Diaper Rash in Children - Causes and Preventions - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India
Health Education

Diaper Rash in Children

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 24 Jul 2014 - 13:04.


A diaper is a type of underwear used to receive and hold urine and bowels passed, particularly for an infant, to help the child defecate and urinate discreetly. Diapers are made of disposable cloth or synthetic material which is tied around the infant’s waist. The diaper used in the infant in majority of the cases, causes simple chaffing or wetness, leading to diaper rash. It can also occur as a result of infection from soiled diapers.

Causes for diaper rash:

There are different kinds of a diaper rash In most cases some of the skin covered by the diaper, most commonly the genital area and the folds of the thighs and buttocks will appear red and puffy as a result of chaffing. Changing diapers after long hours is the commonest cause for the wet and soiled diaper to induce chaffing and infection. This prolonged chaffing may lead to contact dermatitis a condition commonly found in infants. This leads to a flat red rash. Some disposable diapers have chemicals and fragrance to keep the collections free from smell and infections. These very chemicals can irritate the tender skin of the infant causing flat red rash.

The root cause for the rash is a combination of several factors. When bacteria from your baby’s stool mix with urine it breaks down the chemicals present in the urine to form ammonia which is the root cause for irritation of the baby’s skin. Even the most expensive and state-of-the art diaper leaves some moisture on a baby’s delicate skin, which is responsible for chaffing. The probability for diaper rash increases if the baby has sensitive skin. Also, diarrhea due to antibiotics leads to rash.

Candida infection due to yeast may cause a different type of diaper rash. This rash has tiny red spots that multiply and join together to form a raised, patchy bright or red rash with distinct borders which is tender and painful. The rash can creep into the folds of the skin over the genitals. Antibiotics cause yeast infection since they reduce the number of normal bacteria responsible to keep the Candida yeast in check.

Seborrheic dermatitis though quite rare, is one of the worst looking diaper rashes. This is characterized by the presence of a big red rash extending from the lower abdomen to the groin and genetalia. It is rough, thick and greasy with raised borders. Overactive oil glands in the skin are the culprit for this condition.

Infantile eczema or atopic dermatitis is also a cause for the diaper rash besides its presence elsewhere in the body.

Diaper rash due to impetigo is a very rare condition seen in infants. When it occurs it is characterized by oozing yellow patches or pus filled pimples.


The best and probably the only way to prevent diaper rash is to change diapers frequently. Preventive barrier creams which act as a barrier from the collections leading to chaffing helps to prevent rashes. These should be applied every time you change the diaper. However, these creams don’t help healing any existing rash.

Another way to prevent diaper rash is to leave the baby diaper-free for as long as you can provided the floor on which the baby rests is clean. This allows the air to keep the diaper area clean.

If the baby has sensitive skin, avoid the commercial diaper wipes which contain chemicals that do more harm than good. Instead keep a thermos full of boiled and lukewarm water and soft paper towels to clean the area while changing diapers.

Keeping the baby’s diaper area as clean as possible will clear mild diaper rash in 3 to 4 days. If the rash still persists and spreads, you can use anti-yeast creams which are available without any doctor’s prescription. However, you should check with your doctors before applying any kind of ointment on the inflamed area.

The best defense against a diaper rash is to keep the baby’s bottom dry. This is what you need to remember.

Simple points to evade diaper rash:

  • Change the diaper as soon as it becomes wet or soiled.
  • Clean your baby’s genital area thoroughly after each bowel movement and allow it to dry. To know about a bowel movement you must watch and check the diaper at frequent intervals.
  • By all means you can apply protective ointments but skip applying talcum powder to prevent the baby from inhaling it to avoid harming the lungs.
  • When your baby starts solid foods, introduce only one new item at a time and wait for some time to introduce the next item to identify if the rash is due to food allergy.
  • Never secure the diaper too tightly or else there is no space for air to find its way in.
  • Ensure that clothing over the diaper should fit loosely for air to enter.
  • Try to avoid disposable diapers as far as possible to prevent any reaction to baby’s skin by the chemicals they contain.
  • Statistical evidence indicates that diaper rash is more common in formula fed babies than those on breast milk, though the precise reason is not clear.
*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.