Diaper Rashes – Causes, Treatment, Home Remedies and Precautions

12 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Diaper Rashes - Causes, Treatment, Home Remedies and Precautions.
Almost every parent has to deal with diaper rashes, especially during the first year of the baby’s life – when parents are also catching up on things and the babies’ skin is so sensitive. Many parents get very upset with diaper rashes and tend to feel that they have been negligent – which is just not the case.

Diaper rashes are more common than you think and come as a part and parcel of childcare. Many reasons can actually result in diaper rashes in the baby. It’s not because you are not taking care of your baby properly – but it can be definitely due to laziness in changing diapers frequently. Simple changes in the diapering routine will actually help prevent diaper rashes most of the time.

In This Article

What Is Diaper Rash?

The most common skin problem in infants is diaper rash. It is a common type of irritated skin (dermatitis) that appears as inflamed patches on your baby’s bump. It is usually caused by moisture in the diaper area, which creates a moist environment that encourages bacterial growth.

Wet or infrequently changed diapers, skin sensitivity, and chafing are all common causes. It usually affects babies, but anyone who wears a diaper on a regular basis can get it. Diaper rash usually goes away with simple home remedies like air drying, more frequent diaper changes, and ointment. However, when it comes to diaper rashes, prevention is the best option.

What Causes Diaper Rashes In Babies?

What causes Diaper rash

It is no rocket science as to why diaper rashes appear! A baby’s skin is super sensitive. Soiled diapers that are left on for too long, or friction between the baby’s sensitive skin can cause redness and soreness on the bums. The skin can become tender, and look reddish with painful blotches, and needless to say, this irritation can cause rashes and make your baby uncomfortable.

Some common reasons for diaper rashes are

  • Soiled or wet or moisture-laden diapers that are left for too long on the baby cause irritation to the baby’s skin resulting in sore and scaly rashes.
  • The introduction of new foods to the baby, which has changed the baby’s pee or poo frequency and composition actually changes the pH levels of the skin and becomes conducive to bacteria growth.
  • Chemical reactions with fragrances, detergents, powders, wipes, or lotions that you might be applying to your baby’s skin.
  • Bacterial or yeast infections are caused due to the warmth and moisture in the diaper due to changes in the skin pH levels, humidity, or leaving a soiled diaper for too long.

Even if you change the diapers after only a few hours, the baby’s bums may still show reddening. This could be due to yeast called Candida albicans (a type of fungus) that results in a red, swollen rash with red dots towards the end. This usually happens if the baby or the breastfeeding mother is on antibiotics fighting some other infection. However, these antibiotics can cause the natural bacteria that fight off candida Albicans to grow weak. Additionally, diarrhea only makes the rashes worse.

Types of Diaper Rashes

Types of diaper rash

Diaper rash may be classified into six categories and treatment differs depending on the type of rash. We’ll go over the symptoms and causes of each one.

1. Diaper Rash Caused By Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Irritating contact dermatitis occurs when the skin is irritated by something contacting it. The most frequent kind of diaper rash. Irritating contact dermatitis in the diaper region can be caused by:

  • Urine, feces, particularly diarrhea
  • The diaper itself, as well as the chemicals required to manufacture it
  • Skin wipes containing chemicals that are used to clean the diaper area
  • Chemicals found in diaper lotions or ointments

Irritant contact dermatitis diaper rash frequently begins as a flat, pink rash in regions where the irritant has come into contact with the skin. Protected areas of skin, such as those tucked deep behind skin folds, frequently remain normal and appear healthy. The longer an irritant is in contact with the skin, the more severe the discomfort and redness become.

2. Diaper Rashes Due to Allergies

A newborn may develop an allergy to a substance that you apply to their skin. This sort of rash might appear immediately after using a new substance, or it can take many weeks. Fragrances, colorings, and other compounds found in baby wipes, creams, ointments, detergents in which the cloth diapers are washed, and chemicals used in the manufacture of disposable diapers can trigger diaper rashes.

Babies with allergic contact dermatitis will develop a red, scaly rash in regions where the allergen comes into contact. The rash can spread to the skin outside of the diaper, including places that did not even come into contact with the allergen. Allergic contact dermatitis might be moderate at first, but it will worsen if the allergen is not removed.

3. Diaper Rash Caused By Yeast (Candida)

Candida albicans is a yeast (fungus) that resides in the intestine. It’s also found in feces. It causes diaper rash because the warm, humid environment inside a diaper encourages yeast growth.

Furthermore, wet skin, such as that in a baby’s diaper area, is more sensitive to bacterial invasion than dry skin. A painful yeast rash can form when yeast remains for an extended period of time against a baby’s wet, susceptible skin.

A yeast diaper rash appears as hundreds of small circular dots that range in color from pale pink to blazing red.

4. Diaper Rash Caused By Bacteria

bacterial diaper rash..

