What Are the Symptoms of Diaper Rash?

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on February 18, 2021
Mother changing baby's diaper

Lots of babies get diaper rash. It’s very common, and it’s usually easy to treat. Although it’s more common when the baby starts to eat solid food, it can happen at an earlier age, too.

Your baby may have:

  • A red rash
  • Red and scaly skin in the area that a diaper covers --- around the genitals and buttocks -- and where the diaper touches the thighs
  • More discomfort, especially at diaper-changing time

It may not affect the whole area that the diaper covers.

Severe diaper rash could be bleeding, with raw skin.

When to Call Your Doctor

  • Your baby has a fever.
  • Your baby is less than 6 weeks old.
  • You see no improvement after a few days of home treatment or anytime it seems to be getting worse rather than better.
  • Pus comes from your baby’s rash.

What Else It Might Be

Your child may be fussy every time they pee because the diaper rash stings, but that could also mean a urinary tract infection needs treatment.

If you see white patches inside their mouth that look red after you wipe them with a clean cloth, your child may have a yeast infection called thrush or candidiasis.

A scaly, yellowish rash in the diaper area and elsewhere on the body, such as behind their ears or under their arms, could be a skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis.

When the diaper area is covered with blisters that leave shallow red sores, your child may have impetigo, which needs antibiotics to treat it.

Your son may have an infection and need antibiotics if their penis is swollen and red, the foreskin appears tight, red or swollen or you notice a discharge from it. They may have a painful condition calledbalanitis. See a doctor as soon as possible

Show Sources


Hoekelman, R. (editor) Primary Pediatric Care, Mosby, 2001. “Diaper Rash.” “When Diaper Rash Strikes.”

Mount Sinai: “Diaper rash.”

Seattle Children's Hospital: "Should Your Child See A Doctor? Diaper Rash."

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