How to Identify Different Types of Diaper Rash
This post may contain affiliate or referral links, meaning I may earn a sales commission at no extra cost to you. Please see my full affiliate disclosure here.
Sometimes identifying 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 always 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. After a trip to the pediatrician, we discovered that this type of diaper 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.
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be medical advice. If you are experiencing a severe rash or one that won’t go away, please see your pediatrician immediately.
Contact diaper rash
We all probably know this 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 that are a little bigger than pinpricks.
A rash lasting more than two days without any improvement or even getting worse with typical diaper rash treatments may very well be yeast. Please see your pediatrician if you suspect a yeast rash.
If the pediatrician diagnoses a yeast rash, they will likely prescribe an anti-fungal ointment to clear up the infection. When used as prescribed, this rash will clear up in a few days.
If your baby is in cloth diapers be sure to treat your cloth diapers for yeast as well.
Diaper rash caused by acidic poop
An acidic rash happens when your child eats a lot of acidic foods. Some acidic foods include pineapples, citrus, and tomatoes. In our case, my son got this rash when he ate a lot of blueberries.
In my experience, 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.
I like to use a mixture of Maximum Strength Boudreaux’s Butt Paste and some Polysporin mixed together and applied to the area to create a barrier while the rash heals.
These creams are not cloth diaper safe, but you can still use cloth diapers with a barrier like cotton liners or you can make your own fleece liners. If needed, read how to get diaper cream out of cloth diapers. You may also want to use disposable diapers until the rash clears.
If treatment with your standard diaper cream doesn’t seem to be working, see your pediatrician.
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. If you suspect an allergy, see your pediatrician for advice and possible allergy testing.
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 prescription antibiotic ointments.
This skin condition causes inflamed red patches of skin that may have silvery scales.
For this, you will want to visit a Pediatrician or dermatologist for diagnosis and a prescription 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. Visit a pediatrician or dermatologist if you suspect eczema.
You may also like:
How to Get Diaper Cream Out of Cloth Diapers
All You Need to Know About Cloth Diapers
What to Do If You Wash a Disposable Diaper
Very interesting, I didn’t realize there were so many different types of rashes. Thank you for sharing this.
This was really helpful info. Our daughter is in cloth diapers and has had a few different rashes. I didn’t want to just assume it was always a yeast infection and it’s good to know that sometimes it’s just from acidic poop or her eczema.
Fortunately we haven’t had a rash yet but i’m bookmarking this for future reference!
This was informative. I didn’t know there were this many kinds of diaper rash.
This is a really useful guide to have. I have been reading a lot about yeast and am terrified. It’s nice to know what I should look for if it does occur.
Great resource! I can picture each of these but luckily have had very little experience with them.
We’ve only had to battle yeast once – that was before we did the switch to cloth part time. Cloth in the day, disposables at night/when travelling/when out of the house, and we haven’t had any lasting rashes since. Hitting it with an ointment at first signs is exactly the thing!
This was a very informative, blog post! I especially appreciated the advice about acidic poop rashes (that’s a common one in our household); we’ll have to test out your tips! Thanks! 🙂
Now this something new to me! I always thought diaper rash was just diaper rash. It never occured to me that there are different rashes from different causes. …duh… Thanks for the info! (WHY does the pediatrician never tell you things like this????)
This is so helpful – Thank you! We’ve battled with contact and yeast, but thankfully haven’t seen the others. It’s great to see them all listed like this.
This is great! I need to bookmark it and share with my brother and his wife. They are expecting their first baby.
my son use to always get diaper rash before we switched to cloth. happy we have not had to deal with it in a long time!
These kinds of posts are so helpful. Doctors always seem to jump straight to yeast even when it’s not. Being an informed parent can help steer the diagnosis in the right direction.
We are perpetually dealing with an eczema rash on my daughter. In the day, we use hydrocortisone cream on her tush with a fleece liner between. If it’s really bad, at night we’ll use a disposable with a thick layer of petroleum jelly on her to clear up by morning.
(Fun fact: eczema and yeast look a *lot* alike on the bum. We (including doctors) thought it was yeast for the longest time until she got a patch just like the bum stuff on her side.)
Luckily, we haven’t had yeast (knock on wood), but have experienced the contact type, and a bit of the acidic poop type.