How to Treat Your Child’s Bad Diaper Rash

how to treat bad diaper rash

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There are so many mysteries of parenting we just don’t think of before we have our own little bundle of joy. I can honestly say I never gave much thought to the topic of bad diaper rash before becoming a mom. But, if there’s one thing I know about parenting, it’s that we always have to learn on the fly. When my little one got her first case of bad diaper rash, I did an obsessive amount of research about the best home remedies.

Bad diaper rash often occurs when diapers aren’t changed frequently enough or a baby has sensitive skin. To treat bad diaper rash, ensure that diapers are changed regularly and experiment with different laundry detergents and soaps on your baby’s skin.

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Obviously, every mom, every home, and every baby are different, so it’s important to remember that there is no single cure-all for every case of bad diaper rash. As my mom always said, “prevention is the best medicine.” So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some many causes and treatments of severe diaper rash.

What Is Bad Diaper Rash?

Before we start thinking about the different causes and treatments of severe diaper rash, it will be helpful to think about what is actually going on down there when your baby’s bum gets uncomfortable. Now, I’m no doctor, but I did take a deep dive into the topic, and here is a bit of what I learned.

What Are the Symptoms of Bad Diaper Rash?

In its essence, a bad diaper rash is a form of dermatitis similar to eczema. It occurs when skin is irritated either by external factors like wetness or internal factors like an allergic reaction. The most common symptom that parent notice is usually a reddening of the skin around the bottom, thighs, or genitals on a baby. This could be pocked with red dots or simply look tender.

Another common symptom of bad diaper rash is a change in the baby’s mood. If your baby seems fine one day and unreasonably cranky the next, keep an eye on the skin in their diaper area. If you see any redness, swelling, or tenderness develops then it could be a sign that your baby is headed for a bad case of diaper rash.

What Causes Diaper Rash?

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Diagnosis if your baby has bad diaper rash is relatively easy. The cause may also be simple too, but you may need to eliminate a few factors before you find the culprit.

Irritation from Diaper Waste

Severe diaper rash could be a secondary symptom of a different issue for your little one. If they are having digestive of bladder problems, increased peeing and pooping could cause excess wetness in their diapers. If it seems they are requiring more frequent changes than normal, then be sure to keep an eye on your baby’s appetite and demeanor.

Abrasions from Diapers

Changing diaper sizes or brands can have a bigger effect on your baby’s bum than you might expect. Observe the skin closely after changing to different diapers as they could rub and cause abrasions where previous diapers did not.

New Soaps or Creams

Babies naturally have more sensitive skin than adults, and they may have a negative reaction when changing to new soaps and other products. Some common culprits here are detergents, bleach, fabric softener, and other heavily scented cleaning products. Also, try to avoid lotions and powders with strong scents if your baby seems to be having a bad reaction.

Yeast and Bacteria

If you initially notice just a few red dots or splotches but they rapidly spread, this could be the sign of a bacterial or yeast infection. Both bacteria and yeast like to grow in warm, damp places, so a diaper is a perfect habitat. Make sure to check closely in any crevices or folds in baby fat and keep the area as dry as possible.

Dietary Changes

Your baby’s dietary needs will change a lot within their first few years. When their diet changes, so too will their stool. Significant changes in bowel movements regularity can easily lead to diaper rash for your baby if you’re not careful. For nursing mothers, also consider avoiding any major dietary changes that could affect your baby’s digestion.

Skin Allergies

Some skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis have a strong genetic component and your baby may be predisposed to having sensitive skin. If you have tried everything you can think of to clear up their bad diaper rash and nothing works, it may be an early sign of skin sensitivity that your baby will carry through life.


While antibiotics can save lives during a severe infection, they can also kill the bacteria that fights off bad diaper rash. If a baby is exposed to antibiotics, it is possible for the drug to cause a chain reaction that can lead to redness. This can happen even through breast milk if a mom is taking antibiotics.

How Can You Prevent Diaper Rash?

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Like most baby illnesses, the best way to treat bad diaper rash is to avoid it altogether. While rashes can seem to creep up out of nowhere, I have learned a few sure-fire ways to help keep them to a minimum.

Keep Diapers Clean and Dry

So, we know it’s a diapers job to be wet and dirty, but don’t let it go for too long. Once you notice that your baby needs a new diaper, try to find a time and place to get them clean and dry as soon as possible.

Cleanse after Each Changing

If your baby is suffering from bad diaper rash, then make sure to wash them with soap and water after every diaper changing. Avoid using heavily scented soaps, powders, or creams after washing. If you’re on the go, then consider using unscented baby wipes or even bring a small squirt bottle and clean towels to give them a quick cleanup.

Easy Does It When Cleaning

Remember that your baby’s skin is extra sensitive when they have diaper rash. Gently pat their bottom dry and don’t scrub too hard, or you could irritate things further.

