What Causes Diaper Rash?

What Causes Diaper Rash?

If you notice that your baby has developed red and inflamed skin in the diaper area, your baby most probably has “diaper rash.” At some point, almost half of newborns develop this condition. This is one of the most common reasons why parents seek medical care for their newborns. There are many different types of diaper rashes that look similar.

If your baby is experiencing diaper rash, there is no need to worry. Listed below are some of the most common reasons why diaper rashes occur and what you should do to treat it.

1. Irritant diaper rash

The irritant diaper rash or “irritant dermatitis” is one of the most common types of diaper rash. The baby’s diaper area spends a lot of time in contact with irritants like urine and stool. If your baby is experiencing diarrhea or is teething, there is a greater chance of them developing a diaper rash. The irritant diaper rash looks like pink or red patches on the skin in the area that is covered by the diaper.

How to prevent and treat a diaper rash:

The most basic way of preventing irritant diaper rash in a newborn is to limit the contact of urine and stool with your baby's skin. Keeping the following tips in mind will certainly help prevent your baby from getting diaper rash. 

  • Change diapers frequently - If a wet or soiled diaper is left on for too long, it can cause skin chafing. Urine absorbed by the diaper also breaks down to produce irritants that damage a newborn's skin. Digestive enzymes in the stool can also wear away at your baby's skin.

  • Gently clean the skin during changes - When cleaning your baby's skin during diaper changes, choose alcohol- and fragrance-free wipes. A great tip for irritated skin is to cleanse the skin with water and a gentle cleanser. For severe rashes, use a spray bottle to rinse without rubbing and allow the skin to air-dry.

  • Coat your baby’s skin with a thick barrier paste layer - Use a barrier paste with good ingredients like zinc oxide and petrolatum. Fragrance-free products are the best for your baby’s sensitive skin. 

  • Leave breathing room - Loose diapers are less likely to rub against the skin. Make sure that the diaper isn’t too tight, especially during the night.

  • Choose a highly absorbent diaper - Absorbent diapers keep the skin dry. If you plan on using cloth diapers, be aware that they are not as absorbent as disposable brands. If your baby develops a diaper rash, use disposable diapers until the rash heals.

  • Keep the area clean - Daily baths help heal irritated skin by removing irritants, debris, and even bacteria. Remember to put on a thick layer of barrier paste in the diaper area after every bath.

2. Bacteria

Though this is rare, bacterial infection can also cause diaper rashes. Also called impetigo, a bacterial infection can make an existing diaper rash worse. Bright red skin around your baby's anus can be a sign of a bacterial infection and needs to be checked by your baby’s pediatrician. Other symptoms include pimples, yellow crusting, or weeping.

3. Yeast infection

Yeast infection is another fairly common cause of diaper rash. It is caused by the overgrowth of a fungus found in the digestive tract. Yeast rashes can also develop if your baby has taken antibiotics. Shiny bright pink and red patches with sharp edges and pink bumps or pimples are clear signs of a yeast infection. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after changing diapers, and apply a topical antifungal cream prescribed by your pediatrician to heal the infected diaper area.

4. Allergy 

Babies with sensitive skin can have allergic reactions to ingredients in the diapers, wipes, or creams. If your baby is developing a rash soon after exposure to any product, try changing the products or brands for two weeks to see if it helps. Otherwise, consult your baby’s pediatrician. 


Photo by Ignacio Campo on Unsplash

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