Diaper rash - Diagnosis and treatment (2023)

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Treatment

The best treatment for diaper rash is to keep your baby's skin as clean and dry as possible. If the rash doesn't go away with home treatment, your health care provider might suggest:

  • A mild (0.5% to 1%) hydrocortisone (steroid) cream twice a day for 3 to 5 days
  • An antifungal cream, if your baby has a fungal infection
  • Antibiotic medicine taken by mouth, if your baby has a bacterial infection

A diaper rash might take several days to improve, depending on how severe it is. A rash may come back again and again. If a rash persists even with prescription products, your health care provider may recommend that your baby see a specialist in skin conditions (dermatologist).

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Lifestyle and home remedies

Generally, a diaper rash can be treated successfully at home with these practices:

  • Keep the diaper area clean and dry. The best way to keep your baby's diaper area clean and dry is by changing diapers promptly after they are wet or soiled. Until the rash is better, this may mean getting up during the night to change the diaper. Try using disposable diapers that contain an absorbent gel. They draw wetness away from the skin.
  • Rinse your baby's bottom with warm water as part of each diaper change. You can use a sink, tub or water bottle for this purpose. Moist washcloths, cotton balls and baby wipes can aid in cleaning the skin. Be gentle. Use wipes that don't contain alcohol or fragrance. Or use a mild soap or a gentle nonsoap cleanser.
  • Gently pat the skin dry with a clean towel or let it air dry. Don't scrub your baby's bottom. Don't use talcum powder.
  • Apply cream, paste or ointment. After you've gently cleaned and dried the skin, apply a cream, paste or ointment. If the product you applied at the previous diaper change is clean, leave it in place and add another layer on top of it. If you do want to remove it, try using mineral oil on a cotton ball.

    Products with a high percentage of zinc oxide or petroleum jelly work well to protect the skin from moisture. Various diaper rash medications are available without a prescription. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist for specific recommendations. Some popular products include A + D, Balmex, Desitin, Triple Paste and Lotrimin (for yeast infections).

    Zinc oxide is the active ingredient in many diaper rash products. Such products are usually applied to the rash throughout the day to soothe and protect babies' skin. It doesn't take much – a thin covering will do. The product can be applied over medicated creams, such as an antifungal or a steroid, when needed. You could also apply petroleum jelly on top, which helps keep the diaper from sticking to the paste, ointment or cream.

    Ointments, pastes or creams may be less irritating than lotions. But ointments and pastes create a barrier over the skin and don't allow it to receive air. Creams dry on the skin and allow air through.

    As a general rule, stick with products designed for babies. Avoid items containing baking soda, boric acid, camphor, phenol, benzocaine, diphenhydramine or salicylates. These ingredients can be toxic for babies.

  • Increase airflow. To aid the healing of diaper rash, do what you can to increase air exposure to the diaper region. These tips may help:
    • Let your baby go without a diaper and ointment for short periods of time, such as during naps.
    • Take a break from plastic or tightfitting diaper covers.
    • Use diapers that are larger than usual until the rash goes away.
  • Bathe your baby daily. Until the rash clears up, give your baby a bath each day. Use warm water with mild, fragrance-free soap or a gentle nonsoap cleanser.
  • Stop using products that seem to trigger your baby's rash. Try a different brand of baby wipe, disposable diaper, laundry soap or whatever other product you suspect.

Alternative medicine

The following alternative treatments have worked for some people:

(Video) Diaper Rash -- Pediatrician Tips to Prevent & Treat Common Diaper Rashes

  • Witch hazel (winter bloom), a flowering plant. A study showed that applying an ointment made with witch hazel to diaper rash helped. The study included 309 children.
  • Human breast milk. Results are mixed on whether human breast milk applied to diaper rash is better than other treatments. One study showed that applying breast milk to diaper rash is an effective and safe treatment. Infants with diaper rash were treated with either 1% hydrocortisone ointment or breast milk. The study included 141 infants. Treatment with breast milk was as effective as the ointment alone.

