Kids Home > Causes of Diaper Rash

The causes of diaper rash are categorized into those related to the diaper and those unrelated to diaper use. Some of the possible causes related to or made worse by diaper use include irritation, bacteria or yeast growth, an allergic reaction. Causes that are not related to the diaper itself include skin conditions such as scabies, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis.

What Causes Diaper Rash?

A diaper rash is any rash in the skin area covered by the diaper. If your baby has a suspicious-looking rash in or around the diaper region, it may have been caused by something as simple as the overexposure to moisture or a combination of a few different factors.
Diaper rash causes are often separated into those related to the diaper versus those unrelated to diaper use.

Causes Related to the Diaper

These are a few potential causes of diaper rash . Some of those related to the diaper or made worse by the diaper can include:
  • Irritation: This is the most common diaper rash cause and is known medically as irritant dermatitis. Diapers naturally create a moist environment, which increases the chance for skin damage. When skin damage occurs, it makes it easier for harsh and acidic elements like urine and feces to irritate and damage the skin, causing a rash.
  • Bacteria or yeast growth: The inside of a baby's diaper is the perfect environment for infections to grow. If the skin has already become irritated from extended exposure to the contents of a dirty diaper, bacteria or yeast could grow inside the moist and warm diaper.
  • Allergic reaction to the diaper or sensitive skin: An allergic reaction can happen to a dye in the diaper. A baby's skin can also be sensitive to a particular baby wipe, powder, or lotion, or to a certain detergent, bleach, or fabric softener (for cloth diapers). This is a less common cause of a diaper rash, although it is not known how often it occurs.
Diaper-related rashes are more common if a child has had diarrhea. They are also more common in children who have recently taken antibiotics or in breastfeeding mothers taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria -- but some bacteria are good. If the good bacteria are killed, bad bacteria could grow in its place and cause an irritation.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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