Why Babies Get Diaper Rash: Prevention, Treatment with Cream and Powder, Pictures

It is most likely that every mother will have to deal with diaper rash at some point, especially when their baby is between 9 and 12 months old. In most cases, the rash does not indicate negligence as some people will have you think.

Diaper rash is not considered dangerous unless it is accompanied by signs of infection such as general weakness, fever and the formation of pus. Most babies are able to recover with a couple of home treatments.

You can recognize diaper rash from its signs and symptoms. Typically, it presents with similar signs to those of atopic dermatitis. Diaper dermatitis is, in fact, its other name. Typical signs include redness, skin irritation and slight inflammation. Bumps may also be present.

Why do babies get diaper rash?

As mentioned earlier, almost every baby will experience a diaper rash bout once or even several times when growing up. So why do babies get diaper rash? There are various things that can cause a diaper rash in babies and toddlers. These include:


It is very common for babies and toddlers to have diarrhea. Frequent pooping means that the diaper area will almost always be wet. Additionally, you find that fecal matter is a more potent irritant than urine.

Wet diaper region:

Wetness allows for bacterial and fungal overgrowth. It also promotes skin fragility, a factor that makes it more possible for irritants and pathogens to reach superficial tissue. In fact, diarrhea is not necessarily a cause but is a risk factor for diaper rash. It is recommended that diaper changes be made more often during a bout with diarrhea.

Contact with irritants:

It is likely that you will make some changes in the brand of soap you use, type of diapers or even washing detergents. Any of such changes can prove a source of irritation to a baby’s delicate skin.

Tight diapers:

When tight diapers repeatedly rub against your baby’s delicate skin, flaws or tiny skin injuries can occur. The injuries may allow for bacterial or fungal growth and ultimately cause rash. Friction is also a potential cause of irritation.

Introduction to solid foods:

When babies are being introduced to new foods, especially solid foods, stool production will be more frequent. This translates into more time spent in the same diapers, which is a perfect recipe for diaper rash. Fecal matter is itself an irritant but is made worse by contact with urine. You may have heard of foods that cause diaper rash in toddlers. Well, the foods themselves do not necessarily cause diaper rash. What they do is encourage loose and acidic stools. Good examples include fruit juices, wheat cereals and citrus fruits. Dairy products with the exception of yoghurt may have similar effects. Better food choices that may help prevent loose stools include rice, bananas and toast.


Bacteria or fungi can cause a diaper rash. Almost about half of all diaper rash cases have something to do with a candidal infection. Candida is a fungus that lives on our skins. Normally, it is kept from growing out of control by “good” bacteria, which also happen to live on our skin or in our intestines. Use of antibiotics, whether by mother or baby, may destroy the good bacteria and result in the overgrowth of the fungus. Infection in the diaper region can also be caused by staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria. Staph infections can occur on already broken or cracked skin. Strep infections are usually transmitted through contaminated air.

And what causes yeast diaper rash? Yeast diaper rash occurs due to wetness in the diaper region or due to destruction of the bacteria that keep yeast growth under control. This is why a really bad diaper rash due to a yeast infection is common when baby is having diarrhea or when taking antibiotics.

How to use and what to look for in a diaper rash cream

What to look for:

Proper use of baby diaper rash cream begins with choosing the right cream. Look for creams containing zinc oxide. This is the most popular skin soother used in diaper rash creams. Calendula, aloe and lanolin are also good options.

Avoid creams with boric acid, camphor, methyl salicylate and phenol. These ingredients are potentially harmful to the sensitive baby’s skin.

Note that the word creams may be used collectively to mean creams, ointments or pastes. All of these primarily work by providing a protective barrier between contents of a soiled diaper and the baby’s skin. Ointments contain oils and provide protection for a longer time when compared to creams. The problem is that they are potential irritants. Pastes usually contain zinc oxide and are generally recommended for severe rash.

