Diaper rash is a skin irritation of the buttocks that is caused by prolonged skin contact with urine or feces. While it is generally associated with babies, diaper rash can also occur in adults who wear incontinence underwear, for example, people with reduced mobility who are in a wheelchair or who are bedridden due to an illness or accident.
Here are a few tips to prevent and relieve diaper rash.
1. Change incontinence underwear as soon as it becomes wet or soiled.
To prevent diaper rash, it is important to limit the amount of time sensitive skin on buttocks is in contact with the irritating substances contained in urine and feces. It is therefore essential to change diapers as soon as possible when they become wet or soiled.
2. Cleanse buttock skin gently
People who get diaper rash often have difficulty tolerating even the most sensitive soaps. In this case, buttocks can be washed with warm water alone or a mix of water and olive oil. Where possible, use a handheld shower to rinse skin thoroughly. Pat gently with a soft towel to dry, being sure to reach under skin folds.
While wet wipes are convenient, it’s best to avoid them as their ingredients often cause skin irritation in people who are prone to diaper rash.
3. Protect skin before putting on another diaper
Before putting on another diaper, it is recommended you apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or zinc ointment to skin. These products stay on the surface of the skin, forming a barrier that reduces contact between the skin and irritants.
If buttock skin is easily irritated, opt for a more concentrated zinc ointment (20% to 40%).
4. Choose the right diaper
It is important to select diapers that are the right size. If the diaper is too big, it may leak. If it is too tight, it will prevent air from circulating, which can lead to skin irritation.
If you use washable diapers, do not put a plastic brief on top of the diaper. Caring for reusable diapers is also important, because detergents and fabric softeners are a common cause of skin irritation. Opt for hypoallergenic, fragrance-free detergent and avoid using fabric softener (sheets or liquid). To reduce soap residue on washable diapers, try putting them through a second rinse cycle.
5. Consult your doctor if the irritation persists or worsens
If, despite your best efforts, the diaper rash persists or worsens, it may be because an infection has developed in addition to the irritation. These types of infection are usually caused by a fungus, and you should consult your doctor in this case, as you may require prescription medication.
Once the rash has cleared up, if you experience another episode, it’s good to know that your pharmacist can re-prescribe the same medication*, provided they are able to confirm that it is the same type of infection. Be sure to ask your pharmacist.
*Valid only in Quebec. Some conditions and fees apply. These activities depend on the present law and regulation. See your pharmacist for details.