5 common genital conditions in babies that may be hidden by diapers

Diapers may hide genital conditions till other symptoms appear. However, a prompt treatment is necessary for a majority of these conditions.

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When you become a parent, your doctor must have told you to check your baby every day in good daylight. And she was not wrong in saying so, as babies often get rashes that may need prompt attention. However, when you do that, don't forget to check for these genital conditions in the baby.

Here are the six most common symptoms of genital conditions in children and how to deal with them

1# Periods in newborns

Blood in the baby's diapers might be really scary, especially if it is your first child. All sorts of things come to your mind when you see the spotting. However, vaginal bleeding in newborns is not uncommon and it is because of the maternal hormones. This is most common during the first week of the baby's life.

What to do now?

  • Confirm that the blood is from the vagina and not in the poop. If it is, you need not worry
  • If it continues or is accompanied by crying, fever, and restlessness, see a doctor. 

2# Thrush

Thrush or candidiasis is an opportunistic infection in the children. It is quite common in infants and often affects the oral cavity, the creases covered by a diaper, and around the anus. 

Typically, the infection is passed back and forth between the mum and the baby because of breastfeeding. In the baby, the infection is first seen in the mouth and later on, a nappy rash appears.It then spreads around the anus and may be seen in the genital folds as well. In the mother, it affects the nipple and can cause pain during breastfeeding. 

What to do now?

  • Both the mother and the baby require treatment by an antifungal medicine.
  • You can continue breastfeeding the baby. If you express milk during this period, feed it to the baby while she is still being treated. Don't freeze it as if you feed this milk to her later, the infection might recur.
  • Wash your hands properly after breastfeeding and changing nappies.
  • The baby might need some relief for the nappy rash.
  • Wash your nursing bras separately during the treatment. 

3# Swelling in the scrotum or empty scrotum

In infants, you may notice an intermittent swelling in the scrotum, especially when he cries. This might be because of a hernia. Sometimes, you may find that the testes are not in the scrotum, and are felt besides the penis. This is quite normal as it might take some time for the testes to descend into the scrotum. They often go up and down in infants. 

And if you feel that the scrotum is swollen constantly or is bigger in size, or just one side is bigger than other, it may be because of many reasons. One of the most common reasons is hydrocoele where the testis swells because of a collection of fluids in its protective covering. 

What to do now?

  • If the scrotum is empty, and the testes do not go above the root of the penis, you can wait till he is 1 year old. Till then, it is normal for this phenomenon to occur. 
  • For everything else, see a doctor promptly. 
  • Even for undescended testes, you should bring it up at the next doctor visit. 

4# Swelling or infection of the head of the penis

In babies, if the foreskin gets retracted, the glans penis, or the head of the penis may swell up. In addition, poor genital hygiene in young children may cause an infection there, causing an inflammation of the glans. The head of the penis becomes sore, may be red and tender to touch. This might be accompanied by fever.

What to do now?

  • See a doctor, the infection needs a treatment
  • Do not retract the foreskin in this condition, it may worsen it
  • After it is sorted, show your child how to clean the area during a bath. If he is not circumcised, he needs to retract the foreskin and wash the area with water and a mild soap. 
  • Care must be taken to wash away all the soap

5# Painful urination/ crying during urination

This is caused because of a urinary tract infection. Girls get them more often than boys because of the short urethra. It is caused by a host of pathogens but is most commonly bacterial. The older children, unclean toilets are a culprit.

In babies, especially the ones who are not toilet trained, the bacteria from the poop may travel via the urethra and cause urinary tract infection. It may often be accompanied by a dragging sensation in the umbilicus, pain during peeing, and fever. 

What to do now?

  • UTIs need treatment, so see a doctor promptly
  • Use gentle wipes to clean the poop as soon as possible in babies
  • If you can, wash the area properly after every soiled diaper

General tips

Mums, as the baby grows up, he is going to change in a lot of ways. In most cases, these conditions disappear as they grow up. That said, always examine your child in daylight or bright light preferably before or after a bath. Pay particular attention towards

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  • rashes
  • swelling and bumps
  • spots and moles, if they are shrinking, growing, or changing colour
  • eyes and mouth for any infection
  • ears for wax
  • nails 
  • genitals for a rash or the issues discussed here

If you have any questions, or if your inner mother raises an alarm, go and see a doctor. 

Also, read Have you heard about Walking Pneumonia? If you are a parent, you should know this...