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Why is my baby always getting diaper rashes?

Christine Zimmerman, MD, FAAP,

Christine Zimmerman, MD, FAAP


Why is my baby always getting diaper rashes?

By: Christine Zimmerman, MD, FAAP

Diaper rash, though usually not medically serious, can be uncomfortable for the little ones who suffer from it and stressful for their parents and other caregivers.

Changing diapers every three to four hours―or anytime you notice the diaper is soiled—can help prevent most diaper rashes.

Here are 5 possible reasons why your baby may still be getting diaper rashes―despite your best efforts to keep their bottom clean and dry:

1. Your baby is taking antibiotics.

If your baby was prescribed an antibiotic, the medicine can increase the risk of two different types of diaper rash.

  • Diarrhea rash. As they fight bacteria that causes illness, antibiotics may also kill some "good" bacteria that live in the gut. This can trigger diarrhea and, in turn, diaper rash. Stools that pass quickly through the intestines because of diarrhea may contain higher amounts of digestive enzymes. When these enzymes come into contact with skin under the diaper, it can be especially irritating and cause a rash.
  • Yeast rash. Antibiotics that kill off some of the beneficial bacteria can also lead to an overgrowth of a type of fungus called candida, leading to a yeast diaper rash. Babies with a yeast infection sometimes will also have oral thrush (white spots on the gums, lips, tongue, roof of the mouth, and/or insides the cheeks).

Note: If you're breastfeeding and taking antibiotics, this could also be a possible cause of diaper rash in your baby. See Medication Safety Tips for Breastfeeding Parents.

2. Your baby has started eating solid foods.

Some babies start to get diaper rash after they begin eating solid foods. This milestone in a baby's diet can lead to changes in the digestive process and in the frequency and content of bowel movements, which can cause diaper rash.

3. You've switched brands of diapers or wipes.

Although it's rare, some babies are allergic to dyes, fragrances or preservatives in certain diapers, wipes and creams. Try switching types or brands of diapers and see if the rash clears.

4. Your laundry routine needs some diaper-friendly adjustments.

If you use cloth diapers, extra steps should be taken to make sure they get thoroughly clean in the laundry. Be sure to presoak heavily soiled diapers after dumping the stool into the toilet. Use hot water and double rinse each batch of dirty diapers. Skip fabric softeners and anti-static products when washing diapers, as these may cause rashes on babies with sensitive skin.

5. Your baby's diapers are too tight.

Wearing diapers that are fastened too tightly can trap moisture, which can cause diaper rash. Diapers that are too tight may also cause rubbing and irritation. If the elastic on your baby's cloth or disposable diaper leaves red marks on their skin, try fastening it more loosely or consider moving up to a larger size diaper.

The bottom line on diaper rash

There are many factors that can contribute to diaper rash. If your baby gets rashes that don't clear quickly, even when you keep your baby's diaper area clean and dry, talk with your pediatrician.

More information

Christine Zimmerman, MD, FAAP,

Christine Zimmerman, MD, FAAP

​Christine Zimmerman, MD, FAAP, a member of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is a Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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