How to Recognize and Treat a Yeast Diaper Rash

Spotting the Signs of Candida in Babies

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While most diaper rashes are caused by sensitive skin, infrequently changed diapers, not fully cleaning or air drying the diaper area, and/or chafing, they can also develop due to an overabundance of yeast—or some combination of all of the above.

It's not always easy to tell the difference between types of diaper rash, but it does matter when it comes to treating a sore, red, little bum and preventing future infections. Here's a guide to diagnosing and treating a yeast diaper rash. 

Diaper rash
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin 

Overview of Yeast Diaper Rash

The strain of yeast that's responsible for diaper rash is called Candida. This fungus grows best in warm, moist places—such as under a wet or soiled diaper. Infants who are taking antibiotics, or whose mothers are taking antibiotics while breastfeeding, are more likely to have a yeast diaper rash.

Other common causes of yeast diaper rash include frequent bowel movements, acids in the stool, too-tight diapers, hot and humid conditions, and reactions to soaps or products used to clean cloth diapers.

Yeast Diaper Rash Symptoms

The symptoms of a yeast diaper rash include:

  • Bold-red rash contained within a slightly raised border
  • Pimples, blisters, ulcers, or sores filled with pus 
  • Rash only under the diaper, not spreading to other areas
  • Red or scaly areas (for boys on the scrotum and penis, for girls on the labia and vagina)
  • Satellite lesions, or smaller red patches that connect to the other patches

If your baby's symptoms are sticking around after a few days of using the standard diaper rash treatments for typical diaper rashes—changing diapers promptly, delicately cleaning and air drying the diaper area, and using over-the-counter creams—it's a good indication that yeast may be the culprit.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

You may not need to take your baby to the doctor to treat yeast diaper rash, but it's a good idea to contact them if you have any questions or concerns—and to make sure your baby does, in fact, have a yeast infection. In many cases, such infections can be cleared up with the simple application of some over-the-counter topical treatments, in addition to basic diaper care remedies (see more detail below).

Three easy-to-find anti-fungal creams are Mycostatin (nystatin), Lotrimin (clotrimazole), and Monistat-Derm (miconazole micatin). Ask your pediatrician for a recommendation if you aren't sure which to use. 

If the infection does not subside after the four to seven days of treatment often prescribed on the label, it's important to contact your doctor. A 1% hydrocortisone cream may also be recommended for severe rashes.

When to Call the Doctor

Reach out to your pediatrician if your infant develops a fever or the rash begins oozing or has open sores, pimples, or blisters. This could indicate a bacterial infection that requires medical attention.

If your baby is less than 6 weeks old, it's best to be on the safe side and call the doctor to ensure you are treating the rash properly and that another issue isn't at play. Rashes that get worse, don't subside, or spread to the abdomen, back, arms, or face require medical attention.

If your doctor recommends an office visit, they will often diagnose the rash just by looking at it. There is also a simple test they may do to confirm that it is yeast. Called the KOH test, it involves lightly scraping the area and looking at it under a microscope to see if yeast is present.

Yeast Diaper Rash Prevention

Keeping your baby's bottom clean and dry is the best prevention and treatment for yeast diaper rash. These tips can help you avoid the issue in the future:

  • Avoid baby wipes that have perfumes or alcohol.
  • Be sure cloth diapers are rinsed two or three times in the washer and don't use fabric softeners or dryer sheets.
  • Change your baby's diaper as soon as they urinate or pass stool. 
  • Clean the diaper area gently with water at every diaper change. 
  • Let your baby "air out" by going diaper-free for half an hour several times a day. 
  • Pat the area dry or allow to air dry before putting on a new diaper.
  • Fasten the diaper loosely. If it's too tight, it can irritate the skin.
  • Use absorbent diapers that keep moisture off your baby's skin.
  • Use breathable diaper covers instead of plastic or rubber pants over cloth diapers.
  • Wash your hands before and after changing a diaper.

If you or your baby are taking antibiotics, be extra diligent with these prevention measures.

A Word From Verywell

It can be very distressing to open up your baby's diaper to see an angry rash on their bottom—especially as prompt and thorough diaper care is the main remedy. You may feel guilty and responsible that your baby's diaper area is hurting. However, know that diaper rashes (yeast and otherwise) are very common in babies, despite devoted and well-intentioned parental care. Even with diligent attention, some babies may still develop diaper rashes.

Caring for a baby is all-consuming—and an occasional wet or dirty diaper can easily go unnoticed for long enough to cause a rash, particularly if your child has sensitive skin. Let go of the blame and focus on healing your baby's bottom—and preventing future outbreaks—instead.

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5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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