Home treatment is generally all
that is needed for most cases of
diaper rash. At the first sign of a diaper rash, try
the following steps:
- Keep the skin dry, and make sure the skin is not
in contact with urine and stool.
- Change the diaper or incontinence brief every
time it is wet or soiled. During the daytime, check the diaper or brief every 3
hours. You may need to change the diaper or brief during the night to prevent
or clear up a rash. It is not unusual to change a diaper or brief 8 times in a
- Use a superabsorbent disposable diaper.
- Gently wash the diaper area with warm water and a
soft cloth. Rinse well and dry completely.
- Do not use any soap unless the area is very
soiled. Use only a mild soap if soap is needed.
- Do not use "baby
wipes" that have alcohol or propylene glycol to clean the skin while a diaper
rash is present. These may burn the skin and spread bacteria on the
- You may use a blow-dryer set on warm setting to get the
diaper area fully dry on adults. Do not use a blow-dryer on babies or small
- Leave diapers and incontinence briefs off as much
- Protect the healthy skin near the rash with a cream
such as Desitin, Diaparene, A&D Ointment, or zinc oxide. Do not apply the
cream to broken skin, because it can slow the healing process.
- If you use a
disposable product, fold the plastic area away from the body, and do not put
the diaper on too tightly. Do not use bulky or many-layered diapers or
- Do not use plastic pants until the rash is
- Give more fluids to make the urine less concentrated.
Cranberry juice may be used by adults and children over 12 months of age. Do
not use other juices, which may make the urine more irritating to the
If the diaper rash does not get better after several days, try
the following steps.
- Soak in a warm bath for 10 minutes, 3 times a
day, if the skin is very raw.
- For babies and young children, add
2 Tbsp (30 mL) of baking soda
to a baby tub, a basin of warm water, or a bathtub. Remember, do not bathe a baby
umbilical cord has fallen off, and never leave a child
alone while he or she is in the bath.
- Have older children and adults sit in a
bathtub with a few inches of warm water or use a
- If you use a disposable product, change brands or
switch to a cloth product. Try a superabsorbent disposable diaper or brief with
absorbent gelling material (AGM), which pulls moisture away from the skin. Some
people are less likely to develop a rash with one diapering product than
- If you use a cloth product, switch to a disposable
product. The cloth or the products used to clean the cloth diaper may be
causing the rash.
- If you use cloth and do not want to switch to a
disposable product, change detergents.
- Rinse diapers or briefs twice when
- Use vinegar in the final rinse at a strength of
1 fl oz (30 mL) vinegar to
1 gal (4 L) of water.
When treating a diaper rash:
- Do not use a nonprescription adult vaginal yeast
medicine on a baby or child. Check with your doctor before using any product
made for an adult on a baby or child.
- Adults can use a
nonprescription adult yeast medicine to treat diaper rash. Follow the
instructions on the package.
- Do not use baby powder while a rash is
present. The powder can build up in the skin creases and hold moisture. This
may help bacteria grow and cause an infection.
- Do not use
cornstarch on a rash in the diaper area. Cornstarch also allows bacteria to
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
- A rash in the diaper area looks like a rash on other
parts of the body.
- Signs of infection
- Symptoms become more severe or frequent.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
February 21, 2012
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