Diaper rash

Diaper rash is a common form of inflamed skin (dermatitis) that appears as a patchwork of bright red skin on your baby's bottom.

Diaper rash is commonly linked to continuously wet or infrequently changed diapers, diarrhea, and using plastic pants to cover diapers. Diaper rash also may develop after solid foods are added to your baby's diet, when breast-feeding mothers eat certain foods or when your baby is taking antibiotics.

Diaper rash can alarm parents and annoy babies, but most diaper rash cases can be resolved with simple at-home treatments.

Symptoms Causes Prevention

Diaper rash is characterized by the following:

  • Skin signs. Diaper rash is marked by red, puffy and tender-looking skin in the diaper region — buttocks, thighs and genitals.
  • Changes in your baby's disposition. You may notice your baby seems more uncomfortable than usual, especially during diaper changes. A baby with a diaper rash often fusses or cries when the diaper area is washed or touched.

Diaper rashes can occur intermittently, anytime your child wears diapers, but they're more common in babies during their first 15 months, especially between 9 and 12 months of age.

When to see a doctor

Diaper rash is usually easily treated and improves within a few days after starting home treatment. If your baby's skin doesn't improve after a few days of home treatment with over-the-counter ointment and more frequent diaper changes, talk to your doctor. Sometimes, diaper rash leads to secondary infections that may require prescription medications.

Have your child examined if:

  • The rash is severe
  • The rash worsens despite home treatment

Also see your child's doctor if the rash occurs along with any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Blisters or boils
  • A rash that extends beyond the diaper area
  • Pus or weeping discharge
  • Unusual sleepiness

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