diaper rash - baby and teddy bear in diapers

Diaper Rash Causes and Treatment

At least half of the babies between four and 15 months old develop a diaper rash at some point. There are a variety of factors that cause diaper rash. These include skin irritants, yeast, bacterial infections, eczema, allergic dermatitis, and psoriasis.

Read on to learn more about the causes of these rashes. The more you know about what causes the rash, the more you will know about the best treatment you could use.

diaper rash - mom changing baby's diaper

Diaper Rash Causes

There are many skin irritants that can cause a diaper rash. These irritants include creams, baby wipes, and detergents. Prolonged exposure to urine or feces can also irritate the skin. Rubbing due to tight diapers also increases the risk of a rash.

Bacterial and fungal skin infections often worsen the common diaper rash. Antibiotics that treat bacterial infections can trigger a diaper rash. It can also cause fungal infections. Certain antibiotics can cause diarrhea, therefore further irritating the skin.

Interestingly, breastfeeding babies may experience a diaper rash when the mother takes antibiotics.

Changes in a baby’s stool due to adding solid foods to their diet can trigger diaper rash. Breastfed babies can develop a rash if the mother eats certain foods too.

Eczema, atopic dermatitis, or psoriasis can make the skin more sensitive. Therefore, the skin is more prone to diaper rash.

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the diaper rash. Prevention is better than treatment, so let’s start with preventive measures.

diaper rash - wicker basket of white diapers

Diaper Rash Prevention

To prevent diaper rash, keep the baby’s skin clean and dry. Change diapers regularly and more often if they have a rash to avoid too much contact with urine and feces. Wrap diapers so the baby is comfortable, but not too tight to cause friction.

Diaper-free time will benefit the baby because it allows the skin to dry. The best time to let your baby be without a diaper is after changing. To avoid messy moments, place your baby on a towel.

Use a soft cloth or wipe when changing diapers and avoid rubbing the skin. Also, do not use scented wipes or wipes with alcohol.

You should use mild soaps and hypoallergenic, natural, and fragrance-free products to clean the skin. Synthetic fragrances tend to cause more allergic reactions compared to other ingredients.

diaper rash - mom putting cream on baby's bottom

Diaper Rash Treatments

A common diaper rash isn’t too complicated to treat. Even if there is an infection or other skin condition, it can resolve within a few days.

While switching to hypoallergenic, fragrance-free soaps is a preventative measure, it’s also treatment. This is especially helpful when the rash was directly caused by creams, baby wipes, and detergents.

Bacterial and fungal infections can complicate the common rash. The most common bacterial infections that cause skin rashes are strep and staph infections. These microbes love moist and warm parts of the body.

With this rash, the skin appears red and inflamed. However, staph infections tend to cause pus-filled blisters. Doctors must treat strep and staph infections because symptoms may be severe. A baby that looks sick, lethargic, and develops a fever above 100.4 F should see a doctor immediately. Amoxicillin and penicillin often treat these infections.

If antibiotics cause diaper rash, talk to your pediatrician about using probiotic supplements. Taking an antibiotic for infection kills not only bad bacteria but also good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics help restore the imbalance in gut flora.

When to take probiotics is controversial. Some doctors recommend taking probiotics during antibiotic use. Others suggest taking them after using antibiotics. Research tells us probiotics are beneficial for infants managing various digestive complaints like acid reflux and colics.

Finally, if skin conditions cause the rash, you must treat the underlying condition. You may misdiagnose psoriasis as eczema due to the similar nature of the rash. However, in both cases, the rash will affect other areas of the skin, in addition to skin covered by diapers.

Treat eczema with oatmeal baths and mild, hypoallergenic cleansers. Use moisturizers like petroleum jelly after bathing and diaper changes. Medicated creams and ointments are also recommended by doctors.

Napkin psoriasis is specific to infants and the skin lesion develops in the diaper area. You can treat psoriasis with exposure to natural sunlight. Medicated creams with steroids or Vitamin D derivatives also help.


Usually, you can treat the common diaper rash at home. If it doesn’t resolve in a few days, gets worse, or your baby develops an infection, call your doctor. If you suspect your baby has eczema or psoriasis, talk to your doctor as well about treatments.

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