Definition of Diaper Rash

Diaper Rash – An irritation of the genitals and buttocks in an infant or young child who wears diapers. Rash may also affect adults who wear adult diapers or other incontinence products.

Most rash begins as a reaction to the chemicals in urine or feces, notably ammonia, that comes into contact with the skin. The skin typically appears chapped and raw. The involved area is painful and may crack and bleed. Diaper rash that lasts longer than three days often reflects an infectionof the skin, commonly fungus (candidiasis).

Untreated, persistent rash may develop macerations that can result in deep ulcerations and cellulitis, requiring medical treatment. Mild to moderate diaper rash is very common in children who are not yet toilet trained, with nearly all children experiencing at least one episode. Diaper rash often accompanies diarrhea. Diaper rash occurs equally among infants who wear cloth diapers and who wear disposable diapers.

Treatment

Home treatment successfully eliminates most diaper rash. Methods include

  • frequent diaper changes
  • cleansing the skin with gentle soap and warm water with each diaper change
  • application of a moisture barrier cream or product with each diaper change

A doctor should evaluate rash that persists longer than a few days without improvement after home treatment measures.

See also DERMATITISFECAL INCONTINENCE; URINARY INCONTINENCE.

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