Types of Diaper Rash
As mentioned above, there are several different types and causes of diaper rash. Rashes on babies vary in severity, cause, and treatment, so it is important to correctly identify which type of rash your baby is suffering.
Common Diaper Rash: Irritant Diaper Dermatitis
The most common form of diaper rash is caused by extended exposure to moisture and is considered a form of contact dermatitis. Your baby’s likelihood of experiencing diaper rash can increase depending on diet; drastic changes in diet often result in diaper rash, especially when a baby transitions to solid food for the first time. Babies that are breastfed are less likely to experience diaper rash because the pH levels of breast milk are higher and do not cause irritation.
Bacterial Diaper Rash
Bacteria exist naturally in every baby’s body. However, the warm, moist conditions present in an infant’s diaper make it very easy for bacteria to flourish. When this happens, a bacterial infection will develop and result in a diaper rash that is more difficult to treat.
A bacterial diaper rash is more likely to develop if your baby is already suffering from common diaper rash. Because the original instance of diaper rash exposes the baby’s thin skin, excessive bacteria takes hold and spreads throughout the diaper area. Bacterial infections also can take hold in the creases of skin, as these are even warmer and wetter than the surrounding areas. A bacterial infection may spread beyond the region commonly affected by dermatitis to include the thighs and genitals.
Yeast Diaper Rash
A yeast rash is similar in symptoms to a bacterial rash, however, it is caused by the growth of fungi rather than bacteria. Like bacteria, everyone carries yeast on their body in amounts that do not cause irritation. Yeast is a fungus ( Candida albicans ) that thrives in warm and damp conditions and will cause infections when it grows beyond normal levels.
It is important to distinguish between yeast infections and bacterial infections because the symptoms and treatment are different though the causes are very similar. During the initial stages of the outbreak, it will be difficult to tell the difference between a yeast rash and one caused by bacteria or common diaper rash conditions. However, as the yeast rash develops in severity, it can be identified by slightly raised edges and “satellite” patches that are separate from the larger rash.
Contrary to popular belief, yeast infections can affect both men and women. Yeast infections are common among women because the conditions in a woman’s vagina are ideal for the growth of fungus. These warm and wet conditions are similarly present in a baby’s diaper and other areas of the body (crevasses like armpits and skin creases). A yeast rash will last longer than a typical diaper rash and must be treated with anti-fungal medication.
One other clue to identifying a yeast rash: if the baby (or its mother) is on antibiotics, yeast is more likely to flourish and result in an infection. Antibiotics target the bacteria that usually keeps yeast from growing beyond normal amounts.
Your baby comes into contact with numerous new products every day, from baby wipes and diapers to strollers and car seats. Any product that comes into contact with your child’s fragile skin has the potential of provoking an allergic reaction.
Cradle Cap: Seborrheic Dermatitis
Cradle cap is the most harmless form of diaper rash. It often occurs on a baby’s scalp and is not irritating. The symptoms of a rash caused by seborrheic dermatitis are different than other forms of diaper rash; these rashes often appear yellowish rather than red and are more dry and scaly than bacterial diaper rashes. Doctors do not agree on the cause of cradle cap but generally, point to a fungal infection.