A form of irritant contact dermatitis, Diaper Rash, affects the area of skin which comes in direct contact with a diaper or cloth nappie. It generally affects babies who are in napkins/ diapers perpetually but may sometimes affect adults and children who suffer from urinary or faecal incontinence & use diapers as well.
Also referred to as Napkin Dermatitis, Nappy rash or Irritant Diaper Dermatitis, the condition can be diaper-associated or non-diaper-associated. The skin of babies (esp. between 0-12 months) that stays in contact with the diaper gets easily affected because it is very tender and soft. The risk of Diaper rash/ dermatitis is higher in immune-compromised patients.
Diaper rash or Dermatitis can be a terribly irritating condition that can make your little bundle of joy cranky, fussy and frustrated.
SYMPTOMS TO LOOK FOR:
- Blotchy pink rash or extensive red bumps over the skin of the diaper area (baby’s bottom)
- Burning sensation, especially while passing urine or stool
- Scaling of the affected area with erosion of skin layers
- Bleeding, oozing, or itching
- In severe cases, ulceration or blister formation, accompanied by fever
WHAT CAUSES DIAPER RASH
- Wetness – Ammonia, released when urine comes in contact with the bacteria in stool, can get harsh on the skin. Even the best diapers can leave some moisture on the skin, so change them as soon as you notice your child wet.
- Diarrhoea – Frequent bowel movements mean more waste and moisture in the diaper area, making diaper rashes more likely.
- Antibiotics – If your child (or breastfeeding mom) is on antibiotics, the medication can reduce the number of healthy bacteria that keep yeast or fungus in check, so infections are more likely.
- New foods – Foods change the composition of stool and urine. For instance, tomatoes and oranges have more acid, which some babies might not be used to.
- Infection – A warm and moist area is a perfect spot for infection. A yeast or thrush infection can take hold, especially in the skin folds.
- Chaffing – A diaper has to be worn snugly to do its job, but the snugness can cause chafing due to skin rubbing against it.
WHAT CAN DIAPER DERMATITIS LEAD TO
- Diaper Dermatitis can irritate your baby’s skin, annoy your little one and in turn, may cause an alarming situation for already tense parents.
- Baby becomes uncomfortable, cranky, irritable and cries more frequently, especially when the affected area is touched or washed.
- Diaper rash can get secondarily infected by fungus, bacteria or yeast, worsening the situation further.
- A serious secondary infection can result in severe pain and may affect the overall general health of the baby.
Every case of Diaper Dermatitis must be provided with immediate medical attention to prevent graver consequences.
Consult your doctor if the rash looks infected or if you notice any bleeding, blisters, pimples, yellow patches, or open sores. Your doctor may prescribe topical treatments [steroid creams], antibiotics, or antifungals. Also, call the doctor if the rash does not abate in a week or if your baby develops a fever.
Diaper Dermatitis, if not treated well, can lead to frequent recurrences.
HOW CAN HOMOEOPATHY HELP IN DIAPER DERMATITIS
Homoeopathy is very efficient in managing Diaper Dermatitis with an excellent success rate in both children and the elderly without the use of antibiotics or steroids. The gentle and effective system of medicine is safe to use even in newborns and comes without any side effects. Here are a few GEMS that I have found extremely useful in treating the condition:
- Apis Mellifica: Puffed-up, sensitive, rosy and edematous skin over the diaper area with burning and stinging pain.
- Borax: The baby cries and screams before nursing or passing stool/ urine due to the thrush. Skin is dry, red and inflamed.
- Cantharis: Extremely suitable remedy for Diaper Dermatitis where the skin looks beefy red, scaly and scalded. Red, hot and painful blisters. Cold water and touch aggravate the skin condition.
- Graphites: Graphite’s constitution has extremely dry, cracked, red, scaly and itchy skin. There is a sticky discharge from the crusty-looking skin.
- Hepar Sulphuricum: It is effective for napkin rashes in highly sensitive tender-skinned babies who are chilly and like warm things. Rashes have pus formation with a foul odor.
- Medorrhinum: Excellent for diaper dermatitis where the skin looks red and shiny with painful rashes in restless and oversensitive babies. The remedy is especially useful for preventing a tendency for recurrence, bringing about a closure to the condition.
- Petroleum: For diaper rashes with raw, sensitive and cracked skin prone to bleeding.
- Silicea: Preferred for the skin types where every little injury suppurates with offensive pus. Dermatitis is accompanied by fever and a creepy shivering over the whole body.
WHAT PRECAUTIONS CAN YOU TAKE TO AID IN TREATING/ PREVENTING A DIAPER RASH
While sometimes diaper rashes are unavoidable, care for them is simple to help your baby stay cheerful and happy at all times.
- Keep your baby dry by changing the diaper frequently, even if it requires you to get up at night.
- Rinse the area well at each change. Use warm water. Pat the skin dry, do not rub.
- Put the diaper on loosely to limit chafing.
- Don’t use wipes with alcohol or fragrance on a rash. They can make it worse.
- If diaper rashes continue to appear, try changing diaper brands. Some super absorbent varieties pull moisture out of the skin, which might be too harsh for your baby.
- Let your child spend a few minutes every day naked to let air flow through the area. If the rash is really bad, let your baby spend a larger chunk of the day without a diaper or wearing very loose undergarments.
- Use an ointment during diaper change that forms a barrier on the skin, like petroleum jelly, lanolin, or white zinc oxide. Homoeopathic ointments of the above-mentioned remedies Calendula, Echinacea, Apis, Graphites and Petroleum are available for topical use as well. They can be used effectively as per your doctor’s advice.
- Introduce solid foods one at a time so you can gauge any sensitivities.
- Don’t wash cloth diapers with detergents that use fragrances. Pass on fabric softener as well. Both can irritate the skin. Washing your baby’s clothes or cloth diapers in a Non-Toxic Baby Laundry Detergent such as Mother Sparsh, Chicco, Himalaya, and the like, can help relieve skin irritation.
- In case of persistent rashes, soak baby [bum] in a warm bath daily.
- Offer more fluids throughout the day so that the urine gets less concentrated. This might mean more diaper changing but ultimately will make the urine less irritating.