Top of the pageCheck Your Symptoms
Diaper rash (diaper dermatitis) is the most common skin problem in babies and young children. The skin may look red, raw, scalded, or burned. A diaper rash is uncomfortable. But in most cases, it's not a serious problem.
Diaper rash is usually caused by the skin staying wet, the diaper rubbing the skin, and skin contact with urine and stool. It often occurs in babies who sleep for many hours so the wet diaper is on them longer. Diaper rash may also be caused by a fungal infection or bacterial infection.
Adults may get diaper rash if they can't wash the genital area well or if they use incontinence briefs. These briefs can cause skin irritation. Or a person may be allergic to the perfumes in the material.
A diaper rash may also be a sign of abuse or neglect.
Most diaper rashes clear up within 2 to 3 days when treated at home. The rash usually clears up when diapers are changed more often, the skin is carefully cleaned, and over-the-counter ointments are put on the area. A diaper rash that becomes raw, oozes fluid, or bleeds is harder to treat.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Signs that diaper rash may be a fungal infection include:
Symptoms of a more serious infection in the diaper area may include:
These symptoms usually last more than 2 days (48 hours) without getting better. A milder diaper rash usually will start to improve sooner.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Home treatment is generally all that's needed for most cases of diaper rash. At the first sign of a diaper rash, try the following steps:
If the diaper rash doesn't get better after several diaper changes, try the following steps.
When treating a diaper rash:
Call a doctor if any of the following occur during self-care at home:
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared for your appointment.
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffClinical Review Board: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineElizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2023 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.