Diaper Rash: From Baby Yeast Infections to Best Treatments

Diaper rash baby yeast infection image

No matter how diligent you are about changing diapers, the chances that your baby will get a diaper rash are pretty high. Almost half of all babies do, and it’s easy to see why. Urine and stool on the skin and friction from diapers cause the skin to break down. Once the skin barrier is weakened, germs can get in and make things worse. From identifying baby yeast infections to exploring the best treatments, this post is designed to guide you through understanding and managing diaper rash with care and confidence.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Understanding Diaper Rash

Firstly, let’s understand what diaper rash is. It’s a form of skin irritation that occurs in the diaper-covered region due to wetness, friction, and sometimes, bacterial or yeast infections. Most babies will experience diaper rash at some point, so if you’re dealing with this, you’re not alone!

How Can I Prevent Diaper Rash?

Keep It Clean & Dry

The best thing you can do to keep your baby’s diaper area healthy is to reduce the amount of time urine or stool remains on your baby’s skin, so there is less irritation. Keep the area clean and dry by changing your baby’s diaper frequently.

Choose The Right Diaper

Not all diapers are created equal. Some babies might react to certain brands or materials. If you notice frequent rashes, consider switching to a different type of diaper. Cloth diapers can be an option, but they require frequent changes to prevent rashes.

Also, make sure the diapers you use are not too small. There needs to be enough space between the diaper and the skin so that moisture doesn’t sit against your baby’s skin. Leaving a bit of space between diaper and skin allows the diaper to lock in moisture and then keep it away from your baby’s delicate skin.

Barrier Creams & Ointments

A good barrier cream or ointment is your best friend when it comes to preventing diaper rash. Products containing zinc oxide are great for creating a protective barrier on your baby’s skin. Apply a thin layer during each diaper change.

Petroleum jelly is an expensive way to create a barrier on the skin, preventing urine and stool from directly touching the skin. This can be especially helpful if your baby has diarrhea or frequent bowel movements. Simply apply a thin layer to the clean skin in the diaper area each time you change your baby’s diaper.

What Does Diaper Rash Look Like?

There are several types of rashes that can occur in the diaper area, and all are grouped together and referred to as diaper rash. Read on to learn more about the different rashes you may see.

Irritant Dermatitis

This is the type of rash that you are most likely to see on your baby. The skin becomes inflamed due to irritants, moisture, and chafing. It looks like pink or red patches and is only found on the skin covered by a diaper. The folds of skin in the area are usually unaffected. It is fairly easy to get rid of, but because the skin’s barrier is weaker here it can become infected easily. So, be sure to keep it clean and protected.

Baby Yeast Infections

A common culprit behind persistent diaper rash is a yeast infection. Yeast thrives in warm, moist environments, making the diaper area a prime spot. They’re caused by the overgrowth of Candida, a fungus found naturally throughout the body.

Yeast can cause a rash that is shiny and bright red with a clear edge, and may have tiny red dots spreading beyond the main area of the rash. In some serious cases, you may see sores, cracking skin, oozing, and bleeding. Unlike a regular diaper rash, a yeast infection will typically be worse in the folds of the skin. And it may spread outside the diaper area, appearing on the legs and stomach. Because it often occurs when a baby has been on an antibiotic, it may be accompanied by oral thrush.

If a yeast infection is suspected, an over-the-counter antifungal cream might be necessary. However, it’s important to consult with your pediatrician before starting any medicated creams, as they can confirm the diagnosis and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Bacterial Infections

Bacteria can cause a diaper rash or make an existing rash much worse. Look for bright red skin right around the anus (strep infection) and yellow crusting or weeping pimples (staph infection). Because these types of infections need to be treated with an antibiotic, be sure to call your child’s doctor if you see any of these signs.


Some babies with especially sensitive skin will react to ingredients found in diapers, wipes, lotions, or creams. Because of this, you will see the rash every time you use the product in question and it will react everywhere the product is applied. Try switching diapers and wipes for two weeks and watch for an improvement. Look for products that are hypo-allergenic and free of alcohol, dyes, and fragrances because these ingredients can irritate your baby’s skin.

