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A red baby bum can be a diaper rash, fungal infection or just a result of heat and moisture. Learn more about how you can distinguish diaper rashes from fungal infections; and how to treat and prevent red bums and associated wounds.
Heat and humidity created in diapers
Babies need diapers. The wetter and warmer the diaper, the more problems you’ll experience. Diaper rash, fungal infections… You know what we mean. Indeed, with today’s modern diapers and its fantastic super-absorbent features, the problems of diaper rash are much lower than they were a few decades ago, when wadding and dense plastic diapers were used.
Read more about when and how to wean children from diapers and become diaper-free here.
How often do you need to change diapers?
You need to change your baby’s diaper when you notice the baby has pooped. How often babies poo varies a lot, some poo 3-4 times a week and others poo 6-7 times a day.
Read more about baby poo and what is normal or not here.
You also need to change the diaper when it is full of pee. Always in the morning and a few times during the day. If you use cloth diapers, you may need to replace them more often than with modern plastic diapers, as they tend to feel damper sooner.
Clean the bum when changing diapers
If the baby has pooped, you’ll need to wash the bum clean. Especially make sure you clean between the labia of little girls. Rinse with water if necessary and pat dry. Wipes are practical, and very effective at dissolving dirt. They are great at cleaning dirty shoes and leaving cars sparkling clean, but they can be a bit too harsh for a baby’s bum.
Also some babies react to the content of wipes and end up with a red and irritated bum. Try cleaning your baby with only water first and if necessary, use weak soap.
Some babies’ skin can become very dehydrated by water. If this is the case for your baby, then pure oil poured onto a washcloth may work better. Baby oil, olive oil or regular cooking oil works well.
Libero, Pampers or other diaper brands?
Many parents notice that their children react differently to different diaper brands. Some diaper brands have lotion in the diaper, while others do not. If your child gets a red bum from one brand, then try another one. Diaper preferences are individual. Certain diaper brands suit some children more than others.
If your child’s bum begins to turn red, the first thing to do is to have nappy-free time. That means that between diaper changes, your child should have periods where they are not wearing a diaper. Practice this for a few days. Leave the child on a changing bed or on a towel that you can either throw away or wash if the child pees or poos. Do this for as long as you can. Babies usually think it is nice. Warning : boys’ pee stream can travel quite far, so place the baby away from your favorite armchair…
If the skin in the diaper region is angry, red, dry and spotty, it may be diaper rash. At this stage, it is ideal to wash the area gently with oil and aerate. Often, a cortisone cream with an anti-fungal component works wonders. Fungal infections thrive very well on a diaper rash, so a cream with both cortisone and an anti-fungal agent will treat the rash and the fungal infection simultaneously.
Read more about eczema in children here.
Fungal infections on the bum
Fungal infections on young children’s bum look sore, angry, red and spotty in the diaper region, between the buttocks, on the genitals and around or in the folds of the groin. This often occurs at the same time as diaper rash. There are two over-the-counter anti-fungal/cortisone ointments available in pharmacies in Sweden: Cortimyk and Daktakort. They are totally equivalent and contain the weakest type of cortisone which can be used on infants.
If you suspect a fungal infection on your child’s bum and an angry diaper rash, try applying Cortimyk or Daktakort twice daily for some weeks. If you see results, apply the cream until the symptoms subside and then begin to taper down the usage over a week.
You may have to start again after some time, and that is all right.
Read more about cortisone treatment for children here.
Perianal streptococcal infections
Perianal streptococal infections on the bum, usually start around the anus and spreads from there. The symptoms are similar to a nappy rash and fungal infection, but are not so bumpy and can also exude pus.
If you suspect a streptococcal infection, you should visit a medical center. Sampling and antibiotic treatment are needed.
Read more about streptococcal infections in children here.
Ointment for diaper-wearing babies
Ointment is not commonly required for the bum unless the skin is irritated and red. In that case, a protective zinc ointment is recommended. Inotyol, Silo and Bepanthen are three ointments that can be applied in thick layers after a diaper change to protect the skin against irritation from pee and poo. They can be used for certain periods, but are often not needed routinely.
Baby powder, is this required?
Baby powder is not necessary, but as far as we know, also not harmful to the children.
Scabs in babies – this is how you get rid of it.
Potty training – when to stop using diapers and how to become diaper-free.
Cortisone for children – dangerous or not?
Baby poo – what is normal and what is not? Green or slimy poo – what does that mean?
Streptococcus in children – tonsillitis, perianal strep and scarlet fever