Keep Diapers Loose and Comfortable

Over tightening diapers can not only lead to chaffing and irritation, but it can also cut off vital airflow inside. Keeping your baby’s bottom dry is critical when avoiding diaper rash, so you’ll want to make sure they have ample circulation around their bum.

Let It All Hang Out

When you’re at home, try to give your baby some quality time without a diaper. Letting their skin have full exposure to the air will promote airflow. Combine diaper-free time with tummy time on an oversized towel to avoid cleanups if an accident should occur.

Try a Mild Ointment

If you notice that your baby is developing bad diaper rash frequently then consider using a mild ointment like petroleum jelly. This will help them develop a thin barrier between skin and irritants within their diaper.

Improve Your Own Hygiene

Always make sure you wash your hands after every diaper changing. This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s truly incredible the things we can forget to do when we’re in “busy mom mode.”

Home Remedies for Diaper Rash

As moms, we all do our best to prevent our little ones from feeling uncomfortable. But, sometimes things are beyond our control, and we need to be prepared with some simple home remedies. In my research, I found some true gems that may help clear up a case of bad diaper rash for your baby.

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

NCL Coconut Oil for BEAUTY

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Coconut oil a great choice for diaper rash because it has both anti-inflammatory and anti-yeast principles. It is relatively shelf-stable, and just a tablespoon spread across the affected area with help sooth rash pain and also bring down swelling.

Vinegar Wash

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Irritation caused by a wet diaper is often caused by an imbalance in pH levels. Since urine has high alkaline levels, it is can easily cause burning of sensitive skin. Mix about a half cup of vinegar in with a bucket of water and rinse your baby’s cloth diapers thoroughly in the mixture. The acidity in the vinegar will balance out the alkaline and set a healthier pH level.

Use Breast Milk

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Breast milk can often counteract the effects of diaper rash. Apply a small amount of breast milk directly to the rash and let it dry. When your baby is completely dry, then apply a fresh diaper.

Change Diapers Often


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We know we’re starting to sound like a broken record with this one, but it’s really that important. The best thing you can do to ensure that your baby does not develop bad diaper rash is to change diapers frequently. It’s easy to let it go and get sidetracked, but you should try to stay on top of it.

Try Cornstarch

baby powder pure cornstarch

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Cornstarch is highly soluble, so it’s perfect for soaking up extra moisture in your baby’s diaper. Give their bottom a thorough cleaning with soap and water and pat them dry. Once they have completely dried, pat a small amount of cornstarch powder onto the rash. The powder will help absorb any excess moisture that develops between changing.



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We’ve already mentioned the power of petroleum jelly, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s a very gentle ointment, so it won’t further irritate the skin; it’s also very effective at building up a layer of protection against moisture. Another thing that’s great about petroleum jelly is the price. A large tub can often be found for just a few dollars, especially if you buy the house brand at your local pharmacy chain.



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Oatmeal is a common choice for a range of skin conditions. The breakfast time staple has compounds that help gently remove grease and oil off the skin which can help remove irritation. Purchase medical grade oatmeal if you can find it and mix a cup of the powder into a bath for your baby. Give them a bath as normal in the mixture up to twice daily to reduce inflammation.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar

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Apple cider vinegar is even more effective at reducing yeast than regular vinegar. Simply mix a tablespoon into your baby’s bathwater and bathe them as normal. Give your child a thorough rinse to remove any lingering aroma and then make sure the baby is completely dry before adding a fresh and clean diaper.



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Chamomile tea is not only soothing for our nerves, but it can also work wonders on skin. Try mixing two cups of chamomile tea with a teaspoon of honey, allow it to cool, and transfer the tea mixture into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture onto the diaper rash up to twice a day and rinse thoroughly for a soothing sensation.


Organic Aloe Vera Gel

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Aloe vera is popular for the inflamed skin associated with sunburns, but it will also work well for diaper rash. Opt for fresh aloe sprigs if you can find them but don’t worry if you have to use bottled aloe. It will also work well to reduce diaper rash.

Plain Organic Yogurt


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Organic yogurt can work wonders for the digestive tract, but it is also effective as a topical treatment. Apply a thin layer of plain, organic yogurt to the rash area after your baby has been washed thoroughly. Place a clean diaper on immediately, but be sure to clean off any dried yogurt when doing your baby’s next diaper change.

Epsom Salt

epsom salt

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Epsom salt is a common choice for eczema and psoriasis patients, and it can also work well for a bad diaper rash. Simply mix a half cup of Epsom Salt in with your baby’s bathwater and bathe them as usual. The high magnesium content in the mix can help bring swelling down and reduce inflammation on your baby’s bottom.

Final Thoughts

Let’s face it, most babies will get a diaper rash at some point. Fortunately, with a bit of prevention and some quality home remedies, any concerned mom can get their baby’s bum cleared up in no time.


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