Diaper Dermatitis


What is diaper dermatitis?

Diaper dermatitis, commonly known as diaper rash, is a term used to describe different skin rashes in the diapered area. The rash is usually red, scaling and, rarely, ulcerated. It is commonly seen in infants between the ages of 9 and 12 months, but may begin within the first two months of life.

What causes diaper dermatitis?

Possible contributors to diaper dermatitis include the following:

  • Irritation. This is from urine and feces trapped in the diaper.
  • Candida diaper dermatitis. Dermatitis caused by a yeast infection in the diaper area, often preceded by diaper dermatitis.
  • Seborrheic diaper dermatitis. A common, chronic scaly skin condition that can affect the diaper area as well as other locations on the body.

Other less common causes of dermatitis in the diaper area include the following:

  • Impetigo. Dermatitis caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Perianal streptococcal disease. Dermatitis caused by group A streptococcus.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis. A type of dermatitis that is rare in the first two years of life, but may be caused by soaps and detergents, or the diaper itself.

What are the symptoms of diaper dermatitis?

The symptoms of diaper dermatitis vary depending on the cause of the dermatitis, and may be different for each child who is affected. The following are common characteristics of the rash that may occur with each type of infection:

  • Candida diaper dermatitis. This rash usually begins in the creases or folds of the thighs and in the diaper area, and then spreads. The rash is usually a deep red, shiny rash with red, satellite lesions (papules or pustules). This type of rash may be associated with thrush, a yeast infection in the baby's mouth.
  • Seborrheic diaper dermatitis. This rash can affect the skin folds in the groin area and is usually pink and scaly. Infants may also have this rash on their scalp, neck, and armpits at the same time.
  • Contact diaper dermatitis. This rash is mostly seen on the buttocks and may extend to the thighs, stomach, and waist area, but does not generally involve folds in the area. The rash is usually red and shiny.

The symptoms of diaper dermatitis may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.

How is diaper dermatitis diagnosed?

Diaper dermatitis is usually diagnosed based on the location and appearance of the rash during physical examination of your child. In some cases, your child's doctor may do a skin scraping or a swab culture to aid in the diagnosis.

Treatment for diaper dermatitis

Treatment for diaper dermatitis will vary based on the cause of the dermatitis. Specific treatment for diaper dermatitis will also be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • Expectations for the course of the disease

Treatment may include:

  • Medicated diaper creams (as prescribed by your child's doctor)
  • Barrier diaper creams

Proper skin care is also very important in preventing diaper dermatitis. This includes:

  • Keeping the diaper area clean and dry
  • Changing diapers frequently
  • Allowing the diaper area to air dry at times
  • Limiting the use of harsh cleaners in the diaper area