What Causes Diaper Rash?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2019
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Diaper rash is inflamed, irritated skin that typically appears on a baby’s buttocks, though it may also affect other areas normally hidden by a diaper. There are many things that may cause diaper rash. A delay in changing wet diapers, for example, commonly causes diaper rash. A baby may also develop diaper rash because of diapers that are too tight or due to an allergic reaction to soap, lotion, baby powder, or the diaper itself. Additionally, a baby may even develop diaper rash because of food he has eaten or in reaction to an antibiotic his breastfeeding mother is taking.

Exposure to a wet or soiled diaper for a long period of time often causes diaper rash. If a baby urinates or has a bowel movement, for example, and his diaper is not changed promptly, he may develop a diaper rash. While a single delay in diaper changes may not cause a rash, continued delays are more likely to lead to this problem. Additionally, there are some babies who have such sensitive skin that just a couple of diaper change delays may result in a diaper rash. Babies may also be more vulnerable to its development when they have diarrhea, and overly tight diapers may cause a rash as well.


Sometimes a baby develops a diaper rash because of an infection with bacteria or yeast. This is often the case when a rash spreads from a baby’s bottom to include his genitals, skin creases, and even his thighs. These types of infections thrive in warm, moist environments, so the area beneath a diaper is particularly vulnerable.

Food changes and antibiotics are also among the most common causes of diaper rash. As babies begin to eat solid foods, their stools often change and diaper rash may result. Sometimes a baby begins to have bowel movements more frequently after the introduction of solid foods, and the increased exposure to fecal matter causes diaper rash. Interestingly, things a breastfeeding mother consumes may also cause diaper rash. For example, some babies develop diaper rashes after their mothers eat acidic foods or begin taking antibiotics.

Something as simple as sensitive skin may also cause the development of diaper rash. Some babies may develop rashes in response to new soaps, lotions, and powders. Sometimes a diaper cream that is supposed to prevent irritation causes diaper rash as well. In fact, some babies may even develop a diaper rash because of the materials used to make their diapers.



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