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How to Prevent and Treat Diaper Rash

Posted by Lauren Petrullo on
baby in swimming pool

As parents, we understand that caring for a baby's delicate skin can be challenging, especially when it comes to diaper rash. But fear not, we're here to guide you through this common issue that affects almost every baby at some point, with practical advice on treatment and prevention.

Get ready to become a diaper rash expert!

What is a Diaper Rash?

Ah, the joys of parenthood. Changing diapers and adoring your little one all day long- wait a minute, what's that red, irritated splotch on their cute little tushie? Don't fret, my fellow sleep-deprived parent. That, my friends, is diaper dermatitis- more commonly known as a diaper rash. Though it's a common occurrence, it's still a pesky little rash that can cause discomfort for your little one. 

In most cases, diaper rash is caused by wetness, friction, and irritation from urine, stool, or even the materials used in diapers. Severe diaper rash may result in open sores and require medical treatment.

But don't worry – with proper care and attention, most diaper rashes can be treated and prevented, keeping your baby comfortable and happy.

Causes Behind Diaper Rash

Many of us are all too familiar with the red marks and discomfort that come along with this pesky problem, but what exactly are the root causes? Is there anything we can do to help keep our little ones free from any rashes? Let’s take a look at some of the most frequent causes behind diaper rash so you can have better peace of mind when caring for your baby!

Prolonged exposure to urine and feces

When a baby's sensitive skin remains in contact with wet or soiled diapers for an extended period, it can become irritated and develop diaper rash.

Friction and chafing

The rubbing of diapers against the baby's delicate skin can cause friction and chafing, leading to irritation and rash.


A warm and moist environment, such as the diaper area, can create favorable conditions for bacteria, yeast, and fungi to grow, potentially causing diaper rash.

Sensitive skin

Some babies have more sensitive skin than others, making them more prone to diaper rash and other skin irritations.

Allergies or irritants

Babies may develop diaper rash due to an allergic reaction or sensitivity to certain substances, such as chemicals in disposable diapers, fragrances in baby wipes, or ingredients in creams and ointments.


Fungal infections (such as Candida) or bacterial infections (like impetigo) can cause diaper rash. These types of rashes usually require medical treatment.

Diet changes

Changes in a baby's diet or a breastfeeding mother's diet can sometimes alter the composition of the baby's stool, potentially leading to diaper rash.

Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are reusable and more cost-effective in the long run. They can be more prone to causing diaper rash because of the ammonia from urine, acids in stool, and soap used to wash them. However, it's essential to remember that proper care and maintenance of cloth diapers can help minimize the risk of diaper rash.


Teething can affect diaper rash as well, due to the extra saliva babies produce when teething, which can be quite acidic and irritate the skin, causing a rash. So, it's crucial to keep the diaper area clean and dry and change diapers regularly during the teething process.

Types of Diaper Rash

There are several types of diaper rash, including irritants, yeast infection, bacterial, allergy, and some rare ones. Here are the main types of diaper rash:

Irritant Diaper Dermatitis

This is the most common type of diaper rash, caused by prolonged exposure to urine, feces, and moisture in the diaper area. The skin becomes red, irritated, and sometimes scaly, usually affecting the buttocks, genitals, and upper thighs.

Yeast Infection (Candida)

A yeast infection diaper rash is caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus, which thrives in warm, moist environments like the diaper area. This type of rash (candida diaper rash) appears as bright red, raised patches with defined borders, often surrounded by smaller red dots called "satellite lesions."

Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections, such as impetigo or cellulitis, can cause bacterial diaper rash. Impetigo presents as small blisters or sores filled with pus, while cellulitis appears as a swollen, red area that may feel warm to the touch. Both require medical treatment with antibiotics.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

This type of diaper rash is caused by an allergic reaction to a substance in contact with the baby's skin, such as chemicals in disposable diapers, fragrances in baby wipes, or ingredients in creams and ointments. The rash may appear as red, itchy, and scaly, and may spread beyond the diaper area.

Seborrheic Dermatitis (Cradle Cap)

Seborrheic dermatitis can also affect the diaper area, presenting as a greasy, yellowish rash with scales or crusts. It is not caused by poor hygiene and may be related to the overproduction of sebum (oil) in the skin.


This is a type of rash that occurs when skin folds rub together and trap moisture, causing irritation and redness. In the diaper area, it typically affects the skin creases around the thighs, groin, and buttocks.

Symptoms to Look Out For

Symptoms of diaper rashes can range from mild to severe. They usually begin with your baby scratching when you take off their diaper, and the rash generally doesn't spread beyond the diaper's edges. In more serious cases, the skin around the rash can become very red and swollen.

When dealing with a possible bacterial infection, such as strep or staph, look for tell-tale signs like bright red skin around the anus for strep or yellow crusting, weeping, or pimples for staph. By keeping an eye out for these symptoms, you can identify the type of diaper rash your baby may have and take appropriate action.

Diaper rash and swimming

Has your little one ever had an irritant diaper rash right before a big swimming event? It can feel like you're stuck between a rock and a hard place: should you take the plunge and risk discomfort in the pool, or keep everyone dry by staying on land? Before making any decisions, here's what it helps to know about how swimwear affects your baby's diaper rash.

Did your baby experience a rash after swimming in pool or beach? Don't worry, it's common! To prevent a future rash from pool water or a baby’s rash after beach fun day, consider using a baby swim diaper. These diapers are designed to withstand the water and contain any accidents, minimizing the contact between your baby's sensitive skin and chlorine-filled water. It's also important to note that cloth diapers should be avoided during swim time, as they can become heavy and lead to diaper rash.

