Swedish Kids Symptom Checker

Swedish Kids Symptom Checker

Back to Index

Diaper Rash

1. Does this describe your child's symptoms?

This photo shows a red diaper rash in the area under the diaper.

Any diaper rash that lasts longer than a couple days can become secondarily infected with Candida (yeast). Note the red spots ("satellite lesions") outside the main area of redness.

If a yeast infection is suspected, clotrimazole cream (e.g., Lotrimin; over-the-counter) should be applied 4 times daily.

LMS Inc.

Copyright 2000-2012. LMS, Inc. Used by Permission.


  • Any rash on the skin covered by a diaper
  • Limited to diaper-wearing age group (birth to 3 years)

Main Complication

  • Secondary infection by yeast or bacteria


  • A chemical irritation of the skin from a mixture of stool and urine being left on it
  • Worse during bouts of diarrhea

2. When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Bright red skin that peels off in sheets
  • Large red area with a fever
  • Age under 1 month old with tiny water blisters or pimples (like chickenpox) in a cluster
  • Age under 1 month old and infection suspected (yellow crusts, spreading redness)
  • Age under 1 month old and looks or acts abnormal in any way
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Rash is very raw or bleeds
  • Has spread beyond the diaper area
  • Rash is not improved after 3 days of treatment for yeast

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Pimples, blisters, open weeping sores, boils, yellow crusts, red streaks

Parent Care at Home If

  • Mild diaper rash and you don't think your child needs to be seen


  • Change Frequently: Change diapers frequently to prevent skin contact with stool. It may be necessary to get up once during the night to change the diaper.

  • Rinse with Warm Water:
    • Rinse the baby's skin with lots of warm water during each diaper change.
    • Wash with a mild soap (such as Dove) only after stools. (Reason: Frequent use of soap can interfere with healing).
    • Avoid diaper wipes. (Reason: They leave a film of bacteria on the skin).
  • Increase Air Exposure:
    • Expose the bottom to air as much as possible.
    • Attach the diaper loosely at the waist to help with air circulation.
    • When napping, take the diaper off and lay your child on a towel. (Reason: Dryness reduces the risk of yeast infections).
  • Anti-Yeast Cream: If the rash is bright red or does not respond to 3 days of warm water cleansing and air exposure, suspect a yeast infection. Apply Lotrimin cream (no prescription needed) 3 times per day.
  • Raw Skin: If the bottom is very raw, soak in warm water for 10 minutes 3 times per day. Add 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of baking soda to the tub of warm water. Then apply Lotrimin cream.
  • Sore or Scab on End of the Penis: Apply an antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin (no prescription needed) 3 times per day. (Reason: a bacterial infection that can cause painful urination).
  • Diarrhea Rash: If your child has diarrhea and a severe rash around the anus, use a protective ointment (barrier ointment) such as petroleum jelly, A&D or Desitin. Otherwise these are not needed. Caution: Wash off the skin before applying.
  • Expected Course: With proper treatment these rashes are usually better in 3 days. If they do not respond, a yeast infection has probably occurred.
  • Call Your Doctor If:
    • Rash isn't much better in 3 days on treatment for yeast
    • Your child becomes worse
  • And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.


  • This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
  • Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
  • Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011 12:00:00 AM
  • Last Revised: 8/1/2011 2:56:01 PM
  • Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
  • Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
If this is an emergency call 911 immediately.

iPhone App Now Available

Swedish Kids Symptom Checker is designed especially for these times. The interactive iPhone application can help you make appropriate decisions on what level of care, if any, is needed and how to provide symptom relief for minor illnesses and injuries you can manage on your own.

Read More

If you don't see your child's symptoms, please see these topics: