Diaper Rash - Topic Overview
(diaper dermatitis) is a skin problem caused by the skin staying wet, rubbing
from the diaper, and contact with chemicals in the urine and stool. The skin
may look red, raw, scalded, or burned. While a diaper rash is uncomfortable,
generally it is not a serious problem.
Diaper rash is the most
common skin problem in babies and young children, but it can occur at any age
if diapers or incontinence briefs are worn. Diaper rash occurs most often in
babies between the ages of 9 and 12 months. It often occurs in babies who sleep
for many hours without waking so the wet diaper is on them longer.
An adult may develop a rash in the genital area if he or she cannot wash the
genital area well. If an adult does
not have complete bowel or bladder control (incontinence), he or
she may use incontinence briefs. These briefs can cause skin irritation or a
person may be allergic to the perfumes in the material. This type of rash is
very similar to a baby's diaper rash. Home treatment measures may help the rash
bacterial infections may be the cause of the diaper rash. The skin may be red and swollen with a mild rash or blister and peel in a severe rash. A diaper rash that
becomes raw, oozes fluid, or bleeds is harder to treat.
The most common causes of diaper rash include:
- Not changing a wet or dirty
diaper often enough. The skin becomes irritated from
contact with urine and stool, particularly when diarrhea is present.
- Babies starting to eat solid foods. This may change their stools
and make diaper rash worse.
- Rubbing of the skin by a diaper or
incontinence brief. The irritated area may include the thighs, genitals,
buttocks, or belly area.
- A skin reaction to perfumes in disposable
diapers or incontinence briefs, to chemicals in skin-cleaning "diaper wipes,"
or to the detergents or fabric softeners used to clean cloth diapers.
A diaper rash may also be a sign of
abuse or neglect.
- Neglect occurs when a caregiver does not treat a
diaper rash at the time treatment is needed.
- Abuse occurs when a
caregiver purposely does not treat a diaper rash because of anger directed at
the child or