A diaper rash is a skin irritation under your baby’s diaper. The rash can be on the abdomen, genitals, and in the folds of the buttocks and thighs. Most babies develop a diaper rash at some time during infancy.
A diaper rash develops when your baby’s skin is irritated. Irritation can be caused by:
Factors that may increase your baby's chance of diaper rash include:
The main symptoms of diaper rash are bumps, redness, and scaly patches on the skin under the diaper. There may also be blister-like spots or sores on the skin. Your baby may also be more fussy and irritable when the diaper is changed.
If the rash is not cared for, then it can become infected. It can become bright red with red bumps and blisters.
Symptoms of an infected rash may include:
Contact your doctor if your child has signs of an infected rash.
Most parents can recognize a diaper rash when they see it. A mild diaper rash doesn’t normally require a visit to the pediatrician.
Diaper rashes usually clear up in 3-4 days with the following treatment:
If the rash is severe, see your child's doctor. The doctor may suggest using a mild hydrocortisone cream to calm the skin if it is irritated. If the rash is yeast-related, then the doctor may recommend a medicated cream. Antibiotic ointments may be used for mild bacterial infections. These creams are available without prescription, but your pediatrician may want to discuss these options before starting treatment.
Severe infections may require oral antibiotics.
To help reduce your child's chance of diaper rash:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
Diaper dermatitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116356/Diaper-dermatitis. Updated December 17, 2015. Accessed March 9, 2016.
Diaper rash. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/diaper-rash.html. Updated July 2013. Accessed March 9, 2016.
Diaper rash. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Diaper-Rash.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed March 9, 2016.
Diaper rash. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/fungal/diaper_rash.html. Updated December 2014. Accessed March 9, 2016.
7/28/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116356/Diaper-dermatitis: Blume-Peytavi U, Hauser M, et al. Prevention of diaper dermatitis in infants—A literature review. Pediatr Dermatol. 2014 Jul(4):413-429.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardKari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.