    Another study compared human breast milk with a cream made from zinc oxide and cod liver oil. Newborns with diaper rash were treated with the cream or the breast milk. The study included 63 babies. Treatment with the cream was more effective.

  • Shampoo clay (bentonite). A study showed that shampoo clay was effective in healing diaper rash and that it worked faster than calendula. The study included 60 infants.
  • Other substances. Other natural remedies have been tried, including aloe vera, calendula, bee pollen, beeswax and cod liver oil. Further study is needed to prove their effectiveness for treating diaper rash. Some of these substances may promote bacterial growth.

Preparing for your appointment

Generally, diaper rash can be treated successfully at home. Make an appointment with your baby's health care provider if the rash gets worse despite several days of home treatment, is severe or occurs along with a fever.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

  • List your baby's signs and symptoms, and for how long your baby has had them.
  • List key information about your baby's medical conditions and food intake. For example, has your baby been treated for any illness or given any medications recently? Has the baby's diet changed? If your baby is breastfed also note any medications that might reach the baby through breast milk. Also note changes in the mother's diet, such as an increase in tomato-based foods.
  • List all products that come into contact with your baby's skin. Your baby's health care provider will want to know what brand of wipes, diapers, laundry detergent, soaps, lotions, powders and oils you use for your baby. If you suspect that one or more products may be causing your baby's diaper rash, you may wish to bring them to the appointment so your health care provider can read the label.
  • List questions to ask your health care provider. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your health care provider.

Below are some basic questions to ask your health care provider about diaper rash.

  • What is the most likely cause of my baby's rash?
  • What are other possible causes?
  • What can I do to help my baby's skin heal?
  • What diaper ointments, pastes, creams or lotions would you recommend for my baby?
  • When should I use an ointment or paste instead of a cream or lotion?
  • Do you suggest any other treatments?
  • What products or ingredients should I avoid using with my baby?
  • Should I avoid exposing my baby to certain foods, either through breast milk or through my baby's diet?
  • How soon do you expect my baby's symptoms to improve?
  • What can I do to prevent this condition from recurring?
  • Is the rash a sign of some other internal problem?

What to expect from your doctor

Your health care provider is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. Your health care provider may ask:

  • When did you first notice your baby's signs and symptoms?
  • What type of diaper does your baby typically wear?
  • How often do you or your baby's child care provider change your baby's diaper?
  • What types of soap and wipes do you use to clean your baby?
  • Do you apply any skin care products to your baby, such as lotions, powders, creams and oils?
  • Is the baby breastfed? If so, is the mother taking antibiotics? Are there any changes to the mother's own diet?
  • Have you introduced your baby to solid foods?
  • What treatments have you tried so far for your baby's rash? Has anything helped?
  • Has your baby recently had any other medical conditions, including any illness that caused diarrhea?
  • Has your baby recently taken any new medications?

By Mayo Clinic Staff

July 01, 2022

Print

  1. AskMayoExpert. Diaper dermatitis (child). Mayo Clinic; 2022.
  2. Common diaper rashes & treatments. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing.aspx. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  3. Schmitt BD. Diaper rash. In: Pediatric Telephone Protocols: Office Version. 17th ed. American Academy of Pediatrics; 2021.
  4. Kelly AP, et al., eds. Disorders of hypopigmentation. In: Taylor and Kelly's Dermatology for Skin of Color. 2nd ed. McGraw Hill; 2016. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  5. Stacey SK, et al. Topical corticosteroids: Choice and application. American Family Physician. 2021;103:337.
  6. Borkowski S. Diaper rash care and management. Pediatric Nursing. 2004;30:467.
  7. Kliegman RM, et al. Eczematous disorders. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  8. James WD, et al. Eczema, atopic dermatitis, and noninfectious immunodeficiency disorders. In: Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 13th ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  9. Diaper rash. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/comparative-effectiveness/condition.aspx?condition=Diaper+rash. Accessed March 14, 2022.
  10. Sharifi-Heris Z, et al. Comparison the effects of topical application of olive and calendula ointments on children's diaper dermatitis: A triple-blind randomized clinical trial. Dermatologic Therapy. 2018; doi:10.1111/dth.12731.
  11. Diapers: Disposable or cloth. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing.aspx. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  12. Witch hazel. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=227. Accessed March 14, 2022.
  13. Wolff HH, et al. Hamamelis in children with skin disorders and skin injuries: Results of an observational study. 2006; doi:10.1007/s00431-006-0363-1.
  14. Gozen D, et al. Diaper dermatitis care of newborns: Human breast milk or barrier cream. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 2014; doi:10.1111/jocn.12047.
  15. Klunk C, et al. An update on diaper dermatitis. Clinics in Dermatology. 2014; doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2014.02.003.
  16. Why is my baby always getting diaper rashes. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/ask-the-pediatrician/Pages/Why-is-my-baby-always-getting-diaper-rashes.aspx. Accessed March 14, 2022.
  17. Sokumbi, O. (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. March 31, 2022.

