Even with the most attentive cleansing and changing, it’s bound to happen: the dreaded diaper rash. Unfortunately, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all condition. In fact, there are six different types of diaper rash and several other conditions that might look like it.
In this article, we’ll discuss the six different types of diaper rash so you can figure out what’s causing your baby’s discomfort. We’ll also cover the best treatments to soothe your little one’s ever-so-delicate skin. Bottoms up!
Table of contents
- What Is Diaper Rash?
- 6 Different Types Of Diaper Rash
- Conditions That Look Like Different Types Of Diaper Rash
What Is Diaper Rash?
Diaper rash is a general term for red and tender skin in the diaper area. Diaper rash is most common under the age of one year. It’s estimated that about 50% of babies suffer from diaper rash at one time or another.
Although, normally, diaper rash is more uncomfortable than dangerous, if accompanied by a fever or other symptoms, it could indicate a more serious condition. If that’s the case, take a trip to your doctor’s office as soon as you can.
6 Different Types Of Diaper Rash
Now that you know what diaper rash is, let’s look at the six different types as well as their causes and treatment options.
This type of diaper rash is just what its name suggests. Something is irritating your poor baby’s skin, making it red and sore. The most common of the different types of diaper rash, it’s easy to address, which is good news for babies and parents.
Although many things can irritate a baby's delicate skin, the most common culprit is an overly wet or soiled diaper. If the diaper is full for too long, moisture will be trapped, irritating the skin.
This type of diaper rash can also be caused by the diaper chafing your little one’s skin or a too-tight fit.
To treat this type of diaper rash, you want to focus on keeping your baby's skin as clean and dry as possible. After a diaper change, the American Academy of Dermatologists suggests letting your little one spend some time in their birthday suit.
As for the diaper’s fit, well, muffin tops are a no-no. As much as you want everything to stay inside, you don’t want the diaper too tight. Read our guide on how to properly fit babies for their diapers.
- Check and change the diaper at 2- to 3-hour intervals.
- Use gentle diaper wipes, like our Gentle Cleansing Wipes made with soothing avocado.
- Slather on a thick protective layer of diaper cream with Zinc Oxide, like our ever-popular Diaper Rash Cream 123.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
This is another easy one: Instead of merely an irritant, this type of diaper rash is caused by an allergic reaction making your baby’s skin itchy, red, and even scaly.
Check the changing table. Anything that comes into contact with your baby’s diaper area could be at fault. Diapers, wipes, and creams are often to blame, especially if they contain dyes, fragrances, or preservatives.
This probably goes without saying, but stop using whatever is irritating your baby’s skin. Keep in mind that it may be a few weeks until the area is totally clear.
If you suspect the diaper, change the diaper brand. You might also consider an organic diaper wipe, free of preservatives. A topical barrier rash cream or a no-touch diaper cream, like our Diaper Rash Sprayable Cream, may also go a long way toward relief.
Candida Diaper Rash
Candida diaper rash (yeast diaper rash) is quite common and causes red and purple sores, bumps, or cracked dry skin in the diaper area. Candida is a yeast (fungus) that grows well in moist places — we’re looking at you, diaper!
This type of diaper rash is caused by an infection from yeast overgrowth. Is your baby or a breastfeeding parent taking antibiotics? Antibiotics can throw off the balance of good bacteria in your baby’s body, making it easier for yeast to grow.
Candida diaper rash can also be caused by thrush. Thrush is a different type of yeast infection that affects the mouth. As what goes in must come out, the yeast can migrate to the diaper region, causing this additional discomfort.
Because yeast is a fungus, your baby will need an antifungal cream to treat the rash. You can purchase an over-the-counter cream, but if the area doesn’t clear up or if your baby is also running a fever, talk to their doctor about other treatment options.
This is one of the most serious of the different types of diaper rash. In some cases, a bacterial infection caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus is the root cause of a baby's diaper rash.
Staph diaper rash is pretty unpleasant-looking. It presents as pus-filled bumps that can rupture, leaving scaly-looking skin. Often with bacterial infections, there are other symptoms, like fever, bleeding, or lethargy.
This type of diaper rash is caused by staph bacteria, generally Staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria produce a toxin that reddens and damages skin.
Bacterial infections require a prompt doctor’s visit, as your baby will have to be put on a course of antibiotics such as amoxicillin or penicillin.
Strep Diaper Rash
Of the different types of diaper rash, strep diaper rash is another one that can be serious. This time the bacteria Group A Streptococcus is to blame. The diaper rash presents as a perianal rash (a red ring around the bum hole) with itching, pain, and sometimes bleeding.
With any diaper rash caused by bacteria, other symptoms like fever, lethargy, or bleeding may be present.
As we mentioned, Group A Streptococcus bacteria are the culprits behind a strep diaper rash. They’re the same bacteria that cause strep throat. The bacteria can spread from your hands to your baby’s bottom during a diaper change.
If you suspect a strep diaper rash, contact your pediatrician promptly. A rapid strep test can confirm the diagnosis. A doctor will prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection.
Since the strep bacteria can transfer from your hands to your baby’s diaper area, always wash your hands thoroughly before changing your baby’s diaper.
Hand Foot And Mouth Disease
Although this is technically a disease, it can present with a diaper rash, so we included it so that you can be mindful when evaluating your baby. This contagious viral disease causes rashes in the mouth and throat, on the palms of the hands, and the soles of the feet.
This virus can spread when good hand-washing procedures aren’t followed after a trip to the loo or after changing a diaper. It can also spread through sneezing, coughing, drooling, or even talking.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for this – it’s more about symptom management. It’s important to contact your doctor promptly if your baby has a fever or is not eating or drinking.
Conditions That Look Like Different Types Of Diaper Rash
With skin so sensitive, babies can be prone to rashes, but not all of them are diaper rashes. (Babies can even get drool rash!) Here are other conditions where symptoms might mimic one of the different types of diaper rash.
Although at first blush it may look like diaper rash if it presents in the diaper area, eczema will turn crusty and purple. It is more often found in other areas of the body.
Psoriasis can also look like a diaper rash or eczema, but it won’t get better with diaper rash treatment.
Seborrheic Dermatitis is characterized by a greasy, scaly rash that’s most commonly found on the scalp but can spread to the diaper area.
Impetigo is a skin condition caused by Group A Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus. Although the sores can be found in the diaper area, they’re usually around the nose, mouth, hands, and feet.
Heat rash presents with tiny, itchy bumps all over the skin. It can occur anywhere the skin cannot breathe and pores get clogged.
Keeping Your Baby’s Skin Irritation-Free
Don’t worry, no matter which of the different types of diaper rash your baby has, there are ways to care for their sensitive skin to avoid further irritation and, with any luck, future rashes.
Good habits go a long way. Double down on your diaper-changing routine and choose soothing products to clean and protect, like Mustela Gentle Cleansing Wipes, followed by a slather of Diaper Rash Cream 123 or a spray of Diaper Rash Sprayable Cream.
With a little extra attention, your baby’s diaper rash will clear up, much to the relief of your baby’s bottom. After all, you know what they say: Happy bottom, happy baby!
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