Baby with diaper rash

Diaper Rash: Symptoms and Treatment

September 18, 2019
3 min read

Most babies will have diaper rash at least once, even with superabsorbent diaper technology and frequent diaper changes. In most cases, mild diaper rash will clear up in a few days with simple treatment, and your baby will be back to normal.

Find out more about what causes diaper rash, what the symptoms are, and how you can treat this condition as quickly as possible and prevent it from reoccurring.

What's in this article:

What Is Diaper Rash? Symptoms What Causes Diaper Rash? Diaper Rash Treatment and Prevention

What Is Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash typically forms when the sensitive skin around your baby’s diaper area is in contact with urine or poop for too long.

Diaper rash is a common condition. It can make your baby’s skin red, very tender, and flaky. With proper treatment, it will usually clear up within three or four days, but if the rash doesn’t noticeably improve within a couple of days or if it gets worse, call your baby’s healthcare provider for guidance.

Protecting your baby against diaper rash means regularly changing his diapers. Fortunately, you can turn all those diaper into rewards and deals. Download the Pampers Club app to get access to special offers.

Symptoms

Common signs of diaper rash include:

  • Red bumps along with larger reddened areas of the skin around the diaper area or in the folds of your baby’s upper thighs
  • Peeling, flaking, or scaly skin
  • The affected area may feel warm to the touch
  • Your baby seems irritable or fussy

There are different types of diaper rash. If a rash comes from a skin infection caused by yeast or bacteria, for example, then you might see more severe diaper rash signs, such as

  • Blisters or open sores
  • Pus-filled blisters
  • Watery fluid or pus seeping from reddened patches.

What Causes Diaper Rash?

Even with frequent diaper changes, diaper rash can still happen.

Here are some causes of diaper rash and situations in which it might occur:

  • If your baby’s dirty diapers aren’t changed soon enough and your baby’s skin is in contact with poop or urine for prolonged periods.
  • Irritation from a diaper that’s too tight and rubbing against your baby’s skin.
  • If your little one is allergic to ingredients in detergents, soaps, dyes, and baby wipes, or even allergic to certain foods.
  • Introducing new foods to your baby can increase the chance of diaper rash because the content of the stool changes. Adding new foods can also increase the frequency of your baby's poops or cause diarrhea, which can lead to diaper rash. If you’re breastfeeding, new foods you eat could also have an effect on your baby’s poop, too.
  • Your baby’s skin coming into contact with urine can increase the risk of bacterial or fungal skin infections, as urine can change your baby’s normal skin pH levels. Not changing a dirty diaper soon enough leaves a warm, moist environment in the diaper area where bacteria and fungi love to grow.
  • Antibiotics kill bad bacteria, but also good bacteria. If you’re breastfeeding your baby and you have to take antibiotics, or if your baby has to take antibiotics, these medications might kill the bacteria that help prevent too much yeast growing in your baby’s digestive system. This could result in a diaper rash that stems from a yeast infection.

Some of these strategies and treatments are important not only for helping to ward off diaper rash but for the overall care of your little one’s skin.

Baby with diaper rash

Diaper Rash Treatment and Prevention

The steps for treating diaper rash and preventing it are very similar, so if you want to know how to get rid of diaper rash as well as help prevent it, try these remedies:

  • When your baby has a wet or dirty diaper, change it as quickly as possible. This is probably the very best way to clear or prevent diaper rash.
  • Gently clean your baby’s bottom with each diaper change. Either rinse the skin with warm water or use alcohol- and fragrance-free wipes.
  • Pat your baby’s skin dry gently with a clean towel or let it air-dry.
  • Make sure your baby’s diapers fit properly. Diapers that are too tight prevent sufficient airflow and can chafe the skin. You'll also want to avoid tight clothing that rubs against the skin.
  • When you can, let your baby go without a diaper. For example, you could spread out a towel during playtime and keep your baby’s diaper off for a while.
  • Apply a thick layer of barrier diaper rash cream or ointment that contains petroleum jelly or zinc oxide to keep your baby’s delicate skin protected from moisture.
  • If your baby is very prone to diaper rashes, consider using a barrier cream or ointment even when she doesn’t have a diaper rash as a form of prevention.

See our Diaper Rash 101 for an easy overview of the symptoms, causes, and treatments for diaper rash.

What Your Healthcare Provider Might Recommend

If the diaper rash doesn’t clear up or if it worsens, your baby’s healthcare provider might prescribe a special ointment or cream such as

  • a mild steroid or hydrocortisone cream
  • an antifungal cream if your baby’s provider diagnoses a fungal infection
  • oral antibiotics or an antibiotic cream that’s applied directly to your baby’s skin if your baby is diagnosed with a bacterial infection.

Natural Remedies for Diaper Rash

Some natural remedies for diaper rash that have been shown in studies to work for some babies include applying any of the following, for example, on your baby’s diaper rash:

  • Witch hazel
  • Your breast milk
  • Aloe vera
  • Calendula

Consult with your baby’s healthcare provider first if you’re interested in trying a natural remedy.

Keep in mind that some of the top diaper rash creams that Pampers Parents voted for include organic and natural ingredients such as calendula.

FAQs at a Glance

  • Q : What gets rid of diaper rash fast?
  • Q : When should I be worried about diaper rash?
  • Q : Is a bath good for diaper rash?

Even when you’re careful to frequently change your little one’s diapers, it’s likely that she’ll get diaper rash at some point. The good news is that most mild cases clear up within a few days with simple treatment, so your little one can quickly get back to smiles!

See all sources
All sources links

MayoClinic: Diaper Rash – Symptoms and Causes

KidsHealth: Diaper Rash

Healthy Children: Diaper Rash

Mayo Clinic: Diaper Rash – Diagnosis and Treatment

Cleveland Clinic: Diaper Rash, Diaper Dermatitis

Book: Caring for your baby and young child birth to age 5, Sixth Edition Paperback – November 2, 2014 by American Academy of Pediatrics (Author)

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