Bacteria can occasionally aggravate diaper rash. Because germs may enter the skin and produce an infection, this is more likely to occur when the skin is already irritated or injured. Staphylococcus aureus, particularly certain antibiotic-resistant strains (MRSA), is frequently to blame. The bacterial diaper rash looks like a red pimple with a white or yellow core. If it pops, pus can drain.

5. Diaper Rash Caused By Strep

Another kind of bacterial diaper rash is Streptococcus pyogenes. S. pyogenes causes strep throat and other issues in older children and adults. In newborns, however, strep can produce a severe diaper rash known as “perianal strep.” Perianal strep manifests itself as an angry, bright red area around the anus.

6. Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease (HFMD)

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFM) is a contagious viral illness that affects young children. Fortunately, it is seldom serious – but newborns and toddlers who have HFM illness frequently develop rashes on their hands, feet, cheeks, and diaper region. The diaper rash caused by HFM illness appears as dozens of pink or red dots.

What Are The Signs of Diaper Rashes?

The following are symptoms and signs of diaper rash:

  • Inflammation of the buttocks, thighs, and genital region.
  • Itchy, sensitive skin in the diaper region.
  • Wounds and dryness in the diaper region
  • During diaper changes, the baby experiences pain, fussiness, and tears.

How Is Diaper Rash Diagnosed?

Diaper rash is often diagnosed based on the location and appearance of the rash during your child’s physical checkup. Furthermore, your child’s health care practitioner may do a skin scraping to help in the diagnosis.

What Are The Treatments To Cure Diaper Rashes In Babies?

Treating diaper rash

When it comes to treating diaper rashes in babies, always remember that less is more. Keeping the baby’s diaper area clean and dry is the most effective treatment for diaper rashes – and giving the baby some diaper-free time 2-3 times every day.

Some other things that may work are:

  1. If your baby already has diaper rashes, you will need to take practical care. The baby’s diaper area should be cleaned with a soft washcloth and some water, your baby will get relief for some time – avoid baby wipes for some time.
  2. Do not pat the skin with talcum before setting up the diaper. Although it may not be perfumed. But it is still a mineral salt mixed with laboratory products. Look for zinc oxide or petrolatum (petroleum jelly) on the ingredients list. Stay away from steroid creams unless specifically prescribed by the doctor.
  3. OTC creams and lotions can be good if they are not chemical-based.  For choosing creams, look up actual reviews from parenting forums.
  4. Petroleum jelly is also used to lessen the friction between the diaper and the skin.
  5. If the baby has candida infection, anti-fungal creams or medicines may be recommended by the doctor. For bacterial infections, antibiotics may be prescribed.
  6. Instead of using talcum powder (made of minerals), you can use corn starch powder. However, you must not use this remedy on yeast irritations. It can actually worsen candida. Furthermore, corn starch will dry out the skin, so use it mildly and only when the condition is severe.
  7. If you are at home leave your baby without a diaper for some time, giving him some free time, so as to let the skin be exposed to air which provides a lot of relief.
  8. Let him /her sleep with bare bottom while he/she has rashes, it makes the baby comfortable and reduces irritation in the skin.
  9. Try to keep them dry at night too. You may need to wake them up to change the diapers – it is just about fine.
  10. Use soft lotion or jelly on the irritated bottom every time you change the diaper
  11. Make sure that the diaper is loose enough so as to allow air to pass. While cleaning baby poop or pee, always wipe from front to back, especially for girls as otherwise, it could lead to urinary tract infections.
  12. Breast milk is not only the perfect and complete food for the baby but can also be the most inexpensive way to treat diaper rashes. Apply a few drops of breast milk on the baby’s red, sore skin and let the area air dry itself before you put on a new diaper.

What Precautions Can Be Taken To Avoid Diaper Rashes

Precaution for diaper rash.

It may not be possible never to see your baby with a diaper rash, but a bit of attention and some precautions can help prevent diaper rashes largely.

Below are tips that would be helpful:

