Understanding Diaper Rash: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention
Diaper rash woes? Distressed? The nerdy term for diaper rash is diaper dermatitis. It is a distressing condition for both the infant and often red faced mother. Red happens also to be the hue of the rashes on an infant’s diaper area. To many first-time mothers, a case of diaper rash may shake their confidence in their ability to be an adequate mothers and care for the infant and may complicate to server forms of pregnancy blues
What is diaper rash?
The suffix -itis, is conventionally used in medical circles to denote an inflammatory process in a body organ or tissue. Dermatitis refers to the range of inflammatory disease process occurring in the body’s largest organ, the skin. When dermatitis occurs primarily as a consequence of diaper use/habits, the term Diaper dermatitis suffices. However, in some literature, other rashes that may have other primary causes but which are worsened by Diaper use are included in the definition.
For purposes of this discussion, the term -Diaper dermatitis- will be used in reference of the former narrower more specific definition. As such, the focus will be on contact induced dermatitis. Also known as diaper rash. A form of dermatitis which can be managed in part by changing poor diaper practices.
Though, diaper rash is the most prevalent of rashes in infancy, with a majority of children expected to suffer at least one episode by the time they are toilet trained (usually at around age 2); Diaper Dermatitis has been wrongfully labeled as a tell- tale sign of poor parental skills and child neglect. This Explains the blushes and desperation in parents whenever a child suffers from diaper rash.
The public health significance of daiper rash ought be an interesting area of research given the rising incomes globally, and modern lifestyles which appears to favor the convince of disposable diapers (over washable absorbent cotton types of yesterday) some of which might be of questionable quality. Besides, with the challenges of waste disposal in the rapidly urbanizing 21st century, used diaper disposal might be a challenge. I wonder how recyclable disposable diapers are.I digress….
This misunderstanding around this dermatitis has led to ill advised mothers combing through lists of purported remedies with little success. Treatment failure is common because the effective management of Diaper Rash requires the recognition and control of predisposing factors. The use of medical remedies has little chance of success without concomitant control of predisposing factors.
Causes and Pathophysiology of Diaper Rash
- Poor diaper practices such as infrequent changing, poor diaper choice and poor diaper area cleaning practices.
- Zinc deficiency
- Recent antibiotic use
The precise science explaining the aetiology of diaper dermatitis has yet to be fully resolved. Current evidence points towards an interplay of a myriad of factors:
1.Diaper induced friction, prolonged wetness which leads to maceration ( small skin tears due to softening) of the outer waterproof layer of the skin, the stratum corneum.
2.The presence of microorganisms be they be commensual microorganisms or microorganisms introduced by feces.
3.The other important factor is presence of fecal enzymes ( lipases and proteases) which participate in the breakdown of urine and feces leading to changes in the ph of skin, an important protective factor, which is an important step in the development of diaper rash.
The key event in developing diaper dermatitis appears to be the weakening of the skin’s integral barrier by the interplay of predisposing factors mentioned above. Increased hydration of the skin then follows due to the breach in skin defenses leading to inflammation as te immune system responds to the breach of the skins role as a protective barrier to the entry of disease causing microorganisms.
- How to recognize Diaper rash: The Signs and symptoms
- Simple ways of preventing Diaper Rash