So, don't let a diaper rash ruin your day in the sun! Take a few precautionary measures and enjoy your time splashing with your little one.

Diagnosing Diaper Rash

Diagnosing diaper rash is usually straightforward and can often be done by simply observing the affected area. Parents or caregivers can typically identify diaper rash based on its appearance and location. However, if you're unsure or concerned about the rash, it's always a good idea to consult a pediatrician or healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance.

Here are some steps to help you diagnose diaper rash:

1. Examine the affected area

    Look for red, inflamed skin in the diaper region, including the buttocks, genitals, and upper thighs. The rash may appear as flat or raised patches and may have a scaly or bumpy texture.

    2. Evaluate the symptoms

      Check for any associated symptoms, such as itchiness, pain, warmth, or swelling. Observe your baby's behavior during diaper changes and note any signs of discomfort or fussiness.

      3. Consider potential causes

        Think about any recent changes in your baby's routine, such as new diapers, wipes, creams, or diet changes, which could contribute to the development of diaper rash. Also, consider how often you're changing your baby's diaper and whether the diaper area remains clean and dry.

        4. Monitor the rash

          Keep an eye on the rash to see if it improves with regular diaper changes, proper hygiene, and the application of a barrier cream or ointment. If the rash worsens or doesn't improve within a few days, consult your pediatrician.

          Seeking Professional Help

          If the diaper rash needs medical attention, don't hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional. To determine if a yeast diaper rash is present, a KOH test (also known as a potassium hydroxide test or KOH preparation, is a simple and quick diagnostic procedure used to identify fungal infections on the skin) can confirm if it's caused by candida. In case of a bacterial infection in the diaper area, the doctor will need to check and treat it.

          Remember that it's always better to seek professional help if you're unsure about your baby's diaper rash, especially if it doesn't improve after trying basic remedies or if it worsens.

          Diaper Rash Treatment

          Apply a barrier cream or ointment

          Use a zinc oxide-based cream or petroleum jelly to create a protective barrier on your baby's skin. This helps prevent moisture and irritants from coming into contact with the skin and promotes healing. Remember to apply the cream or ointment after every diaper change and whenever the skin looks red or irritated.

          • Desitin Maximum Strength Baby Diaper Rash Cream- This diaper rash cream is specially formulated to provide instant relief from itching, irritation and burning caused by diaper rashes. It includes zinc oxide, which acts as a barrier against wetness and works hard to soothe skin discomfort.
          • Boudreaux's Butt Paste Maximum Strength Diaper Rash Cream- This maximum strength cream packs a powerful punch and gets to work quickly, providing the relief that you and your baby need. With four simple ingredients - zinc oxide, castor oil, fragrance, and petroleum jelly - it's been proven to provide rapid relief for even the most serious of diaper rash cases.

          Prescription Medication 

          In cases where over-the-counter remedies aren't sufficient, a doctor may prescribe antifungal creams like nystatin or miconazole, antibacterial ointments like mupirocin, or steroid creams like hydrocortisone or desonide for diaper rash.

          For more severe infections, a broad-spectrum oral antibiotic may be necessary. Zinc oxide ointment is typically the first treatment option for diaper dermatitis.

          For yeast infection diaper rash, a pediatrician may recommend using a topical antifungal cream to treat the rash. Always follow your doctor's instructions and complete the prescribed course of treatment to ensure the diaper rash heals effectively.

          Prevention Strategies

          Preventing diaper rash is crucial for keeping your baby comfortable and healthy. Let’s take a look at these amazing tips to prevent diaper rash!

          1. Keep the diaper area clean and dry

            Gently clean your baby's diaper area with lukewarm water or a mild, fragrance-free cleanser during each diaper change. Avoid using alcohol-based wipes or those containing fragrances, as they can cause irritation. After cleaning, gently pat the skin dry with a soft towel or allow it to air dry before putting on a new diaper.

            2. Change diapers frequently 

              Regularly check your baby's diaper and change it as soon as it becomes wet or soiled. Frequent diaper changes minimize exposure to urine and feces, reducing the risk of irritation that can lead to diaper rashes.

              After swimming, change your baby into a clean, dry swim diaper before entering the water. After swimming, remove the wet swim diaper immediately and rinse the diaper area gently with clean water to remove any residual chlorine or salt. If your baby has sensitive skin or is prone to diaper rash, consider limiting the time they spend in the water. Monitor their skin closely and discontinue swimming if you notice any signs of rash or irritated skin.

              3. Apply a barrier cream or ointment

                Use a zinc oxide-based cream or petroleum jelly to create a protective barrier on your baby's skin. This helps prevent moisture and irritants from coming into contact with the skin and promotes healing. Remember to apply the cream or ointment after every diaper change and whenever the skin looks red or irritated.

                Join us on the sweet parenting journey

                Parenting is a real challenge. From feeding to diaper rashes, there are many things to consider when it comes to keeping your little one happy and healthy. But it’s also the sweetest journey, full of moments that will make you smile. It’s a journey that will teach you much more than you ever expected. 

                We hope you join us on the sweet parenting journey, and if you need any extra help, make sure to check out Beau and Belle Littles's page for the perfect swim diapers to avoid diaper rashes along with lots of other information! 

                With the right support and guidance, we can all enjoy every little moment with our families - from snuggles in bed to giggles at playtime!

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