What is a diaper rash?

Diaper rash is any rash that forms in the diaper area. In mild cases, the skin may be red. In more severe cases, there may be painful, open sores. Mild cases clear up within three to four days with treatment.

What causes 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

When skin stays wet for too long, it starts to break down. When wet skin is rubbed, it also damages more easily. Moisture from a soiled diaper can harm your baby's skin and make it more prone to chafing. When this happens, a diaper rash may develop.

More than half of babies between 4 and 15 months of age have diaper rash at least once in a two-month period. Diaper rash occurs more often when:

  • Babies are not kept clean and dry
  • Babies have frequent stools, especially when the stools stay in diapers overnight
  • Babies have diarrhea
  • Babies begin to eat solid foods
  • Babies are taking antibiotics or mothers of nursing babies are taking antibiotics

What are symptoms of diaper rash?

  • Slightly reddened skin
  • An area that may be warm to the touch

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/12/2019.


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