Sometimes, what your baby eats can contribute to diaper rash. For breastfeeding moms, your diet might play a role too. If the rashes coincide with certain foods, discuss this with your pediatrician.

Other Types of Rashes:

Cellulitis – a bacterial infection that spreads on the skin. You will see sores and redness radiating from them. The area will be painful to the touch.

Staph Scalded Skin Syndrome – a bacterial infection caused by Staph. You will see large blisters, bright red skin, and your baby will likely feel and act sick.

Seborrheic Dermatitis – this will usually start as cradle cap with slightly red, scaly, or yellow crusty patches on the scalp that will spread over the body to the diaper area.

Pediatric Psoriasis – an inherited condition with patches of thick, red and itchy patches of skin

Acrodermatitis Enteropathica – an inherited zinc deficiency that can cause rashes

How Do I Treat Diaper Rash?

Keep Baby’s Diaper Area Clean

  • Use plain water on a soft cloth, a squirt bottle, or a bath to clean your baby’s diaper area instead of wipes.
  • If you must use wipes, make sure they are free from alcohol, fragrance, and essential oils so they don’t irritate the skin.
  • Bathe your baby daily in plain lukewarm water so the affected area stays clean and free of bacteria.
  • If your baby’s skin is raw, try soaking the area in a bath with baking soda. Add 2 Tablespoons baking soda to an infant-sized tub and let them soak for ten minutes. Afterward, rinse them off with plain warm water.

Keep Baby’s Diaper Area Dry

  • Make sure the diapers you use are big enough and fasten them loosely on your baby so their skin stays dry.
  • Dress your baby in loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
  • Let them be naked. Put them on a towel without a diaper to let the area dry out as much as possible.
  • Use a super-absorbent diaper. Switch temporarily to disposable diapers if you usually use cloth because they are better at wicking away moisture.

Use a Diaper Cream, Paste or Ointment

  • Apply a layer thick enough to completely protect the affected skin.
  • Don’t wipe it off unless your baby has had a bowel movement. If it is still clean then just apply another layer over the top.
  • When removing it, use a cotton ball with mineral oil to gently wipe it off.
  • If you suspect a yeast infection (see signs of yeast infections) try applying an anti-fungal cream to the area 3 times a day.
  • If your doctor has prescribed a medicated cream, apply it to clean, dry skin. Add a layer of diaper cream over the top so it stays on your baby’s skin as long as possible.

When Should I Call a Doctor About Diaper Rash?

Call your doctor if your baby’s rash doesn’t improve in a few days with treatment or if you notice:

  • Pimples
  • Peeling skin
  • Blisters
  • Open sores (any oozing or crusting)
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Rash spreading outside the diaper area
  • Your baby is in significant pain or acting sick
  • Your baby has a fever


  1. Fungal Diseases: Candidiasis. (2019 November) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved at https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html
  2. Zimmerman, C. (2020 January). Why is my baby always getting diaper rashes?. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved at https://healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/ask-the-pediatrician/Pages/Why-is-my-baby-always-getting-diaper-rashes.aspx
  3. Schmitt, B. Diaper Rash. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieveda t https://healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/symptom-checker/Pages/symptomviewer.aspx?symptom=Diaper+Rash
  4. Prindaville, B., Stein, S. (2018) Patient Perspectives: What is Diaper Rash?. Retrieved at The Society for Pediatric Dermatology. https://pedsderm.net/site/assets/files/1028/spd_diaper_care_color_web.pdf
  5. Polcari, I. (2020 January) Common Diaper Rashes & Treatments. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved at https://healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Diaper-Rash.aspx

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Meet Katie Griffin

I’m a registered nurse, Lamaze certified childbirth educator, and the mother of 7. I help women realize their dream of a natural, intimate, and empowering hospital birth.

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No matter how diligent you are about changing diapers, the chances that your baby will get a diaper rash are pretty high. Almost half of all babies do, and it’s