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First Aid: Diaper Rash

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD

First Aid

Diaper rash is a common skin condition in babies. Usually, the rash is due to irritation caused by the diaper, but it can have other causes not related to diaper use.

Signs and Symptoms

Irritant rashes are most common and are caused by contact with urine (pee), feces (poop), and sweat.

Signs of diaper rash include:

  • soreness
  • red bumps and larger red areas
  • peeling
  • scaly skin
  • irritability

Rashes also can be caused by skin infection due to yeast or bacteria. If infection related, signs include:

  • red bumps
  • blisters or open sores
  • pus-filled sores
  • fluid seeping from red areas

What to Do

  • Try to keep the skin dry.
  • Whenever possible, increase the amount of time your baby spends without a diaper.
  • With each diaper change, wash your baby's diaper region with warm water. Try to avoid soaps and baby wipes (these can irritate skin).
  • When your baby has diaper rash, use disposable diapers.
  • Use a diaper ointment or paste that contains zinc oxide with each diaper change.

Seek Medical Care


  • the diaper rash doesn't improve after several days
  • pimples, blisters, or open sores appear in the diaper area
  • your baby has diarrhea with fever or appears dehydrated

Think Prevention!

The best way to prevent diaper rash is to keep your baby's skin as dry and clean as possible and change diapers often so feces and urine won't irritate the skin.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014