Preventing diaper rash

Diaper rash becomes a mother's main concern the moment her baby is born. It is every mother's nightmare to see her baby's soft skin turning red and itchy and dealing with upset babies is an even more challenging task.

According to Dr Yong Junina Fadzil, a consultant paediatrician and paediatric cardiologist, diaper rash can range from mild (slight redness) to severe that could lead to bacterial infection.

"Mothers should look for symptoms such as very dry skin and frequent scratching if the babies are old enough to scratch," says Dr Yong Junina.

Diaper rash is a common occurrence, she adds. "Many parents do not realise how sensitive a baby's skin can be and more importantly, they do not realise that diaper rash can be prevented."

"All it takes is good hygiene habits to keep the baby's skin clear and dry and to avoid substances that can irritate the skin further."

GETTING TO THE BOTTOM

In order to prevent something, we must first know what causes it. Contrary to popular belief, the rash is not caused by the material - be it cloth or disposable diapers - although some skin may be more sensitive than most.

"Diaper rash is caused by prolonged skin contact with urea. Mothers must change diapers frequently." says the visiting consultant at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre.

If one has a comprehensive routine for facial care, then the same should be applied to baby and more. A baby's delicate skin requires the gentlest of care as it is more easily irritated compared to adult skin.

Find the right fit

FIND THE RIGHT FIT

The first step in prevention is choosing the right diaper. Some babies may be sensitive to certain diapers and this may cause skin irritation.

Parents may also want to look into the absorption capacity as some diapers can absorb urine more efficiently.

Caution must be taken when putting on the diapers. "Parents must ensure that the baby's skin is completely clean and dry before doing so," says Dr Yong Junina. The diaper must also not be too tight to allow the skin to breathe.

In cases where babies still experience diaper rash even with preventive measures, parents must be prepared for it. "It is important for parents to know what their baby likes and distract him or her from the pain," says family life educator Charis Patrick.

Perhaps parents could sing the baby's favourite song to ease his or her discomfort. Reminding mothers that parenting is a two-person job, Patrick suggests that parents take turn to play with their baby.

"The way a mother plays with her baby is different from the father and maybe he can help soothe the baby," she says.

Patrick adds that the close emotional bond between mothers and babies only heightens the distress a mother feels when her baby is uncomfortable.

"As human beings, we all experience empathy for one another and we feel this most strongly with people we love." At a time like this, all a mother needs to hear is an assurance from her husband that everything is going to be fine.

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