What is Diaper Rash?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Diaper rash is a normal, albeit uncomfortable, part of being a baby. It may appear as slight redness to raised redness on the skin, and babies who have the condition can seem irritated, especially during diaper changes. There are ways to help prevent this rash, and also signs you should look for to be certain the rash doesn’t become a yeast infection, which requires medical attention. Further, should a rash be very red and raised and seem to be causing a great deal of discomfort, and normal methods for clearing up the rash don’t work, you should see your child’s doctor.

Baby wipes can irritate the skin of a baby with diaper rash.
Baby wipes can irritate the skin of a baby with diaper rash.

Diaper rash is skin irritation, often from exposure to urine or feces for long periods of time. Babies may also have a semi-allergic response to foods breastfeeding moms eat, or they may show sensitivity to different types of diapers, baby wipes or detergents. If a particular wipe or diaper brand or type seems to be causing the problem, switching to a different type of diaper or wipe may do the trick. When you use cloth diapers, you should wash them in the simplest soaps possible, since rash can be associated with using detergents with fragrances.

Ointments can help treat diaper rash.
Ointments can help treat diaper rash.

In warm weather, the plastic covering of disposable diapers may cause sweating and heat rash. Cloth diapers may be the better choice, since they are more “breathable,” but if you can’t change baby immediately, disposable diapers may be the way to go. Generally, if baby continues to get diaper rash the condition may be resolved with a switch from cloth to disposable or disposable to cloth diapers. If you must use disposables, consider at least switching brands to see if this proves helpful.

Disposable diapers have cloth covers that can cause sweating and heat rash.
Disposable diapers have cloth covers that can cause sweating and heat rash.

When a baby has diaper rash, rash cream usually helps resolve the condition. Ointments and cream help provide a barrier from the skin, and normally contain zinc oxide. Many, like Desitin®, also have fish oil. If a baby is prone to diaper rash, you may want to use diaper cream several times a day to prevent incidence of the condition.

Baby wipes, normally a useful tool for parents, can be a problem for children with rashes. The soaps or chemicals present in the wipes can further irritate a chapped and sore bottom. When you can, you should consider using soft cloths and cleaning baby’s bottom with water and a soft cloth only. Use another cloth to pat baby’s bottom dry, or allow baby to be exposed for a few minutes to dry the area.

If you find that diaper rash is not improving after a few days of home treatment, consider seeing your child’s physician. Sometimes, diaper rash turns into yeast infections, especially since warm urine can easily provide a culture for yeast. Yeast infections tend to need antifungal creams to resolve properly, but these should be used only under a doctor’s guidance.

In most cases, the following steps can be used to help prevent or cure diaper rash:

    1. Keep babies in diapers that seem to least provoke their skin
    2. Change babies frequently
    3. Use diaper cream if rashes happen often
    4. Change diaper brands or types when rashes occur
    5. Use soft cloths with warm water only instead of baby wipes
    6. Give baby’s bottom a couple of airing out sessions each day
Frequent diaper changes may help prevent diaper rash in babies.
Frequent diaper changes may help prevent diaper rash in babies.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


What type of lotion are you using? Are you changing her diaper frequently and using baby powder and alcohol free wipes?

If not, I recommend doing these from now on. Also, I recommend a baby lotion or a diaper cream with lanolin. This type of cream helps prevent infant diaper rash because it keeps moisture away.


What is the best type of diaper to prevent rashes?

My daughter uses regular diapers but I'm thinking of trying 100% cotton fabric diapers because she develops newborn diaper rash very frequently. I'm doing everything I can to keep her bottom dry as much as possible but nothing is working. Does anyone here use fabric diapers? Are they better?


A diaper rash won't become a yeast rash, it's either a diaper rash or a yeast rash. However, the two look very similar and are difficult to tell apart.

Essentially the only way to know if a baby has a diaper rash or a yeast rash is to first treat it with diaper rash remedies. If the rash doesn't respond to these treatments, then it's probably a yeast rash and the doctor will recommend a suitable anti-fungal cream in that case.

My baby had diaper rashes many times but had a yeast rash only once. I knew something was different when zinc oxide diaper rash ointments did not work. They always work for the typical diaper rash.

Post your comments
Forgot password?