Know your skin | Diaper rash

What is diaper rash

A diaper rash is any rash on the skin area covered by a diaper. Synonyms include diaper dermatitis (dermatitis = inflammation of the skin), napkin (or “nappy”) dermatitis, and ammonia dermatitis. While diaper rash is generally thought to affect infants and toddlers, any individual wearing a diaper (for example, an incontinent adult) is a candidate to develop this dermatitis.

But almost every child (between 7 and 35%) gets diaper rashes from time to time. A diaper rash causes the skin to become red, irritated, broken and very sensitive. Consequently, touching the skin can be very painful. The affected area can be paler or darker than the surrounding skin. The rash may be mild with minor bumps or spots or it may be red and irritated with blisters or broken skin. Diaper rash can be easily treated. However, hygiene and proper treatment is very important.

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When does diaper rash appear

Diaper rash mostly affects babies between the ages of 4 and 15 months, with the peak age for diaper rash being between 9 to 12 months. But also adults who have to wear a diaper are a target for getting diaper rash. Diaper rash appears to be more common:

  • when a baby is formula fed rather than breastfed

  • once a baby starts eating solid foods or ‘new’ foods

  • when a baby is teething

  • if diapers are not changed regularly (the same for babies and adults)

  • in case of sensitive skin condition, such as eczema (the same for babies and adults)

  • when a baby/adult has frequent, watery bowel movements

  • when a baby/adult is taking antibiotics (or a nursing mother is taking antibiotics)

A baby/adult is also more prone to diaper rash when he/she has a cold or feels unwell for any other reason, because the body’s natural defenses are not working as well as they should at that time.  

There are different levels of diaper rash and also other types of (baby) rashes:

Diaper rash can be ‘marked’ in different levels; light, mild, mild to moderate, moderate and severe. Each level has its own characteristics and visual appearance. Each diaper rash level comes also with its own (pain) related problems. Every baby creates it own specific rash also. Keep in mind that in a “light” situation, when the skin appears to be intact, the skin may be slightly damaged. The use of a product may give a (skin) reaction.

A baby’s rash may be something other than diaper rash, such as a yeast infection, psoriasis or impetigo. These rashes are more worse then diaper rash, definitely when they are present same time as diaper rash.

It is advised to call a pediatrician if a baby shows heavy symptoms without knowing what kind rash it is.

Is diaper rash a sign of neglectful care?

No, not at all. Although it is very important to take care for optimal hygiene and frequent diaper changes. The basic causes for this common kind of skin irritation are still under active debate in the field of dermatology. While the rash may develop as early as the first week of life, the most frequent time period is between 9-12 months of age.  

Allergic reactions are a less common cause of diaper rash. Commonly proposed allergens are fragrances and components of the diaper and wipes. These regions often have well-defined zones of redness with superficial vesicles and erosions. If the diagnosis of allergic skin reaction is suspect, skin-patch testing may be done to identify the offending agent. This is rarely necessary.

What causes diaper rash?

Basically anything that irritates the skin or alters the protective layer of the skin can cause diaper rash at babies and adults. While there are several broad categories of causes of diaper rash, contact irritation is the most common culprit. Common reasons for diaper rash to develop include:

  • urine (pee)

  • stool (poop)

  • moisture (after bathing or sweat)

  • chaffing

  • skin conditions

  • general ointments, creams, lotions and powders

  • chemical irritants

  • allergic reaction

Best Practice … to prevent/treat diaper-rash

The best way to deal with diaper rash is to try to prevent from getting it in the first place. These simple steps will help:

  • Start applying, as early on as possible, a protective layer onto the skin/buttocks. The 4% Zinc oxide spray is the right choice as a preventative spray. 4% Zinc oxide spray may be used as early as in the first month of birth

  • When diaper rash appears, 10% Zinc oxide cream spray gives adequate protection and care to the skin

  • When diaper rash disappears it is advised to continue the use of either sprays

  • Where general Zinc Oxide creams with a high Zinc Oxide content result in a skin drying effect, the basic formulation of ForTunique’s sprays have skin caring properties

  • The sprays are skin friendly, skin caring and mildly skin disinfecting

  • With the use of a spray you never have to leave the baby unattended on the dresser

  • In elderly care, diaper rash treatment is often associated with shame. Using a spray can make the daily care more acceptable

  • The spray can be used with one hand. The one hand application keeps your hands free of cream

  • There is no need to touch the skin, but you may if necessary

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