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Diaper dermatitis, or diaper rash, is an irritation of the skin that occurs on the area covered by a diaper, including the bottom, thighs, abdomen, or genital area. This is also known as incontinence associated dermatitis, or skin irritation caused by urine or feces.
Diaper dermatitis is common in babies and toddlers, especially in infants between 9 and 12 months old. However, diaper dermatitis can occur at any age. Diaper rash can cause pain and discomfort. If left untreated, infection can develop.
Signs of diaper dermatitis include small pink or red dots, redness, inflamed skin, or blisters. Skin may be itchy or painful.
ABC’s of Diaper Rash Prevention and Treatment
Diaper rash occurs as skin is exposed to moisture, friction, urine and feces, and other skin irritants. Factors that contribute to diaper dermatitis include:
During cancer, children have additional risk factors for diaper dermatitis. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy may contribute to diaper dermatitis due to excretion in urine or stool. Radiation therapy may also may also make skin more sensitive and susceptible to irritation. The use of steroid medications or having a compromised immune system can also increase risk.
Older children may have a loss of bladder or bowel control (incontinence) due to illness, medications, or disease. These patients may need to wear diapers or “pull-ups,” increasing risk for incontinence associated dermatitis.
Treatment for diaper dermatitis depends on symptoms, age of the child, health, and severity of the rash. Be sure to let the care team know about any signs of skin irritation. Check with a care team member before using any product on the skin.
A doctor may recommend diaper rash treatments including:
During cancer, it is important to be take steps to prevent diaper dermatitis.
Rashes in the diaper area can result from a variety of causes. It can be hard to tell one type of rash from another, but they may require different treatment.
Other rashes may include allergic reactions, seborrhea, and bacterial infection.
Contact a provider if the child:
Reviewed: June 2018