By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
Sometimes it seems no matter how many creams, powders, and ointments you dab on your baby’s bottom, diaper rash just has a way of creeping up on you. But between deciphering hungry cries, tired whines, and screaming that means an illness is on its way, it’s not always easy to figure out why your baby is upset. So, how do you know if your baby is in pain from diaper rash?
"The diaper area on a baby is often warm, wet, and full of urine and stool, so it’s no wonder babies get rashes in this area," says Dr. Marnie Baker, a MemorialCare Medical Group pediatrician at Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California. "Signs that your baby is experiencing pain from a diaper rash are not usually subtle, and include crying and squirming with diaper changes, or, for an older infant or toddler, trying to reach in their diaper."
Baker tells Romper in an email interview that physical signs of a diaper rash include general redness, red dots and/or bumps, and sometimes blisters or areas of broken skin, which may appear weepy or even bleed. A baby may also cry when placed in the bath, an experience that he might otherwise enjoy.
"As a mom myself, I wish I could write to you with a magic diaper rash remedy that will instantaneously solve your problem," Baker says in her email.
Because diaper rash means skin has broken down, Baker explains that it will take seven to 10 days for new skin to form, no matter what cream or potion you put on it. She says that because "waiting for the body to heal itself" isn’t exactly a principle babies understand, she forgoes over-the-counter and prescription diaper rash creams for simple ointments, like Vaseline or Aquaphor.
"This will help create a barrier between urine and/or stool and the broken down skin," she adds.
Baker says parents should also give babies a daily bath during the time the rash is healing, and gently pat the rash dry when done. If the rash is not healed within seven to 10 days or there is significant bleeding, pus, or pain, then she recommends seeing your pediatrician for an evaluation.
For the future, it’s important to know that diaper rash can still happen even when you take all of the right steps. Steps that can help keep it at bay include applying a thick layer of ointment that contains zinc oxide at each diaper change and being careful to not put diapers on too tight, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Extra absorbent diapers are also helpful.
As for the blowout diapers and pee aiming in every direction, well, you’re on your own for those duties.