Diaper rash in babies: All you need to know

by Wylyn Chia
5 years ago

diaper rash in babies

At some point in every baby’s life, diaper rash is bound to happen. Affecting nearly 50% of babies globally, diaper rash is a skin condition which causes a baby’s bottom to be sore, red, scaly and tender.

Diaper rash can be:

  1. Mild – few red spots in a small area
  2. Extensive – red bumps that spread beyond the diaper area to the stomach and thigh areas

Regardless of the type or severity, diaper rash in babies is a common condition that is usually the skin’s reaction to an irritant. 

diaper rash in babies

The different types and severity of diaper rash in babies.

What causes diaper rash in babies?

The number one culprit of diaper rash in babies is the enzymes found in stools and ammonia substances released from urine. These irritants, when left in prolonged contact with the baby’s skin, encourages bacteria and fungi growth which causes diaper rash. 

The other causes of diaper rash in babies are:

  • Infection: The lack of air circulation in the diaper area creates a warm, moist environment where bacteria and fungi thrive.
  • Allergies: Baby’s delicate skin can be sensitive to certain diapers (or dyes from diapers), soaps, detergent or baby wipes.
  • New food: Changes in the baby’s diet mean a change in pH level, content and frequency of a baby’s poop. 
  • Abrasion: The constant chafing of the diaper against the skin. 

How to treat and prevent diaper rash

When it comes to diaper rash in babies, it is best to err on the side of caution by taking a preventive approach. 

Here are some things you can do to treat and prevent diaper rash in babies:


1. Frequent diaper change

Keeping the diaper area clean and dry is one way of reducing the likelihood of a rash. The lack of moisture would discourage bacteria or fungal growth. This is particularly true if your baby is down with a bout of bad diarrhoea where even more frequent diaper change is necessary. 

2. Go ‘Au naturel’

Airing your baby’s bottom often will help her skin to breathe and promote healing. 

3. Avoid irritants 

As far as possible, choose unscented, alcohol-free products as they are less likely to irritate the skin. Using cotton balls soaked in warm water for cleaning will more than suffice. 

4. Protect it!

Layering on a protective cream on dry skin creates a barrier that prevents urine from reaching and irritating the rash further. 

5. Snug fit

Ensuring a good diaper fit that allows breathability is essential. You’d want your baby’s diaper to be snug, yet not too tight that it causes abrasion. 

When to call the doctor

Sometimes, a secondary infection could set in to worsen the diaper rash. 

Candida albicans is a type of yeast that is usually the result of antibiotics given to the baby or breastfeeding mother as it kills off all bacteria include the good ones. This rash is red, slightly raised and often starts in the deep creases of the skin and spreads to the other parts of the body. 

Call the doctor if:

  • You don’t see any gradual improvement after a day or two 
  • Your child looks sick and comes down with a fever
  • Your child is less than one month old and looks infected