Diaper rash preventable with proper precautions
Diaper rash or perianal dermatitis is a common condition among young infants. It is a form of skin inflammation characterized by red and tender-looking skin in the diaper region—encompassing the buttocks, thighs and genitals.
A few factors contribute to the development of this condition, chief of which is the presence of high amounts of protease in the faeces of infants. Combined with thinner skin, infrequent nappy changes and frequent use of wet wipes, the result is a compromised epidermis and the formation of diaper rash. Dr Leong Kin Fon, paediatric dermatologist at University Malaya Medical Centre, said: “Many parents and caregivers get distressed when they notice the rawness and red irritation on their child’s skin during diaper change and often feel helpless when their baby cries out in discomfort and pain.”
Protease enzymes are among the main cause of diaper rash in babies as the enzyme activity is age-dependent and is very high in newborns up to the age of 1 year. The prevalence of diaper or nappy rash varies between 4 and 35 percent depending on the study. Leong said the best way to prevent and treat diaper rash is by keeping a baby’s skin dry and changing their wet or dirty diapers as soon as possible. Ideally, the soiled areas should be washed with tap water, pat dry and a layer of barrier cream applied during each diaper change. He cautioned against the constant use of wet wipes, which is popular among parents nowadays. Leong said even if the wipes claim to be hypoallergenic or antibacterial, they all contain preservatives. These preservatives may cause an allergic reaction on the baby’s skin. Wet wipes are no replacement for water and soap.
With regard to barrier creams for diaper rash, Leong said the ideal product should address both the problem of faecal protease enzymes and inflamed skin. For skin which is still intact and normal, common products such as Vaseline gel and zinc oxide cream will suffice as protection. When asked about talcum powder, which is traditionally used among the older generation, Leong said it is sometimes difficult to change the mindset of grandparents and caretakers, so it is fine with the caveat the baby’s skin is undamaged. However, talcum powder is very drying and when rubbed, dry skin tends to chaff and break easily, which again leads to irritation and dermatitis.
Leong was speaking at the launch of a new cream for the prevention of diaper rash in infants. The cream (Diapo-Care®) contains protease enzyme inhibitors, to prevent skin irritation from baby’s faeces, and a form of vitamin E to promote healing of damaged skin. The protease enzyme inhibitor is extracted from potato tubers and has been clinically tested to be an effective treatment for perianal dermatitis. [Eur J Clin Invest 2004;34:303-311] Protease enzyme inhibitor also improved infants’ dermatitis, inflammation, pain and sleep disorders, with no observed adverse effects.Kelvin Tong, country manager of Eurodrug Laboratories (M) Sdn Bhd, said: “Diapo-Care is the first and only diaper care product in the market to contain protease enzyme inhibitors for the effective prevention and treatment of diaper rash as its root cause. Combined with dexpanthenol, this innovative formula is proven to provide a long-lasting protective barrier that maintains optimum moisture levels; allows the skin to recover and prevents diaper rash from recurring.