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The first thing you want to do before treating diaper rash is determine what your babys rash is actually from. (Take it from a mom who had to bring her baby into the ER — twice! — to diagnose a particularly angry tushy.) There are several different kinds of diaper rash, and they each require different treatments, so before you start, take a closer look at whats irritating your babe.
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1: Irritant/Contact Dermatitis (Plain Ol Regular Diaper Rash)
Caused by friction or prolonged exposure to moisture and acidity, this will show up very suddenly as varying degrees of redness around your childs anus and is generally contained within the diaper area. It might be hot to the touch and usually wont appear in the creases of the skin, where wetness cant reach. If its really bad, your childs bottom can start to look chapped. This is easily treatable at home and requires a trip to the drugstore where there are balms galore.
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This is a yeast-like fungal infection known as candida or minilia (which make it sound much more horrific than it is). Thrush shows up as clusters of red dots that are spread across the bum (including between the folds of fat) and might even extend to the thighs outside of the diaper area. Usually its there in combination with a regular diaper rash, but it will look noticeably different. If its really severe, it can look like whiteheads or even small open sores. Often thrush outbreaks start in the childs mouth or even on the mothers nipples, so check those places, too! Definitely get your doctors opinion, and ask her to teach you how to treat this at home (its really only scary until its been professionally diagnosed!).
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If your kiddo is constipated, passing very solid stools can cause painful micro-tears in the skin around the anus. Fortunately, this can be soothed with antibiotic ointment and zinc-oxide and clears up pretty quickly, within a week or two.
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Very rarely, kids will develop allergies to latex or to the dyes used in diaper patterns. These often show up just around the leg band and waistband areas and are usually itchy. Occasionally, children will develop sensitivity to the detergent used by a cloth diaper service. If you suspect an allergy (your childs rash is localized to these areas, and he seems to be scratching at it rather than crying in pain when you touch it), talk with your doctor.
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5: Bacterial Infection
Sometimes serious bacteria can attack your babys sensitive skin. An existing skin irritation (regular diaper rash) can make a cozy breeding ground for infectious bacteria like streptococcus and staphylococcus (Note: Were not talkin your run-of-the-mill strep throat. Strep/staph skin infections are awful and could require antibiotics not a welcome situation for those little kiddoes!). Pus-filled, angry red lesions, raw skin, blistering, and extreme sensitivity to the touch could be indicators of this, and you should call your doctor immediately.
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When to Call the Doctor
There are times when what looks like a diaper rash can actually indicate something more severe. Other, less common irritations, can be caused by Psoriasis, Eczema, or Seborrhoeic Dermatitis and can only be diagnosed by a doctor. If you see pus, dry and peely skin, or anything otherwise creepy, crusty, or strange, get it
Other signs it’s time for the doctor:
• Your child develops a fever in conjunction with the rash
• The rash gets worse, even with treatment
• The rash spreads to other parts of the body
• You see pus or blood
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