How to Recognize and Treat a Yeast Diaper Rash

Spotting the Signs of Candida

newborn crying during diaper change
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In the early stages, telling the difference between a diaper rash and a yeast diaper rash isn't always easy. By learning the signs, along with some time-tested prevention techniques, you can ensure that your infant's bottom is clean, dry, and yeast infection-free. 

What Is a Yeast Diaper Rash?

If your baby is between 4 months and 15 months, it's highly likely he'll have had a handful of diaper rashes by now.

And, unfortunately, they tend to get worse once your baby eats more solid foods. 

When the diaper rash is stubborn and refuses to go away despite your best interventions, it may be a yeast diaper rash. This is caused by infection with a yeast (fungus) called Candida, which grows best in warm, moist places (under a wet diaper, for instance).

Infants who are taking antibiotics, or whose mothers are taking antibiotics while breastfeeding, are more likely to have a yeast diaper rash. Frequent bowel movements, acids in the stool, too-tight diapers, and reactions to soaps or products used to clean cloth diapers are also known culprits. 

Yeast Diaper Rash Symptoms

  • The bold red rash is contained in a slightly raised border.
  • The rash is still hanging around after two days of diaper rash treatments.
  • Red or scaly areas (for boys on the scrotum and penis, for girls on the labia and vagina)
  • Pimples, blisters, ulcers, or sores filled with pus 
  • Satellite lesions, or smaller red patches that blend with the other patches
  • Typically, the rash is only under the diaper and has not spread to other areas.

Preventing a Yeast Diaper Rash

Keeping your baby's bottom clean and dry is the best prevention and treatment for yeast diaper rash.

  • Let your baby "air out" by going diaper free for half an hour several times a day 
  • Change your baby's diaper as soon as he urinates or passes stool. 
  • Gently clean the diaper area with water with every diaper change. 
  • Pat the area dry or allow to air-dry.
  • Place the diaper on loosely. If they are too tight, they can irritate the baby's skin.
  • Wash your hands before and after changing a diaper.
  • Use absorbent diapers that keep urine moisture off your baby's skin.
  • Avoid baby wipes that have perfumes or alcohol. Choose unscented, alcohol-free wipes.
  • If you use cloth diapers, don't use plastic or rubber pants over the diaper. Use breathable diaper covers instead.
  • If you use cloth diapers, don't use fabric softeners or dryer sheets and be sure the diapers are rinsed two or three times in the washer, especially if your child has already had diaper rash.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

You may not need to see your pediatrician to treat yeast diaper rash. In many cases, these yeast infections can be cleared up with the simple application of some over-the-counter topical treatments.  You may want to call your doctor to see what she recommends for ointments and over-the-counter treatments.

These three common types of anti-fungal treatment creams are available without a prescription:

  • Nystatin (name brand: Mycostatin)
  • Clotrimazole (name brand: Lotrimin)
  • Miconazole Micatin (name brand: Monistat-Derm)

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 percent hydrocortisone cream may also be recommended for severe rashes.

When to Call the Doctor

It's also imperative to reach out to your pediatrician if your infant develops a fever or the rash begins oozing or has open sores. This could indicate a bacterial infection that requires medical attention.

Contact your pediatrician if: 

  • Your baby is less than 6 weeks old
  • The rash gets worse or doesn't subside 
  • The rash spreads to the abdomen, back, arms or face
  • The rash is accompanied by a fever 
  • You notice pimples, blisters or large sores filled with pus

If your doctor recommends an office visit, she will often diagnose the rash just by looking at it. There is also a simple test she may do, confirming that it is yeast with a KOH test. In this test, a scraping is taken and looked at under the microscope to see if yeast is present.


Diaper rash. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.