How to use:

  • Remove the dirty diaper – begin with fastening the soiled diaper to remove before discarding it. If there is visible diaper waste on baby’s skin, use wipes to get rid of it and cleanse the baby thoroughly.
  • Place a clean diaper in position – before applying the cream, place a clean diaper below the baby’s buttocks. It helps keep the cream from messing up your changing area and also makes it easier to fasten the diaper once done.
  • Use a dime-sized cream – gently, squeeze a dime-sized amount of the baby diaper rash cream you are using onto your fingers. Apply gently, paying extra attention on affected areas.
  • Fasten the new diaper –for a baby boy, you will need to point the penis down so that urine doesn’t escape. This is not applicable for a baby girl. Fasten the diaper.
  • Remember to wash your hands – when fastening the clean diaper, you may have had wiped your fingers with baby wipes. It is still necessary to wash your hands afterwards. This ensures that all bacteria have been removed.

Is baby powder for diaper rash safe?

Use of baby powder has increasingly fallen out favor. So is it safe to use baby powder for diaper rash?

The main concern regarding the safety of using baby powders comes from the fact that the powders were shown to cause lungs problems. For example, powders that contain talc are very fine. This means that they can be easily breathed in. To address this issue, cornstarch for diaper rash treatment powders were introduced. These powders are less airborne but can still cause breathing problems.

Another concern is whether baby powder actually helps with diaper rash treatment. Experts recommend use of baby diaper rash cream instead of powders.

If you decide to use a baby powder for diaper rash, keep some distance between you and baby when shaking the powder into your hand. Remember to use cornstarch-based powder.

Diaper rash treatment

Medical treatment:

For a severe rash that doesn’t improve with home treatments, check with your doctor. Medical diaper rash treatment is done with a mild hydrocortisone cream. Since most persistent diaper rashes are associated with yeast infection, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal such as lotrimin antifungal cream. Oral antibiotics will be prescribed if signs of bacterial infection are present.

Home treatment:

Home treatment can be done with natural remedies or over the counter products. For example, you can try aquaphor healing ointment which is formulated to provide gentle care for delicate baby’s skin. Aveeno products are also good options. Be careful when using over the counter newborn diaper rash remedies. If possible, check with your doctor first.

The list of considerable natural diaper rash treatment remedies you can try is long. Good examples include oatmeal baths, essential oils, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, baking soda and Epsom salt. Oatmeal bath for diaper rash is particularly popular. It is said to restore skin integrity and may also reduce inflammation. Essential oils have been traditionally used for many skin problems.

Can breast milk heal diaper rash? Breast milk is known to soothe skin irritation. It also carries many antibodies which promote healing. You can use breast milk when frozen or raw for diaper rash treatment. But be careful since breast milk contains sugars which propagate growth of yeast.

How to prevent baby diaper rash

While diaper rash is very common and almost guaranteed for every baby, much can be done to prevent it. Below are tips to how to prevent baby diaper rash that may help:

Remember to change diapers:

It is recommended that you change your baby’s diapers every two hours even if the baby has not pooped. This is because wetness in the diaper region is responsible for most cases of diaper rash.

Leave to air dry:

Before placing another diaper, allow your baby to sit diaper free for about 15 minutes. Leave to air dry if you have washed them. If in a hurry, avoid scrubbing or rubbing but rather pat dry.

Go organic:

Scented wipes are ideal for you, but may end up irritating your baby’s skin. Go for fragrance and alcohol-free wipes.

Rinse with plain water:

Whenever possible, use plain warm water to rinse your baby’s bottom. This should be done gently to avoid further skin irritation.

Consider larger diapers:

During a diaper rash bout, you can consider using larger diapers. Alternatively, try not to over tighten the diapers. Excess tightening causes chafing at the thighs and waist.

Use baby diaper rash cream:

Baby diaper rash creams and ointments help prevent direct contact with irritant materials. Even if you will not use them at every diaper change, use them occasionally, especially in the advent of diaper rash symptoms.

Wash your hands after changing diapers:

Bacteria and yeast can easily be passed around if proper hand washing is not done after changing diapers.

When to see a doctor

The right remedy and a couple of changes will most likely help you get rid of diaper rash. If the condition doesn’t improve within 3-5 days, it is best that you check with your doctor. You could be dealing with a serious infection that requires medical treatment.