Ever found yourself calming a crying baby at 3 a.m. due to a pesky diaper rash? I know I have. Both of my kids have had diaper rash plenty of times. For most of us, it’s hard to know whether to keep applying a good diaper rash cream until the rash disappears, or if something more serious is going on and it’s time to see the pediatrician. Instead of driving yourself nuts googling symptoms (um, guilty again!), call your doctor if your baby has any of these things:
1. The rash doesn’t improve (or it gets worse). If you’ve been using an over-the-counter diaper rash cream on your baby’s bum for a few days and the rash isn’t clearing up, it’s time to call your doctor, says Jonathan Blau, MD, a neonatologist at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City.
2. There are blisters or puss-filled sores. It might be a bacterial infection, which would require an antibiotic, says Christal Forgenie, MD, a pediatrician in private practice in New York City.
3. Your baby develops a bright red rash with red spots at its edges while taking antibiotics. It might be a yeast infection, which needs to be treated with an anti-fungal cream, says Dr. Blau.
4. The rash is very painful. Your baby could have a condition called cellulitis, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is an infection deep under the skin. The rash may also feel warm to the touch and look swollen.
5. The rash is spreading past the diaper area to your baby’s legs, back, or genitals. “It may be a bacterial or viral infection,” says Blau.
6. Your baby has a fever. This is another sign of a bacterial infection. “A temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater always requires a trip to the doctor in infants under age one,” adds Dr. Blau.
7. The rash is very red and in patches across the groin, genitals, and/or abdomen. It might also be raised, rough, or greasy. This could signal eczema, says Dr. Forgenie, which may require a mild steroid cream or hydrocortisone ointment.