  • A dry bottom is your best bet against a diaper rash. Changing a diaper as soon as it gets soiled is the right thing to do. Clean your baby’s bottoms thoroughly when changing a diaper. Also, never rub the baby’s bottom- always pat it dry. Never secure the diaper too tightly. Let the air circulate
  • Intuitive mothers actually have to deal very less with this issue. Of course, you may be thinking that it is frankly impossible to understand when your baby is letting go of body waste. Everything is spontaneous in this little big world! Check out DBL or Dunstan Baby Language. Priscilla Dunstan is a mother with a keen sense of hearing. She identified common syllables that are used by toddlers to express their basic needs. If you can change the diaper in time, the rashes do not appear. Simple! Read more here.
  • Take note of the feeding pattern for your cues on diaper change. Any food at this age is a new experience for the todddlers’s stomach. Do remember that the eating habits of the breastfeeding mom directly transpire to the baby. If you are drinking too much milk, it can result in gas issues for the kid
  • Do not keep your baby in diapers all the time. The skin needs to breathe as well. Allow free air relaxation for the tiny King or Queen so that the skin does not feel uncomfortable from constant covering!
  • Avoid fancy products to avoid diaper rashes. Even if the gel in a fancy diaper is absorbing the pee, it is still there. The chemicals of these gels also have side effects. These are good only in circumstances where you do not get to change the diapers often (for example, when going on an outing). At home, consider a diaper that is a size larger than the exact fitting.
    This will allow the comfort of air, and help you to take notice immediately of the need for a diaper change
  • Every time you change diapers, pat wipe (not scrub) the skin cleanly. Remnants of poop or pee should not be adhering. Use mild soap occasionally. Also, do not set up the diapers on wet skin. Special soft wipes are available to clean the skin of babies. Use the lint-free and non-alcoholic products
  • Take care that your hands are clean before you begin changing your baby’s diaper. Always wash your hands post changing a diaper as well
  • Let your baby have diaper-free time as much as possible. The more air the baby’s diaper zone gets, the faster the skin will heal. You can give your baby some diaper-free time after your baby has already passed a bowel, so as to avoid a mess
  • Always dress your baby in breathable fabrics and avoid tight-fitting clothes that promote a moist, warm environment- home to most bacteria. Also, avoid using fabric softeners and other chemicals on your baby clothes- make sure they are rinsed well after being washed with soap or detergent

Also, try putting in the diaper slightly loosely so that the skin does not get brushed up and hence prevent chafing. Ideally, diapers should be changed every two to four hours, but if the baby has pooped, the diaper should be changed immediately.

Diaper Rashes With Cloth Diapers

cloth diaper and rashes

A diaper is a diaper after all. Though cloth diapers are better in terms of breathability, they also need to be changed frequently to prevent diaper rashes. You will need to be careful when washing the cloth diapers – use mild detergents and always run an extra rinsing cycle.

Avoid using other chemicals like cloth conditioner or fabric softeners – a baby’s skin is too sensitive and can be easily irritated by any foreign particles. Dry the cloth diapers in the sun to kill any remaining bacteria. More on washing cloth diapers here.

Effective Home Remedies For Treating Diaper Rashes

Some home remedies that can help cure diaper rashes are:

Baking Soda

Baking soda

The healing properties of baking soda can help treat a diaper rash as well. Create a mixture with 4 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Every time you change your baby’s diaper, wash the area with this mixture.

Lightly pat the skin dry with a dry washcloth. You can also mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda in your baby’s bathtub and fill it with warm water. Bathe your baby in this water 3 times a day, for about 10 minutes each time. Pat your baby dry and dress her up

Petroleum Jelly

petroleum jelly

A lot of doctors advise coating the baby’s bottom with a thin layer of petroleum jelly. It will keep the harmful bacteria from pee and poop from coming in contact with the baby’s tender skin.

Coconut Oil

coconut oil

Coconut oil not only has a soothing effect on any kind of rash, but its anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties also make it a great moisturizer and an antiseptic. A tub of warm water can have some coconut oil mixed to give relief to your baby from diaper rashes.



The chemical compound saponin and the high protein content of oatmeal help preserve the skin’s natural barrier that does not let unwanted particles get inside the skin pores. Soak your baby for about 10 minutes in a mixture of a tablespoon of dried oatmeal and with the baby’s bathing water twice a day to heal and prevent diaper rashes.



Vinegar is one of the best ingredients that can balance the skin’s pH levels. If you are using disposable diapers, administer a teaspoon to a cup of water, making a weak solution, and wipe your baby’s bottom with this when changing the diapers. Cloth diapers can be rinsed in a vinegar solution for maximum benefits.

When To See A Doctor For Diaper Rashes?

If you are changing diapers on time, yet there are rashes or signs of irritation on the baby’s skin, you could see a doctor. When the rashes are severe, a good doctor will recommend products like anti-fungal zinc oxide-based ointments, etc. Use these creams only in the minimum amount as, after all, they are chemicals! If your baby is running a fever along with rashes or develops pus, reach out to your pediatrician for treatment.


1. Is Diaper Rash Painful For Babies?

Diaper rashes may be unpleasant and uncomfortable, but they are unlikely to harm your baby as much as you believe. The sole exception is when the rash develops into an infection, which can be excruciating at times.

2. How Long Do Diaper Rashes Last?

Most diaper rashes clear up in three days with proper treatment.

3. Can Too Much Milk Cause Diaper Rash?

If your child has a milk allergy or is lactose intolerant, they may get a diaper rash. Diaper rash might arise because of changes in your baby’s nutrition. Diaper rash is a common symptom of the transition from breast milk to formula or from formula to solid foods.

4. Can I Use Vaseline For Diaper Rash?

Yes, petroleum jelly may be used to both act as a moisture barrier and assist in the treatment of diaper rash.

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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