Summer heat can be hard enough on your baby, but adding a case of diaper rash can make it miserable.
Diaper rash is a common condition characterized by redness and mild scaling on the diaper area. It’s usually caused by leaving a wet diaper on a baby for too long or the introduction of new foods that cause irritating diarrhea. During the summer months, common causes of diaper rash include extra sweating thanks to the heat and diapers wet from the beach or pool.
Besides diaper rash caused by prolonged contact with a wet diaper, yeast infections are also more common in the summer months. Candida can look very similar to classic diaper rash — it’s also a red rash — but standard diaper rash treatments won’t work.
Preventing and treating summer diaper rash
Keeping your baby’s diaper area dry is the best way to prevent diaper rash from developing in the first place. This might mean regular diaper changes in sweaty weather, and letting him or her air out whenever possible. But remember to practice good sun safety! Infants and babies should be dressed in long, lightweight pants and shirts, with a head covering, if they are in direct sunlight. For infants over six months of age, you should use sunscreen on exposed skin.
If a diaper rash develops, here are your best treatment options:
- Keep the area clean with a soft cloth and water. Don’t use anything on your baby’s skin that contains alcohol, and resist the urge to use a lotion or cream that isn’t intended for diaper rash.
- Slather the affected area with a thick layer of diaper rash cream or spray. Look for a product that contains zinc oxide, or even petroleum jelly, and apply it like you’re icing a cake.
- Don’t use very tight diapers that are likely to hold in sweat and moisture, which will only aggravate the condition.
Don’t use talcum powder, cornstarch, or baby powder on a diaper rash. All of these fine powders can be easily inhaled.
Finally, if the rash persists despite treatment, call your pediatrician or make an appointment. This may signal a candida yeast infection, which is typically treated with a prescription medication.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, May 2020
- Diaper rash usually happens when a wet diaper is left on too long.
- During summer months, diaper rashes can be caused by extra sweating from more intense heat.
- Avoid putting tight diapers, anything with alcohol, or baby powder on a diaper rash.