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Diaper rash

What is diaper rash?

Diaper rash happens when your baby’s skin get irritated from wet or soiled diapers. It can happen if your child has very sensitive skin or when urine or stool (poo) in the diaper touches skin for too long, making it sore and red.

What causes diaper rash?

  • Irritation by urine and stool. 
  • Irritation from eating new foods.
  • Sensitive skin.
  • Irritation by diarrhea,
  • Yeast infection, also known as Candida.
  • Snug-fitting, air-tight plastic pants or plastic-covered diapers that prevent wetness from drying or that rub the skin.

How can I prevent diaper rash?

The best way to prevent diaper rash is to change your baby’s diaper often, especially if your baby has diarrhea. If your child has diarrhea, you can also help to prevent diaper rash with an unscented barrier cream to protect the skin

How can I treat diaper rash?

  • When you change your baby’s diaper, wash her bottom with mild soap and warm water (just water if there is no stool), rinse and pat dry. If the skin is really sore and red, it may be less painful to wash the area in a warm bath.
  • Use an unscented barrier ointment, such as petroleum jelly or a cream with zinc oxide, to protect and lubricate the area after each diaper change. If you use a cream, clean it off with soap and water after each change and reapply. Do not share creams and ointments with other children and don’t touch the affected skin and then put your fingers back into the jar. Use a different finger if you need more ointment.
  • Using wipes can dry out your baby’s skin. If you use wipes, be sure they are alcohol-free and unscented.
  • Do not use baby powder or talc.
  • If possible, keep your baby’s diaper off for short periods to expose her skin to open air. This can help your baby feel better and heal the rash faster.

What is Candida?

Candida is a yeast-like fungus that exists naturally in the intestines (organs where food is digested). If it overgrows it can cause a rash or infection.

What are the symptoms of Candida diaper rash?

Candida usually causes diaper rash in the deepest part of the skin in the groin area and buttocks. The rash is usually very red, with raised red spots and defined edges.

How do I treat a Candida infection?

  • Candida skin infections are treated with an antifungal cream that is prescribed by a doctor.
  • When you change your baby’s diaper, wash the diaper area with mild soap and warm water, rinse and pat dry. Apply the cream to the rash.
  • Wash your own and your child's hands carefully after the diaper change.

When should I call the doctor?

  • If the rash is severe, or gets worse even when you treat it.
  • If the rash also has blisters or boils, pus or discharge.

Source: Well Beings: A Guide to Health in Child Care (3rd edition)

Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
Public Education Advisory Committee

Last Updated: September 2013