Research-backed

Yeast Diaper Rash: Symptoms, Treatment, Remedies And Prevention

Diaper rash, also known as diaper dermatitis (DD), is an inflammation of the skin covered by the diaper, in neonates and infants (1).  At times, the diaper rash could get infected by a fungus called candida, commonly called yeast. The rash is then called a yeast diaper rash.

In this MomJunction post, we tell you about the causes of yeast diaper rash in babies, its symptoms, prevention, and treatment methods.

Is Yeast Infection Diaper Rash Common in Babies?

According to the US National Institutes of Health, yeast diaper rash infections are very common in babies  (2). The candida fungus infection is the most common infection associated with diaper rash and is reported in more than 80% of infected diaper dermatitis cases (3).

What Causes A Yeast Infection In The Diaper Area?

Candida albicans fungus is the main reason for yeast diaper rash (3). The following factors might aid the fungal invasion in the diaper region (4) (5).

  • Diapers create a typical condition of moisture and friction in the baby’s buttock area. These conditions are conducive for the growth of fungus.
  • Urine and fecal matter can raise the pH of the skin, thus making it an ideal environment for fungus to grow and multiply. Frequent stools due to diarrhea might increase the risk.
  • Not changing the diaper frequently and not cleaning the area well.
  • Babies who have an existing oral or esophageal candida infection may be at a greater risk since the fungus can find its way to urine and stool.
  • The good bacteria in the human body keep the growth of fungus under check. Direct usage of broad-spectrum antibiotics by the baby or ingestion of milk from mothers who took antibiotics might increase the chance of yeast infection.
  • Fungi might grow and thrive in areas with high carbon dioxide levels, which are typically seen in the occluded regions under a standard disposable diaper.

How To Identify The Symptoms Of A Yeast Diaper Rash?

Symptoms of a yeast-induced diaper rash are different from the regular diaper rash. The treatment for both is also different. Therefore, it is essential to identify the type of rash (3).

Yeast Diaper Rash SymptomsRegular Diaper Rash  Symptoms
Deep red skin patches with dots, pimples, and scalesPink to red skin which might be smooth or a little chapped
The rash does not respond to regular diaper creams and remains for more than three daysRash heals in two to three days with the help of regular rash creams
Pustules or pimples may form around the main rash, causing ‘satellite lesions’There are no pustules surrounding the main rash
Might be accompanied by oral candidiasisUsually not accompanied by oral candidiasis
Erosion and ulceration of skin may occur in severe casesUnlikely to cause erosion and ulceration of the skin

Both cases may cause itching and burning sensation, which non-verbal babies will not be able to communicate. 

Home Remedies For A Yeast Diaper Rash

There is no extensive research-based evidence to prove that home remedies can resolve a yeast diaper rash. Diaper rashes often occur close to the genitals. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to avoid implementing any home remedies without your pediatrician’s approval.

The following are a few home remedies for yeast diaper rash, supported by anecdotal evidence and limited scientific evidence.

  1. Chamomile: A few studies have noted that chamomile-based ointments are effective in diaper rash treatment (7).  However, it is also noted that the extracts of the chamomile flower may lead to allergies (8).
  1. Oregano oil: Laboratorial studies have found oregano oil to be effective in inhibiting the growth of the candida fungus (9). But more research in humans is needed to prove them to be effective for yeast diaper rash treatment.
  1. Oats bath: Adding oatmeal tied in a cloth to the baby’s bathwater to help with the nappy rash, is an ancient and commonly used technique. But there is limited medical research on it.
  1. Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil is said to be effective for some diaper rashes, but its efficacy for a yeast diaper rash on babies is not completely studied  (10).
  1. Gentian violet: Gentian violet is a compound often used to cure oral candidiasis in babies. However, its efficacy for yeast diaper rash is unknown. Consult your doctor before considering its use for treating yeast diaper rash in babies.

If you plan to use a home remedy, do a patch test on a small area of healthy skin before applying it to the affected area. It will let you know if the baby has an allergy to the substance. It is best to see a doctor promptly in some situations.

[ Read : Himalaya Diaper Rash Cream Review ]

When To See A Doctor?

Consult a doctor during the following situations.

  • The baby is younger than six weeks and got a rash.
  • The diaper rash does not go away in three days.
  • The rash is spreading, especially beyond the diaper area.
  • It is accompanied by bleeding or pus discharge.
  • The baby has a fever.
  • The rashes erupt on other parts of the body as well.

Diagnosis Of Yeast Diaper Rash

The yeast diaper rash is mostly diagnosed by its symptoms and clinical examination. In some cases, the doctor may perform the following tests to confirm the diagnosis (1) (3).

  1. A KOH (potassium hydroxide) test: A scraping from the lesion is stained with potassium hydroxide and examined under a microscope for the presence of fungus (6)
  1. Sample staining: A small sample of tissue is scraped using a cotton swab. The scraping is placed on a slide and stained with special stains, which lets the doctor know the presence of yeast cells.
  1. Mycological cultures: The doctor runs a swab on a lesion. The matter collected on the swab is then incubated in a laboratory for a few days to check the growth of fungus.

Treatment For Yeast Diaper Rash In Babies

The treatment usually involves the use of topical antifungal creams containing the following compounds (3).

