Understanding Diaper Rash -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Diaper Rash?

The symptoms of diaper rash include:

  • Redness over the diaper area -- around the genitals, buttocks, and thighs
  • Increased discomfort, especially at diaper-changing time
  • Tight, papery skin or skin that is shiny and bright red
  • A strong smell of ammonia
  • In boys, an inflamed penis


Call Your Doctor About Diaper Rash if:

  • You see no improvement after four days of home treatment or anytime it seems to be getting worse rather than better. It's possible your child may have developed a strep or staph infection or a local reaction to a particular lotion, soap, or laundry detergent that may need antibiotic treatment or further management.
  • You see white patches inside the mouth that appear red after being wiped with a clean cloth. Your child may have a yeast infection called thrush, or candidiasis.
  • The rash is scaly and has a yellowish hue and appears not only in the diaper area but elsewhere on the body, such as behind the ears or under the arms. Your child may have seborrheic dermatitis.
  • The diaper area is covered with blisters that leave shallow red sores. Your child may have impetigo, which requires treatment with antibiotics.
  • Your son's penis is swollen and red and you can't retract the foreskin, or you notice a greenish discharge from the penis. Your child may have a painful condition called balanitis, which requires antibiotics.
  • Your child seems irritable every time he urinates. It may be stinging from the diaper rash but it could be a urinary tract infection that needs treatment.


WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on February 20, 2017



Hoekelman, R. (editor) Primary Pediatric Care, Mosby, 2001.

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