How to Treat Severe Diaper Rash

To help prevent diaper rash, change your baby's diaper as soon as it is soiled.
To help prevent diaper rash, change your baby's diaper as soon as it is soiled. (Image: babie image by Yvonne Bogdanski from

Diaper rash is a common skin infection causing red, scaly patches on a baby’s skin underneath the diaper. In severe cases, it can cause blisters and pus-filled sores. Causes of diaper rash include dirty diapers left on too long, irritation from ill-fitting diapers or detergents, or change in diet that can create changes in stool. Although diaper rash is not dangerous, severe cases should be taken seriously. Make sure you address every possible cause of the rash so your baby can heal quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean diapers
  • Soft, clean towels
  • Topical ointment (optional)

Call your doctor. In cases of severe diaper rash, your doctor may choose to prescribe a topical antifungal or steroid cream to help clear the infection quickly. Even if he does not think a prescription cream is necessary, he may suggest the use of an over-the-counter remedy such as petroleum jelly to help keep moisture away from the skin.

Tell your doctor about any dietary changes, as changes in your baby’s stool are a common cause of diaper rash. Ask him to recommend different foods while the rash is healing.

Change your baby’s diaper as soon as it is soiled. Leaving a dirty diaper on too long can make the existing rash worse. Make sure the clean diaper is on loosely, which will help air circulate and reduce irritation caused by chafing.

Clean and dry the diaper area completely each time you change diapers. Use a soft, clean towel, and avoid using alcohol wipes, which may cause further irritation.

Change your detergent. If you use cloth diapers, the detergent you use may be irritating your baby’s skin. Try a mild detergent and see if symptoms go away.

Stop using skin care products such as lotions or powders, which may contain compounds your baby is allergic to. If symptoms go away quickly, those products may have been the culprit.

Give your baby naked time. No matter how clean you keep your baby’s bottom, diapers still create the warm, moist conditions that diaper rash flourishes in. Especially in severe cases, allow as much diaper-free time as you can so skin stays drier longer and has a chance to heal.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you use cloth diapers, avoid fabric softeners that can cause further irritation and rinse them an extra two to three times to make sure all of the soap is gone.
  • Use highly absorbent diapers to keep your baby's bottom as dry as possible.
  • Do not use talc powder because it can get in your baby's lungs.
  • Do not use cornstarch because it may worsen the infection.

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