Baby & kids

Diaper rash? 4 tips and tricks from dermatologist Elodie Mendels

04 December 2023

diaper change

As a (new) parent there is one thing that’s impossible to avoid: diapers. And that diaper stage can result in some issues. Exactly, we are talking about diaper rash: a common problem for babies and kids. Naïf’s Eliza visited Dutch dermatologist Elodie Mendels and asked her everything you want to know about diaper rash.

First of all, who is Elodie? Elodie Mendels is a passionate academic children’s dermatologist at Erasmus MC-Sophia Children’s Hospital in Rotterdam. This means she helps kids and their parents or caretakers with the treatment and guidance of different skin conditions. Aside from the work she does at the practice, she also finds it important and a lot of fun to help people with their struggles through other channels by providing helpful tips, tricks and solutions for their skin conditions.

Elodie, what’s the deal with diaper rash?

“Well, first of all it’s good to know what diaper rash is. Every baby bum has to deal with it at some point. Which makes sense: wrapped in a diaper in a moist and warm environment. Because the skin is in contact with poop and pee the skin barrier gets damaged. The result is irritated and sometimes red skin. It can even lead to blisters or sores.”

So how do you prevent diaper rash?

“The most important thing when it comes to diaper rash is to change the diaper in time and often. Make sure you choose a diaper that can really absorb the moisture. Even for the most perfect diaper it’s the case that the longer the skin is in contact with urine and faeces, the more friction and the bigger the chances of a diaper rash. It can really help to let your baby play without a diaper every once in a while.”

“Another way to prevent and take care of diaper rash is by protecting the skin. Preferably you use a greasy cream or ointment with zinc oxide. This way the skin barrier will be well protected by the layer of cream (like a wall) and poop and pee won’t touch the skin directly.”

Do you need to preventative start using a diaper cream then?

“You can, but it’s not necessary. When you notice a little bit of redness you can start applying. With kids that struggle already with dry or sensitive skin, you can do this preventatively. This way you make sure the skin is protected from outside forces. Don’t be shy with the application, a think layer works wonders!”

Which ingredients do you need to look out for when it comes to diaper rash? What do you want and what not?

“The most important ingredient is zinc oxide. Zinc has a really good protecting effect. It also helps with itchiness and against bacteria and fungus. Another benefit: there are no side effects. Make sure the zinc oxide is added to a greasy nurturing cream. In my opinion, an oil is less pleasant for use, but it does work better when the skin is moist or when there are a lot of wounds. Preferably you use a product without perfume.”

“When it comes to baby wipes: rather use wipes without perfume and a lot of ingredients in general. Perfume is added for a nice smell for the person changing the diaper, it does nothing for the skin of the baby. You can use a water wipe or an oil based wipe. Or you can wash the bum with a reusable cotton cloth with water or oil. Sometimes alcohol is added for hygiene reasons, but this can cause skin dryness.”


What is your opinion about ingredients that can cause harm on the long term? For example microplastics? How can we create more awareness around this?

“Some ingredients can pass the skin barrier, like perfume and some preservatives. Frequent use can cause a contact allergy at a later age. For a lot of other ingredients we simply don’t know their long term effects. By choosing a product with as little ingredients as possible and by taking a look at what ingredients are added you can get really far. For manufacturers it’s important to look at the current evidence about ingredients in skin care and their effects on the environment to create a good product.”


Elodie’s tips summed up

1. Choose a diaper that can absorb the moisture well and change it often to prevent the skin from being in touch with urine and faeces for a longer period.

2. Let the skin breathe every now and then by letting your baby play without a diaper.

3. To prevent and take care of diaper rash you can best use a nurturing cream with zinc oxide. Zinc has a protective effect and can help with itching, bacteria and fungus.

4. Preferably use a cream and wipes without added perfume and alcohol and with little other ingredients.

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