Baby poo can cause irritation—and not just for the diaper changer. The most common and obvious cause of diaper rash is contact between stool and skin, but there may be other culprits: sensitivity or allergy to soaps or wipes, the type of formula, new solid food, or antibiotics. Teething can also make baby bums rashy, though this is more common on the face, says Issenman. The best piece of rash advice: “Don’t let it get out of hand. Act quickly,” Issenman says. Here’s what to do.
1. On a clean, dry bum (don’t forget to dry inside creases, too), use generous amounts of a topical barrier cream containing zinc oxide, or petroleum jelly to keep moisture and stool away from skin.
2. Rashes need light and air—to treat diaper rash, let your baby go naked for periods of time to help dry out the skin. (Lay out a leak-proof tablecloth for bare-bum playtime after a diaper change.)
3. Switch to unscented baby soap for baths and laundry.
4. See your doctor if the rash isn’t healing after one week, is worsening or oozing, appears in the folds of skin, or if your child has a fever or diarrhea.
If it’s persistent and not responding to topical treatment, your baby’s rash may be caused by yeast. Yeast is actually a form of diaper rash, and it occurs when harmless yeast that already lives on the body begins to multiply in the warm, wet diaper environment.
When it’s a yeast infection
Spot it: The most common sign of a yeast infection: bright red spots (islands) outside the main rash.
Treat it: Yeast doesn’t usually respond to diaper cream, so you’ll need an over-the-counter antifungal cream or ointment. Since light and air are the enemies of yeast, make sure you give your baby plenty of bare-bum time too.
A version of this article appeared in our January 2016 issue, titled “You vs. Poo”, pp. 51-56.