Diarrhea and diaper rash go hand in hand for many babies. This is because the loose bowel movements irritate the baby's sensitive skin, sometimes causing a red rash on the baby's buttocks or directly around the baby's anus. These rashes are not generally serious and will go away as soon as the diarrhea has stopped. Certain ointments and treatments may help to relieve some of the pain and irritation of the diaper rash while the baby is experiencing diarrhea.
Babies get diarrhea and diaper rash for a number of reasons, including the introduction of new foods, infection, illness, and medicine. Many pediatricians recommend that a child who has been experiencing loose or frequent bowel movements have his diaper changed often, at least every two hours. When the child has an episode of diarrhea, he will need to have his diaper changed as quickly as possible. Quick removal of the irritant can prevent a diaper rash from occurring or keep it from getting worse.
When a baby has diarrhea and diaper rash, it may be helpful for a parent to gently wash the baby's bottom with warm water instead of using wipes. Baby wipes sometimes have ingredients in them that may irritate the skin and make the rash worse. It also might be helpful, if a bit messy, to let the baby go without a diaper for a while. The lack of covering allows the baby's bottom skin time to dry out instead of stewing in the excess moisture trapped by the diaper. It also aids in healing by keeping the diaper from rubbing on the rash.
Using certain ointments on a diaper rash can help it heal and also relieve the pain and irritation that comes with the rash. Creams that are specifically made for diaper rashes can be helpful. Two types of creams, petroleum ointment and white zinc oxide, are most common for use on babies' sensitive skin. Diarrhea and diaper rash that are particularly bad may require a stronger cream prescribed by a doctor.
Diarrhea can quickly cause dehydration in children, so many doctors recommend that parents give their children plenty of clear liquids while they are experiencing loose bowel movements to keep them hydrated. Rashes that occur with diarrhea usually disappear after the diarrhea has stopped, but sometimes the rash persists. If this happens, the parent should make an appointment to see the child's pediatrician. Lingering diarrhea also may need to be treated by a physician.