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How to Identify Different Types of Diaper Rash

How to Identify Different Types of Diaper Rash

by Regan

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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.


Disclaimer: if you are experiencing a severe rash or one that won’t go away, please see your pediatrician.

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.

Yeast rash

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 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.

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 make your own fleece liners. 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.

How to Identify Different Types of Diaper Rash

Allergies

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. 

Impetigo

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.

Psoriasis 

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.

Eczema

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.

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How to Identify Different Types of Diaper Rash

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15 comments

15 comments

Nicole Bear November 13, 2013 - 11:50 am

Luckily, we haven’t had yeast (knock on wood), but have experienced the contact type, and a bit of the acidic poop type.

Reply
Suzi Satterfield November 13, 2013 - 11:58 am

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.)

Reply
Leela R. November 13, 2013 - 1:52 pm

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.

Reply
shawna November 13, 2013 - 7:01 pm

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!

Reply
OurFamilyWorld November 13, 2013 - 7:29 pm

This is great! I need to bookmark it and share with my brother and his wife. They are expecting their first baby.

Reply
Jennifer November 13, 2013 - 9:06 pm

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.

Reply
Sandy Cain November 14, 2013 - 7:58 am

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????)

Reply
Jennifer A. November 14, 2013 - 10:32 am

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! 🙂

Reply
Kimberly R November 14, 2013 - 11:22 am

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!

Reply
Bianca @ The Pierogie Mama November 18, 2013 - 11:43 am

Great resource! I can picture each of these but luckily have had very little experience with them.

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Tara November 18, 2013 - 5:40 pm

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.

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Helga June 5, 2014 - 9:12 am

This was informative. I didn’t know there were this many kinds of diaper rash.

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Janna Law October 27, 2014 - 1:48 am

Fortunately we haven’t had a rash yet but i’m bookmarking this for future reference!

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Erica Opperman March 18, 2016 - 2:51 pm

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.

Reply
Pat F November 16, 2017 - 12:14 pm

Very interesting, I didn’t realize there were so many different types of rashes. Thank you for sharing this.

Reply

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