, and sometimes despite our best efforts, diaper rash still occurs," Eichenfield said. "If your baby's diaper rash is not going away, or if you have questions or concerns about caring for your baby's skin, consult a board-certified dermatologist."
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about diaper rash.