Disclaimer: if you are experiencing a severe rash or one that won’t go away, please see your pediatrician.
Sometimes identifying a diaper rash can be frustrating. During the first year of cloth diapering I spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out what kind of rash we had. Identifying different types of diaper rash isn’t easy and I went from wondering if it was allergies, detergent, suedecloth sensitivity, yeast, you name it.
Our most common rash started out looking like a sunburn and would then end up with open sores. Sometimes this rash would develop yeast while we were trying to treat it. We found that we were constantly treating the rash but not finding the source of the problem.
While we eventually conquered the majority of our rash problems, you may need some help figuring out what kind of rash you may be dealing with. Keep in mind that I am not a physician and this list is a combination of my personal experience and researching our own rash problems. Please consult your physician if you suspect anything more severe than a run-of-the-mill diaper rash.
Contact diaper rash
This is your Joe Average diaper rash usually caused by being in a wet diaper for a little too long. You will notice some redness on the skin but nothing too severe. Applying your usual diaper rash ointment and changing soiled diapers more frequently will likely clear this up pretty quickly.
A yeast rash looks like a raised, prickly rash often starting in the folds of the skin. When we have experienced yeast rashes it looks like small red spots not a little bigger than pin pricks. A rash lasting more than two days without any improvement or even getting worse with typical diaper rash treatments may very well be yeast.
This can be treated with prescription Nystatin. If you have had a yeast rash before and are sure that you’re dealing with a yeast rash again, you can use over the counter Clotrimazole or even acidophilus. If your baby is in cloth diapers be sure to treat your cloth diapers for yeast as well.
Diaper rash caused by acidic poop
This is the rash that we battle most often. My son eats a lot of fruit and I suspect that this is a contributor. In my experience the rash happens when there are several bowel movements in one day and they tend to smell sour, almost like provolone cheese. The area starts to look like a sunburn and if you catch it early, great! If not, this can lead to a bright red, painful rash and even develop open sores.
What has worked the best for us is some extra strength Boudreaux’s Butt Paste and some Polysporin mixed together and applied to the area. If you use cloth diapers you MUST use a thick barrier like a cotton or fleece liner. You may also want to use disposable diapers. These creams are not cloth diaper safe. If you can’t find the extra strength (in the red tube) the regular Butt Paste in the yellow tube will work as well, just not quite as quickly.
This may take some troubleshooting since it could be an allergy to a food, detergent, ointment, or a material in disposable diapers. Some clues may help you know where to begin with your detective work. If there is a ring around the anus, this could be a food allergy. If it’s all over the diaper area then it could be something in the diaper or the detergent if you use cloth diapers.
There are other skin conditions that can manifest in the diaper area but they aren’t technically a diaper rash.
This is a common, contagious skin infection that can be caused by Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes (also called group A Streptococcus, which also causes strep throat). This can appear as a blister or a crusty area on the skin. Impetigo is treated with antibiotic ointments.
This skin condition causes inflamed red patches of skin that may have silvery scales. For this you will want to visit a dermatologist for a topical ointment.
Red, itchy, scaly rash that may cause blistering and oozing. Certain foods can make eczema outbreaks worse. Treatment may require medication, antibiotic creams and steroids in severe cases.