  1. Nystatin
  2. Clotrimazole
  3. Ketoconazole
  4. Bifonazole
  5. Sertaconazole
  6. Ciclopirox

Oral antifungal medicines are prescribed only in severe cases or when the fungal infection is also present in the mouth and the digestive system.

Never use over-the-counter antifungal medicines for the baby. The doctor will prescribe a medication based on the severity of the infection and the age of the baby. Also, if your baby’s doctor has already prescribed medications, then do not use home remedies since they may interfere with the treatment. 

Complications Of Diaper Yeast Rash

Most of the time, there are no severe complications of diaper rash. However, sometimes it might cause problems: (11) (12).

  • The lesions may bleed, causing pain.
  • Transmission of infection from the diaper area to other areas of the body.
  • The fungus may spread to the mouth, causing oral thrush and esophageal thrush.
  • Lactating mothers might catch the fungus, thus causing nipple thrush.
  • The baby may sleep and eat less due to the irritation caused by the yeast diaper rash. Inadequate food and sleep might affect the overall health of the baby.

Complications seldom occur if treatment is provided promptly. Yeast diaper rash infections can also be prevented in babies. 

Prevention Of Yeast Diaper Infection

Certain precautions and practices might help in the prevention of yeast infections in the diaper area.

  • Use good quality breathable diapers for your baby.
  • Do not tie the diaper very tight.
  • Have diaper-free time for the baby’s skin to be able to breathe.
  • Change the diaper frequently.
  • Clean the baby’s groins and buttocks with warm water after they soil. Let the skin dry before putting a fresh diaper.
  • If the baby has a fungal infection in some other area of the body, then avoid using the same towel to clean and wipe healthy areas of the body.
  • It is better to use soft washcloths instead of chemical wipes for your baby’s delicate skin. It might help maintain the right pH of the skin.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after you clean your baby to prevent infections from reaching the baby’s body.
  • You can speak to a pediatrician and use barrier ointments like petroleum jelly or zinc oxide for the prevention of rashes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do cloth diapers help prevent a yeast diaper infection?

There is no evidence to prove that cloth diapers can prevent yeast diaper infection. Some studies have noted that cloth diapers may have a higher incidence of diaper dermatitis (regular diaper rash) than absorbent or super-absorbent disposable diapers (13). However, it is not known if any type of diaper can prevent yeast diaper infection entirely.

2. How long will it take to recover from the diaper rash?

Diaper rashes mostly heal in two to three days after taking preventive measures. However, if the rash is infected by yeast, it might take longer. Your pediatrician will guide you about the expected period of healing, depending on the severity of the infection.

3. Does baby powder help with diaper rash?

Baby powder may not help with diaper rash. A study noted that the use of baby powder in the diaper area could significantly increase the risk of developing regular diaper rash (14).

4. Is a yeast diaper rash contagious?

Yes. Just like any other fungal infection, a yeast diaper rash is contagious. It might spread from one part of the body to another and also to a parent or a caretaker.

Yeast diaper rash is a common yet treatable problem in babies. Giving your baby adequate diaper-free time and taking precautions while using diapers can help reduce the risk of yeast diaper rash infection.

Do you have any more tips to avoid yeast diaper rash in babies? Let us know in the comment section below.

References:

1. Chao Yuan et al; Comparison of the Effectiveness of New Material Diapers versus Standard Diapers for the Prevention of Diaper Rash in Chinese Babies: A Double-Blinded, Randomized, Controlled, Cross-Over Study; Biomed Research International
2. Diaper rash; U.S. National Library of Medicine
3. Alexandro Bonifaz et al; Superficial Mycoses Associated with Diaper Dermatitis; Journal of Mycopathologia
4. Jose Endrigo et al., Invasive candidiasis and oral manifestations in premature newborns Einstein (Sao Paulo)
5. Allen AM and King RD, Occlusion, carbon dioxide, and fungal skin infections National Center for Biotechnology Information
6. Skin lesion KOH examU.S. National Library of Medicine
7. Zahra Afshari et al., Comparison of the Effects of Chamomile and Calendula Ointments on Diaper Rash Evidence Based Care Journal
8. Renata Dawid-Pac, Medicinal plants used in treatment of inflammatory skin diseasesJournal of Postepy Dermatol Alergol
9. Manohar V et al; Antifungal activities of origanum oil against Candida albicans US National Library of medicine
10. Diane C. Homeyer et al., In Vitro activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil on filamentous fungi and toxicity to human cells; Journal of Medical mycology
11. Diaper RashSeattle Children’s
12. Akansha Jain, Shubham Jain, and Swati Rawat, Emerging fungal infections among children: A review on its clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and preventionJournal of Pharmacy and Bioallied sciences
13. Robert J. O’Connor et al.; Evaluation of the Impact of 2 Disposable Diapers in the “Natural” Diaper Category on Diapered Skin ConditionClinical Pediatrics
14. Chonnakarn Sukhneewat, Jitjira Chaiyarit and Leelawadee Techasatian, Diaper dermatitis: a survey of risk factors in Thai children aged under 24 monthsBMC Dermatology

Recommended Articles: