Diaper irritation

Skin | Paediatrics | Diaper irritation (Disease)


An infant with diaper rash has irritation to the skin covered by the diaper. Symptoms can include: inflamed skin (the skin around the genital area and anus looks red and moist), blistering (the skin may blister and then peel, leaving raw patches, ulcers), spreading (the rash can spread onto the tummy and buttocks), ulcers (small ulcers can sometimes form on healthy skin near the area of the rash).

All of this damage to the skin is very sore and the baby can be very unsettled, especially when they pass wee (urine) that comes into contact with the rash. Many babies with nappy rash do not sleep well, waking often due to pain.

Causes and Risk factors

Diaper irritation is caused by constant exposure to urine and stool. Other causes of diaper rash include fungal skin infection, impetigo, and allergic dermatitis. Diaper rashes are very common and most respond well to home care.

Some babies get nappy rash no matter how well they are cared for. Others do not get nappy rash, even when they are not changed very often. Some babies may have very sensitive skin and rashes on other parts of their bodies. Others may have infections, such as thrush, which make the rash worse. Some babies only get nappy rashes when they have a cold or some other viral illness.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The best treatment for diaper rash is avoidance of the precipitating agents which led to the contact irritation and to regions becoming secondarily infected by skin bacteria or yeast. Frequent diaper changes limit stool and urine exposure to the area and remain the foundation for prevention and management of diaper dermatitis.

Application of one of the many diaper-area ointments containing either petroleum jelly or zinc oxide provides an effective barrier against skin irritants and lessen friction to irritated skin...