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Diaper rash

FAQs

How is diaper rash diagnosed? ›

Signs and symptoms of diaper rash include:
  1. Inflamed skin in the diaper area — buttocks, thighs and genitals.
  2. Itchy, tender skin in the diaper area.
  3. Sores in the diaper area.
  4. Discomfort, fussiness or crying, especially during diaper changes.
1 Jul 2022

How do you treat severe diaper rash? ›

If the rash is severe, use a squirt bottle of water to clean the area, as doing so is gentler to the skin. Next, allow the area to air dry. Let your child go diaper-free as long as possible to let the skin dry and heal. Apply a zinc oxide diaper cream.

What type of skin disorder is diaper rash? ›

Irritant dermatitis — Irritant dermatitis is the medical term for red and inflamed skin that is caused by any irritant (usually urine or feces with diaper rash). Irritant dermatitis is the most common cause of diaper rash.

What bacteria causes diaper rash? ›

Bacteria (staph and strep) and yeast/fungal (Candida) are common causes of diaper rash. Generally, both of these types of infections tend to result from a disruption of skin integrity and overwhelming the natural defense mechanisms of skin in this diaper region.

What antifungal cream is best for diaper rash? ›

If the pediatrician finds that baby has yeast diaper rash, they'll likely recommend an antifungal cream, such as nystatin or clotrimazole, Posner says. Nystatin is available by prescription only, and clotrimazole is available both over-the-counter and by prescription.

What are different types of diaper rash? ›

Types of diaper rash
  • Irritant contact dermatitis diaper rash. When skin becomes irritated by something touching it, the result is irritant contact dermatitis. ...
  • Allergic contact dermatitis. ...
  • Yeast (Candida) diaper rash. ...
  • Bacterial diaper rash. ...
  • Strep diaper rash. ...
  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease.
21 Apr 2022

Is a bath good for diaper rash? ›

Baking soda baths are also a good trick to tackle a stubborn diaper rash. For those babies still using an infant tub, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to warm bath water. Soak baby's bottom for 5-10 minutes once or twice a day.

What's the best home remedy for diaper rash? ›

Baking soda: The highly alkaline salts in baking soda help neutralize the acidity and bacteria caused by diaper rash. Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with lukewarm water, and apply to your baby's bottom with a soft cloth for instant relief.

How long do diaper rashes last? ›

A diaper rash can heal within 2 to 3 days. There are several things you can do to treat it. Change the diaper right away as soon as your baby pees or poops. You may also want to change the diaper once during the night.

How do you treat a rash on a baby's private area? ›

Diaper Rash Treatments
  1. Cream or ointment with zinc oxide or petrolatum (petroleum jelly). Smooth it onto your baby's clean, dry bottom before putting on a clean diaper.
  2. Baby powder. ...
  3. Antifungal cream, if your baby has a fungal infection.
  4. Topical or oral antibiotics, if your baby has a bacterial infection.
29 Jul 2020

How do you stop diaper rash overnight? ›

Protecting Against Diaper Rash Overnight
  1. Clean and dry your baby's skin before bed.
  2. Apply a layer of DESITIN® Maximum Strength Original Paste onto your baby's bottom.
  3. Use an overnight diaper that fits your baby and isn't too tight.
  4. Repeat nightly to prevent diaper rash.

