Designing and Implementing a Skin Care Protocol for Infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome to Decrease Rates of Diaper Dermatitis

Courtney Glashan, Pamela A. Harris-Haman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) are at an increased risk for diaper dermatitis, which can cause skin breakdown and lead to significant pain and potential infection exposure. Skin care protocols in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) setting seldom specifically address the needs of this at-risk population, leading to inconsistent skin care management. Purpose: The goal was to support a decrease in the rate of diaper dermatitis for infants with NAS by designing and implementing an evidence-based skin care protocol. Methods: A retrospective medical record review was used to examine outcomes of 25 infants preintervention and 8 infants postintervention. The skin care protocol was a bundle of 5 evidence-based interventions: (1) a specific diaper dermatitis assessment tool; (2) frequent diaper changes with superabsorbent diapers; (3) application of petroleum jelly and alcohol-free wipes; (4) infant bathing in pH neutral soap; and (5) application of zinc oxide barrier cream for erythema. Results: There was an overall 80.5% decrease in diaper dermatitis from pre- to postimplementation (P ≤.01) as noted when comparing positive cases of diaper dermatitis with negative cases from pre- to postintervention. Implications for Practice: Expanding the skin care protocol to all neonates in the NICU and nursery could aid in maintaining skin integrity and decreasing diaper dermatitis in the NICU. More research is needed following this study for the data to be generalizable to other NICUs. This study offers key takeaways including using a specific diaper dermatitis assessment tool and consistently using the bundle of interventions. Video Abstract Available at:

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalAdvances in Neonatal Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • NAS
  • diaper dermatitis
  • neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • skin assessment tool
  • skin care interventions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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