What is a yeast diaper rash?
A yeast diaper rash is different than regular diaper rash. With a regular diaper rash, an irritant causes the rash. But with a yeast diaper rash, yeast (Candida) causes the rash.
Yeast is a living microorganism. It naturally lives on skin but can be hard to tame when there’s an overgrowth.
Anyone using a diaper can develop a yeast diaper rash. Read on to learn how to identify, treat, and prevent this type of diaper rash.
How to identify a yeast diaper rash
Yeast diaper rashes require different treatment than a standard diaper rash, so it’s important to be able to identify the type of rash.
Pictures of yeast diaper rash vs. regular diaper rash
What causes a yeast infection in the diaper area?
Yeast can be present on the skin and in other parts of the body with no symptoms or negative effects. However, if the yeast overgrows, it can cause an infection in the area. Overgrowth often happens in warm, moist areas or where a regular diaper rash already exists.
How to treat a yeast diaper rash at home
The goal of treating a yeast infection in the diaper area is to heal the skin and reduce exposure to yeast.
The following home remedies may help treat the infection.
Keep the area clean
Gently and thoroughly clean the whole diaper area every time you change the diaper. It can help remove yeast and also reduce the risk of other infections.
It’s also important to thoroughly wash your hands and anything your baby laid on during the diaper change. This can help prevent the spread of the yeast.
Keep the area dry
Change your baby more frequently. If you notice their diaper is wet, change them right away. Yeast thrives in warm, damp areas, so keeping the area dry can help stop the spread of the yeast.
In addition to more frequent diaper changes, also allow baby’s bottom to air dry between changes. Gently pat the area dry, but avoid rubbing, which can further irritate the skin. You can use a hair dryer on the low, cool setting to help speed up the drying process.
Have diaper-free time
Give baby extended time without any diaper on to further help dry out the diaper area. This can get messy, so consider having diaper-free time in areas of your home that are easy to clean, or put a towel or play mat under baby to help catch any messes.
To further reduce the risk of messes, have diaper-free time immediately after a diaper change. If baby has recently gone to the bathroom, they’re less likely to need to go again anytime soon.
For younger babies, you can do diaper-free time during their usual tummy time. For sitting babies, place books and engaging toys around them to try and keep them entertained on the towel.
The infected area will be tender. Irritating products can make discomfort worse, like soap and bubble bath.
You may also want to hold off on using wipes during diaper changes. Instead, use a clean towel that’s been dampened in warm water to clean the diaper area.
Use antifungal creams
The above measures can help treat the symptoms of a yeast diaper rash and may help it to go away faster, but most yeast rashes need further treatment. Ask your doctor about using an antifungal or yeast cream. Many can be purchased over the counter.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for specific instructions, such as how often to use each day and for how long to use the treatment.
You can also ask your doctor about applying gentian violet. This is a dark purple ointment known to kill yeast, but it may not be as effective as other antifungal treatments. If you do use it, be very careful when applying, as it stains clothing.
Are natural remedies safe to use?
Ask your doctor before using natural remedies like vinegar or oils. Natural doesn’t always mean safe.
If your doctor gives you the OK, remember that a small amount goes a long way, so be sure to dilute products well.
Does baby powder help?
There’s mixed information about whether or not it’s safe to use baby powder to try to keep the diaper area dry and help prevent a yeast rash. Many believe yeast will feed on cornstarch. Cornstarch is the main ingredient in many baby powders.
As part of an older study from 1984, researchers tested for this and found no correlation between cornstarch use and increased yeast growth.
However, baby powder hasn’t been shown to treat a yeast diaper rash that’s already present. In fact, it’s not recommended to use baby powder on children, as inhaling it can damage their lungs.
When to see a doctor
Always see a doctor if your baby is very fussy, seems sick, or the rash looks infected. Doctors can help create a treatment plan to alleviate pain and help your baby heal fast.
Also see a doctor if the rash has lasted for more than a few days or isn’t responding to treatment.
In many cases, a doctor can identify a yeast infection through a physical examination of the rash. Sometimes, though, the doctor may need to scrape off a bit of skin to test for yeast or bacterial infection in the rash.
What treatments might a doctor recommend?
Most diaper rashes can be treated without prescriptions. Rarely, a diaper rash may be serious and affect other parts of the body. Severe yeast infections may be treated with medicated suppositories or oral antifungal medication.
Sometimes what appears as a yeast rash can actually be a bacterial infection. This is a serious issue. It may require antibiotics to treat and prevent further complications.
Possible complications from diaper rash include scabbing skin, bleeding, and irritability.
In extreme cases, a yeast diaper rash can infect other parts of the body, like skin and blood. This is more serious and needs to be urgently treated by a doctor.
Babies with a yeast diaper rash may also develop thrush. If you breastfeed, you may develop a yeast rash on your breasts.
How long will it take to recover?
Most diaper rashes should improve after two to three days of treatment. However, yeast infections can take several weeks to heal since the yeast is a living organism that needs to be killed.
You’ll know your baby has recovered once the rash has disappeared and the skin is healed.
Call your doctor if diaper rash is persistent, doesn’t improve, gets worse with treatment, or is very painful.
How to prevent yeast diaper rash
The steps to prevent a yeast diaper rash are similar to many of the steps you can use to treat it at home.
Diaper rashes are very common since diapers are often warm and moist. Keeping your baby clean and as dry as possible is the best way to prevent rashes and a yeast diaper rash.
Consider these preventive tips:
- Regularly bathe baby in warm water. Clean their diaper area each time you change their diaper.
- Change diapers often. Avoid leaving baby in a wet diaper.
- Let baby’s bottom air-dry for as long as possible after every diaper change. Patting baby’s bum with a soft cloth or using a blow dryer on the cool-air setting may help speed up the process.
- Give baby regular diaper-free time.
- Don’t use rubber pants or diapers that prevent air flow. These can trap moisture near skin.
- Consider using a diaper cream to help protect your baby’s skin. Creams provide a barrier from urine and stool, which can irritate skin and make it prone to developing a rash.
- Avoid baby products that contain fragrances and dyes, such as lotions or soaps. These additives can irritate the skin.
- Don’t give baby unnecessary antibiotics, as they can cause an imbalance of healthy bacteria and yeasts in the body.
What’s the outlook?
A yeast diaper rash is different than a regular diaper rash because it involves a microorganism (yeast) and not just irritated skin.
Treating a yeast diaper rash can be more difficult than treating a regular diaper rash. Most yeast diaper rashes can be treated at home, but see a doctor if your baby is very uncomfortable, the rash isn’t improving or keeps recurring, or if you think your baby has thrush.