How do I know if my diaper rash is bacterial? ›

Bacterial dermatitis

The most common culprits are group A Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. With strep, the rash may be bright red and focused around the anus, though it can spread to the genitals. You may even notice blood in your baby's poop. With staph, you might see pus-filled bumps with a red base.

What is the medical term for diaper rash? ›

Irritant dermatitis — Irritant dermatitis is the medical term for red and inflamed skin that is caused by any irritant (usually urine or feces with diaper rash). Irritant dermatitis is the most common cause of diaper rash.

Is diaper rash a yeast infection? ›

A yeast diaper rash is a yeast infection in the diaper area. The strain of yeast that's responsible for diaper rash is called Candida. This fungus grows best in warm, moist places—such as on the skin inside a wet or soiled diaper (babies can also get yeast rashes in the folds of their necks and under their arms).

What is diaper rash cream? ›

Diaper Rash Cream. These creams prevent diaper rashes using the barrier method. They form a barrier on the skin that keeps urine and poop from touching and damaging it. Most diaper creams are a paste or cream containing zinc oxide. This substance forms a waterproof layer on the skin.

What can cause severe diaper rash? ›

Diaper rash can be caused by any of the following:
  • Too much moisture.
  • Chafing or rubbing.
  • When urine or stool touch the skin for long periods of time.
  • Yeast infection.
  • Bacterial infection.
  • Reaction to diaper material.
  • Reaction to food.
12 Aug 2019

What gets rid of a rash overnight? ›

Hydrocortisone cream (1%) is available without a prescription and may soothe many rashes. Stronger cortisone creams are available with a prescription. If you have eczema, apply moisturizers over your skin. Try oatmeal bath products, available at drugstores, to relieve symptoms of eczema or psoriasis.

Why do diaper rashes happen? ›

Usually, diaper rash is the result of an irritation, infection, or allergy. Irritation. A baby's skin can get irritated when a diaper is left on for too long and poop (or the diaper itself) rubs against the skin repeatedly.

How do I know if my diaper rash is fungal? ›

Symptoms of a yeast diaper rash include:
  1. Deep red or purple raised patch of skin.
  2. Bumps or tiny fluid-filled pimples.
  3. Rash that appears shiny.
  4. Cracked or very dry skin.
  5. Itchiness, mild pain and discomfort.
21 Jan 2022

Can I use Vaseline for diaper rash? ›

Yes, you can use petroleum jelly to create a moisture barrier and help treat diaper rash in a pinch.

Can clotrimazole treat diaper rash? ›

If candidal infection is suspected, topical ointments or creams, such as nystatin, clotrimazole, miconazole, or ketoconazole can be applied to the rash with every diaper change.

How do you know if a diaper rash is severe? ›

Symptoms of severe diaper rash
  1. Your baby's skin is red, raw, broken or bleeding.
  2. Your baby has a rash with blisters, pimples (which may drain pus), sores, boils or other red bumps.
  3. The rash covers a large area. ...
  4. The rash is painful to the touch.
  5. Your baby seems sick, unhappy or unable to sleep.

Can a diaper rash spread? ›

In bad cases, the rash can cause pimples, blisters, or other sores on your baby's diaper area. If the rash gets infected, it may become bright red and the skin may get swollen. Small red patches or spots may spread beyond the main part of the rash, even outside the diaper area.

What causes acidic diaper rash? ›

Acidic diaper rashes arise when your baby's bowel movements are high in pH levels, which can be caused by a number of dietary inputs. Unlike most other types of diaper rashes, acid diaper rash symptoms develop quickly and are easily recognizable.

Is baby powder good for diaper rash? ›

Do not use baby powder while your baby has a rash. The powder can build up in the skin folds and hold moisture. This lets bacteria grow. Protect your baby's skin with A+D Ointment, Desitin, or another diaper cream.

Can I put baking soda directly on diaper rash? ›

Talk with your doctor about what type of product would be better for your child's rash.As a general rule, stick with products designed for babies. Avoid items containing baking soda, boric acid, camphor, phenol, benzocaine, diphenhydramine, or salicylates. These ingredients can be toxic for babies.

Should you use diaper rash cream every time? ›

Using rash cream with every diaper change can help prevent diaper rash from happening in the first place. A lot of parents opt to use a rash cream for babies every time as a preventative measure, especially if their baby's skin is prone to irritation and gets rashes often.

When should you go to the doctor for a diaper rash? ›

Talk with your baby's doctor if: The rash does not look like it's going away or gets worse two to three days after starting treatment. The rash includes blisters or pus-filled sores. Your baby is taking an antibiotic and has a bright red rash with red spots at its edges.

How do I know if my diaper rash is bacterial? ›

Bacterial dermatitis

The most common culprits are group A Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. With strep, the rash may be bright red and focused around the anus, though it can spread to the genitals. You may even notice blood in your baby's poop. With staph, you might see pus-filled bumps with a red base.

When should I be concerned about diaper rash? ›

Symptoms of severe diaper rash

Your baby's skin is red, raw, broken or bleeding. Your baby has a rash with blisters, pimples (which may drain pus), sores, boils or other red bumps. The rash covers a large area. It may have a bright red border or be worse in the creases and folds.

How long is too long for diaper rash? ›

Call your baby's health care provider if: The rash is very painful, does not go away or get better in 3 days, or gets worse.

How long does it take diaper rash to heal? ›

Diaper rash usually goes away within 2 to 3 days with home care, although it can last longer.

How do I know if my diaper rash is fungal? ›

Symptoms of a yeast diaper rash include:
  1. Deep red or purple raised patch of skin.
  2. Bumps or tiny fluid-filled pimples.
  3. Rash that appears shiny.
  4. Cracked or very dry skin.
  5. Itchiness, mild pain and discomfort.
21 Jan 2022

What gets rid of a rash overnight? ›

Hydrocortisone cream (1%) is available without a prescription and may soothe many rashes. Stronger cortisone creams are available with a prescription. If you have eczema, apply moisturizers over your skin. Try oatmeal bath products, available at drugstores, to relieve symptoms of eczema or psoriasis.

What are different types of diaper rash? ›

Types of diaper rash
  • Irritant contact dermatitis diaper rash. When skin becomes irritated by something touching it, the result is irritant contact dermatitis. ...
  • Allergic contact dermatitis. ...
  • Yeast (Candida) diaper rash. ...
  • Bacterial diaper rash. ...
  • Strep diaper rash. ...
  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease.
21 Apr 2022

Are baths good for diaper rash? ›

Bathing daily.

Until the rash clears up, give your baby a bath each day. Use warm water with mild, fragrance-free soap.

What causes acidic diaper rash? ›

Acidic diaper rashes arise when your baby's bowel movements are high in pH levels, which can be caused by a number of dietary inputs. Unlike most other types of diaper rashes, acid diaper rash symptoms develop quickly and are easily recognizable.

Does Vaseline help diaper rash? ›

The bottom line. Yes, you can use petroleum jelly to create a moisture barrier and help treat diaper rash in a pinch.

What antifungal cream is best for diaper rash? ›

If the pediatrician finds that baby has yeast diaper rash, they'll likely recommend an antifungal cream, such as nystatin or clotrimazole, Posner says. Nystatin is available by prescription only, and clotrimazole is available both over-the-counter and by prescription.

What does a Candida rash look like? ›

Superficial candidal skin infections appear as a red flat rash with sharp, scalloped edges. Smaller patches of similar-appearing rash, known as "satellite lesions" or "satellite pustules," are usually nearby. These rashes may be hot, itchy, or painful. Intertrigo appears as softened red skin in body fold areas.

How long does fungal diaper rash last? ›

How long will it take to recover? Most diaper rashes should improve after two to three days of treatment. However, yeast infections can take several weeks to heal since the yeast is a living organism that needs to be killed. You'll know your baby has recovered once the rash has disappeared and the skin is healed.

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