Diaper Rash in Infants and Toddlers: Causes, Prevention, Treatment, Foods

Diaper rash is very common in toddlers and infants. In most cases, it does not result from something wrong you have been doing or anything like that. Most mothers will have to deal with it especially during the first 9-12 months of a baby’s life. This is why learning more about the condition comes with a share of its advantages.

When a diaper rash occurs, it can present with mild symptoms or it can involve large body areas. The thighs and tummy are usually affected. Common signs include redness, irritation and warmth. Affected areas may appear swollen or with mild inflammation. In case of extensive diaper rash, a fever may be present.

Medical treatment is not always necessary. Mild cases are treated with options such as good hygiene practices and frequently changing the baby’s diapers. For more serious cases, use of steroidal creams and antibiotics are the better options.

What causes diaper rash in infants

As mentioned before, diaper rash is usually not the result of negligence. So what causes diaper rash in infants? A number of things can be responsible. These include:


It is common for a diaper rash to occur when a baby is having frequent bowel movements or diarrhea. When urine mixes with feces, the mixture contains ammonia, the compound that causes irritation on the infant’s sensitive skin. Leaving a poopy diaper on for too long is a main risk factor.

New food

Introduction of more solid foods to a baby’s diet can encourage diaper rash. This is because the production of feces will be more frequent. Also, prolonged exposure to feces is more likely to cause irritation compared with exposure to urine. Diaper rash caused by the introduction of new foods may be a sign that your baby is not ready for major diet changes yet, but is not a sign of an allergic reaction.

Use of new products

Unknowingly, you might start using a new washing detergent or a different brand of diapers which ends up proving harsh on your baby’s skin. Baby powders and lotions can also contribute to the irritation. Talk with your pharmacist about the best baby powder for diaper rash.

Chafing or rubbing

Babies with sensitive skins are more likely to get diaper rash when their skin rubs against diapers. When diaper rash occurs this way, signs are often localized on the inner side of the thighs and on the buttocks.

Bacterial or yeast infection

If you have been giving antibiotics to your baby, they may get a diaper rash which is usually more persistent. Antibiotics kill both harmful and beneficial bacterial. Absence of good bacteria may lead to growth of bad bacteria or yeast (fungi), leading to infection.

Symptoms of diaper rash in infants

Your baby may develop a diaper rash almost overnight. It occurs on areas in contact with the diaper. Some symptoms are quite common, while others may vary depending on some factors. Below is what to expect:

Skin redness

Redness on localized areas touched by the diaper is usually the first symptom. The affected area may also appear pinkish. Sometimes, the rash spreads to adjacent areas not touched by diapers.

Signs of friction

You may notice some sort of skin irritation, such as caused by tight clothing. This occurs as the diaper constantly rubs against the baby’s skin. The skin may also appear scaly or flaky.

Papules or pustules

A papule is a small bump on skin that usually accompanies a rash. A pustule on the other hand is a bump on the skin that is filled with pus. When a diaper rash causes pustules, you should check with your doctor.


There may be mild inflammation or edema on the affected areas.

Due to irritation and other effects of diaper rash, your baby girl or baby boy may keep getting uncomfortable when the affected areas are touched.  See your doctor if you notice diaper rash symptoms such as fever, pus formation, or presence of sores, or when the rash is unresponsive to treatment at home.

Foods that cause diaper rash in toddlers

It is not easy to come up with an ultimate list of foods that cause diaper rash in toddlers. However, you can try eliminating the following foods and compare the before and after results.


Whether raw or in products such as sauce, tomatoes can be a source of more harsh excrement, which can easily cause diaper rash.

Certain fruits:

Fruits are an important part of diet. Regardless, recurring diaper rash may be resulting from inclusion of fruits such as lemons, strawberries, pineapples and oranges in your baby’s diet.

Some protein sources:

Diaper rash is not a form or a sign of allergic reaction. However, an allergic reaction can encourage diaper rash. Common sources of proteins that your baby may be allergic to include beans, soy, wheat and dairy products.

Foods that cause loose stools:

Diarrhea and loose stools are common causes of diaper rash. What may be an effective way to treat the condition is eliminating foods that result in loose stools. Such include fruit juice, cow’s milk, pears, plums and dairy products, with the exception of yoghurt.

What about the foods that can help stop diaper rash? You can try the BRAT diet if diarrhea is proving a problem. BRAT stands for bananas, rice applesauce and toast. You may want to avoid cereals made from wheat and fatty foods when dealing with toddler diarrhea diaper rash.

A good approach to introducing solid foods to your baby is keeping track of any new food and allowing a period of 4 days to pass before making another change. You can also consider keeping a diary for better record keeping.

Toddler and infant diaper rash treatment

Infant diaper rash treatment is done with a hydrocortisone cream. When a fungal infection is the cause or involved, an antifungal cream will be used. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.

Check with your doctor immediately you notice severe, extensive or painful diaper rash toddler signs. This includes signs such as fever, or a bumpy feeling on the skin accompanied by bleeding or pus. Due to their inexperienced immune systems, infants and toddlers are more predisposed to bacterial infections. See staph infection diaper rash pictures for illustrations. They may help with self-diagnosis. It is unlikely that hospitalization will be necessary during diaper rash treatment.

Not always is medical treatment necessary. Products such as DR. Smith diaper rash cream can be used for treatment at home.  As always, check with your doctor if the condition keeps getting worse.

How to prevent diaper rash in infants

Diaper rash can be prevented or at least be kept from becoming severe. Below are tips for how to prevent diaper rash in infants and toddlers:

Keep it dry:

The main cause of diaper rash is wetness. When not necessary, let you baby spend their time without diapers. Remember to clean the diaper area and preferably use a wipe afterwards. Many babies get diaper rash for having to stay overnight with the same diaper. For this reason, try to manipulate your schedule so that you will be able to change your baby’s diaper at night, especially during a diaper rash bout. Dryness is not only a preventive measure but is also a diaper rash blisters treatment option.

Allow aeration:

Flow of air in the diaper region reduces wetness. To increase aeration, try keeping your baby without a diaper for about 15 minutes several times in a day. When diaper rash has already developed, use larger diapers and remember to change them as soon as they are soiled.

Use creams, ointments, jellies:

There are several types of barrier creams that can be used to keep the skin from coming into contact with stool. You can talk to your pharmacist, although most of them are available over the counter. Once you have applied the cream, cover with some jelly, like petroleum jelly.

Consider home remedies:

Some home remedies have been shown to be effective for diaper rash treatment. Examples include aloe vera and calendula. You can also try ointments that contain witch hazel. Another good option is essential oils for diaper rash such as coconut oil and olive oil.  Baking soda is sometimes used to restore skin moisture and may therefore help in case of dry or scaly skin. Another home remedy traditionally used to restore skin moisture is colloidal oatmeal. When using oatmeal bath for diaper rash, use colloidal oatmeal for best results.

Can breast milk heal diaper rash? Breast milk is a skin soother and may help with skin irritation. Avoid using breast milk for diaper rash caused by yeast infection. It will not cure the rash but will encourage the growth of more yeast. It is advisable that you check with your doctor if home remedies are not working.

When to see a doctor

If your baby is having diaper rash, you need not worry too much. A couple of changes will most likely resolve the problem. The most important thing is ensuring that things such as blisters and sores do not lead to infections.

See your doctor if the changes proposed here prove ineffective. Particularly, seek medical attention if you notice any sign of bacterial or yeast infection.