Diaper Rash  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • Any rash on the skin covered by a diaper
  • Age: Diaper-wearing age group (birth to 3 years)

If not, see these topics
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Diaper Rash
Diaper Rash

When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Bright red skin that peels off in sheets
  • Fever and looks infected (spreading redness)
  • Age less than 1 month old with tiny water blisters or pimples in a group
  • Age less than 1 month old and looks infected (yellow scabs, spreading redness)
  • Age under 1 month old and looks or acts abnormal in any way
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Any pimples, blisters, boils, yellow scabs, or spreading redness
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Rash is very raw or bleeds
  • Rash has spread outside the diaper area
  • Rash is not better after 3 days of using yeast cream
Parent Care at Home If
  • Mild diaper rash
Causes & Health Information


  • Stool and urine left on skin causes a chemical irritation
  • Worse during bouts of diarrhea

Main Complication

  • Secondary infection by yeast or bacteria

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Diaper rashes are very common in babies.
    • Often caused by not cleaning stool off the skin soon enough.
    • Here's some care advice that should help.
  2. Change More Often:
    • Change diapers more often to prevent skin contact with stool.
    • You may want to get up once during the night to change the diaper.
  3. Rinse with Warm Water:
    • Rinse the baby's skin with lots of warm water during each diaper change.
    • Wash with a mild soap (such as Dove) only after stools. Reason: Using soap often can interfere with healing.
    • Do not use diaper wipes. Reason: They leave a film of bacteria on the skin.
  4. Leave Bottom Open to Air:
    • Expose the bottom to air as much as possible.
    • Attach the diaper loosely at the waist to help with air exposure.
    • When napping, take the diaper off and lay your child on a towel. Reason: Dryness reduces the risk of yeast infections.
  5. Anti-Yeast Cream:
    • Most diaper rashes respond to 3 days of warm water cleansing and air exposure. If you've tried this or the rash is bright red, suspect a yeast infection.
    • Buy an anti-yeast cream such as Lotrimin. No prescription is needed.
    • Use Lotrimin cream 3 times per day.
  6. Raw Skin:
    • If the bottom is very raw, soak in warm water for 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of baking soda to the tub of warm water.
    • Do this 3 times per day.
    • Then, put Lotrimin cream on the rash.
  7. Sore or Scab on End of the Penis:
    • Use an antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin. No prescription is needed.
    • Do this 3 times per day.
    • Reason: The sore is a bacterial infection that can cause painful urination.
  8. Diarrhea Rash:
    • If your child has diarrhea and a rash around the anus, use a protective ointment. Examples are petroleum jelly, A&D or Desitin.
    • This forms a barrier between the skin and the stool.
    • Otherwise, these generally are not needed.
    • Caution: Wash off the skin before putting it on.
  9. What to Expect:
    • With proper treatment, most diaper rashes are better in 3 days.
    • If the rash does not respond, a yeast infection has probably occurred.
  10. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Rash isn't much better after 3 days of using yeast cream
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 1/13/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.