Diaper Rash Patient Information Fact Sheet

What is diaper rash?
Most babies will get diaper rash at some time. It can be a rash with red spots or just soreness of the skin that is covered by the baby’s diaper. If your baby develops diaper rash, the skin can become sore and uncomfortable. If the diaper rash is severe, blisters and small lumps may appear on the skin. The blisters may break causing areas of moist, broken skin, which can easily become infected. The most frequent infection is thrush, which is caused by a yeast called Candida albicans. Thrush may appear first in the baby’s mouth and look as if patches of milk are stuck to the inside of the mouth. Thrush in the diaper area causes the skin to become very red and raw. Blisters and pimples may form on other parts of the body. If your baby has had diaper rash for more than a few days the skin is likely to be infected.

What causes diaper rash?
The main cause of skin irritation is prolonged contact with a wet or dirty diaper. Some babies have especially sensitive skin that easily becomes red and inflamed if the diaper rubs against it. If the rash is difficult to clear or keeps recurring, it may be a sign that the diaper needs to be changed more often. In some cases the rash is caused by skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, which can be made worse by wearing diapers. Diaper rash is less common in babies wearing disposable diapers, because these are more effective than cloth diapers at keeping the diaper area dry. However, disposable diapers still need to be changed regularly. If cloth diapers are used, do not place plastic pants over them as this makes diaper rash more likely to occur.

How can diaper rash be prevented?
It is important to check regularly to see if your baby’s diaper needs changing. This should be done every hour or so in newborn babies and every 2 hours in older infants. Generally you should change your baby’s diaper after feeding and when you put them down to sleep. If your baby is dirty use the diaper to clean the dirtiest areas. Then clean the whole area thoroughly using a soft washcloth and warm water or baby wipes. When you have cleaned the area, leave your baby to kick in a warm place to allow the skin to dry before putting on a clean diaper.