Can Diarrhea Cause Severe (Bad) Diaper Rash? Treatment, Remedies and Pictures

Diaper rash is a common skin condition that mostly affects infants and toddlers. It is caused by things such as wetness in the diaper area, friction, new foods, irritation and bacterial or yeast infection. Most babies will develop the rash at least once.

To identify a diaper rash, look for skin redness, inflammation and small bumps. There may be patches of irritated and dry skin. If severe, the rash will present with soreness, blisters and may even be bleeding. Yeast infection is characterized by bold rash with well defined borders and red bumps on raised skin areas.

One of the most common causes of severe diaper rash is diarrhea. It doesn’t necessary cause the rash but makes it more likely to occur. This article details the possibility of a severe diaper rash from diarrhea, how it occurs, symptoms, available treatments and how it can be prevented.

What causes severe diaper rash?

Normally, diaper rash lasts for a couple of days or even just overnight. Proper care promotes faster recovery. So what causes severe diaper rash? Why do babies get diaper rash?

Severe diaper rash may occur as a result of an untreated normal rash. For example, constant friction from tightly fastened diapers can end up causing sores on fragile baby’s skin. Below are the main causes of severe diaper rash.


It is very common for babies to get diarrhea. If recurring cases of diarrhea occur at a time when circumstances force your baby to be wearing diapers, severe diaper rash may follow. Fecal materials cause more irritation than urine. This means that prolonged contact with fecal matter such as what happens during diarrhea bouts can cause severe diaper rash. It is even made worse when the fecal matter mixes with urine. The mixture contains ammonia, which is an alkaline substance.

Yeast infection:

A bacterial infection that requires use of antibiotics may be the reason your baby is having diaper rash. Antibiotics do not differentiate good bacteria from the bad ones. Among other things, good bacteria keep yeast growth in control. Their absence may therefore result in yeast infection in the diaper region.

Infected sores:

Diaper rash sometimes causes papules and pustules. If these bumps are to break open and become sores, bacteria can take advantage of the entry points to cause infection. Infected or bleeding sores are more painful than a normal rash and in fact dangerous.

Other causes of severe diaper rash may include:

  • Irritation
  • Friction
  • Wetness
  • New foods
  • Introduction of new products such as different brand of diapers

Can adults get diaper rash? Adults who have to use incontinence briefs can also suffer from diaper rash. When it occurs, the symptoms are similar to those of diaper rash in babies.

How does severe diaper rash from diarrhea occur?

It is very common for babies to get diarrhea. It can be caused by ingestion of some food their stomachs don’t agree with or some illness. Diarrhea takes a lot of fluids from the body. For this reason, moms are advised to check with their doctors if bouts last for more than 24 hours. For babies solely relying on breast milk, help is best sought earlier.

Fecal matter is a more powerful irritant than urine. It hosts both bacteria and certain enzymes. Since your baby may keep having frequent bowel movements during diarrhea bouts, it is very likely that they will almost always be having some fecal debris in their diapers. This provides a constant source of irritation. This added to the fact that babies have very fragile skins shows how severe diaper rash from diarrhea occurs.

Additionally, a mixture of fecal matter and urine contains ammonia. Ammonia is a mild but guaranteed irritant to the delicate skin of your baby.

Which is the best severe diaper rash treatment?

See ICD 10 code for diaper rash for diaper rash medical treatment. As hinted above, diaper rash caused by diarrhea mostly results from irritation. The best severe diaper rash treatment should therefore focus on protecting the skin from irritation. This can be best achieved with diaper rash ointment.

What is it?

The more popular phrase is diaper rash cream. This is a product used to create a protective barrier on baby’s skin covered by diaper. Both cream and ointment provide similar benefits. The difference is that ointments are thicker and therefore with longer lasting effects.

How it works:

Most diaper rash ointments contain zinc oxide as the main ingredient. Zinc oxide is a skin soother. It also promotes skin healing, especially when chapped skin is involved. Some ointments or creams may contain petroleum jelly. Such focus more on providing a protective barrier. It is the same with Vaseline for diaper rash.

How to use it:

The best time to apply it is during diaper changes. Normally, you are advised to make diaper changes after every two hours. You may have to do it more often when your baby is having diarrhea.

  • Begin with cleaning your baby’s bottom with plain water. It is very important that every bit of fecal matter be gotten rid of. If using wipes, go for unscented ones.
  • Pat dry to completely get rid of moisture. Do not scrub or rub, or you will end up with more irritation. If you have the time, let your baby stay without diapers for a while.
  • Place a clean diaper in position but don’t fasten it just yet. It helps keep the cream or ointment from messing up your changing area and also makes it easier to fasten the diaper when done.
  • Squeeze out some of the ointment or cream and use your fingers to apply it on and around diaper area. You can apply more on affected areas and in skin folds.
  • Wipe off any excess cream or ointment.
  • Cover with a layer of petroleum jelly. It helps keep the diaper from sticking to the cream.
  • If using diaper rash powder, apply it all over. Avoid powders containing talc for they can cause breathing problems.
  • Fasten the clean diaper, but not too tightly. Repeat the process at every diaper change.

This process will help treat and prevent a really bad diaper rash from diarrhea.

Severe diaper rash remedies to use at home

Unlike with newborns, you may be able to take advantage of severe diaper rash remedies at home. Below are tips that may help.

Stay hydrated:

Diarrhea is considered dangerous in babies because it draws a lot of water from the body. Ensure to keep your baby hydrated. If necessary use over the counter hydration solutions or get help from your doctor.

Stick to the BRAT diet:

BRAT acronym stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. It is the recommended diet during a diarrhea bout.

Consider probiotics:

Probiotics are said to be sources of good intestinal bacteria. Including them in diets may help stop diarrhea. Sources of probiotics include yogurt, dark chocolate, aged soft cheeses and green olives. Probiotics also help with yeast diaper rash treatment.

Eat this, not that:

Other than the BRAT diet, potatoes and oatmeal are well tolerated during diarrhea bouts. The foods you don’t want to feed to your baby include:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Beans
  • Tea
  • Fruit juices
  • Wheat cereals
  • Citrus fruits

Let your baby rest:

Enough rest is important when dealing with any type of illness, diarrhea included. It allows the body to focus its resources on fighting the illness.

Try home remedies:

Home remedies such as baking soda bath for diaper rash may prove helpful.  Coconut oil for diaper rash is another possible option.

How to prevent severe diaper rash

Mild diaper rash can become severe if not handled appropriately. Below are tips for how to keep a really bad diaper rash from occurring:

  • Don’t wait for the diaper to be soiled – even when your baby is not showing signs of discomfort, change their diapers after every two hours.
  • Use cream – diaper rash cream is very important for it keeps irritant materials from coming into contact with baby’s skin.
  • Allow for aeration – when you have the time, let your baby stay without diapers. You can for instance put a plastic cover under your baby when they are sleeping instead of using diapers.
  • Choose your products well – if a bit of rash appears after you have just started using a certain new product such as washing detergent, it may be causing irritation. This is very common with scented wipes.
  • Clean properly – there are several things that require proper cleaning; your hands, cloth diapers and your baby’s bottom. Cleaning your hands helps prevent transfer of bacterial or yeast infection. Cleaning cloth diapers gets rid of any irritant. As for the baby’s bottom, appropriate washing with plain water gets rid of any diaper waste that may have fallen on the skin or remained in skin folds.

When to see a doctor

While diaper rash treatment can effectively be done at home, medical treatment is sometimes necessary. See your doctor if rash persists for more than 5 days without improvement or is accompanied by signs of infection such as blisters, bleeding and pus.