Can A Diaper Rash Spread?

  • By: Amanda
  • Date: July 26, 2022

A diaper rash can be incredibly uncomfortable for your baby and frustrating to treat.

Not only is a diaper rash painful and irritating for your little one, but it can also be quite contagious. If left untreated, the rash can spread to other parts of the body and become even more difficult to get rid of. This can happen if the rash is a bacterial infection or a fungal infection.

What is diaper dermatitis?

Diaper dermatitis basically refers to inflammation of the skin in the diaper area. Diaper dermatitis is a diaper rash caused by exposure to feces and urine. When your baby’s skin comes in contact with these substances, allergens are released that can irritate the skin. That’s why it’s important to change diapers often and thoroughly cleanse the area when you do.

There are three different types of diaper dermatitus and generally only Candida (thrush) or bacterial infections types of diaper rash can spread. Read our guide to the different types of diaper rash here.

What causes diaper dermatitis?

As mentioned above, the cause of diaper dermatitis is usually due to contact with stool and urine. The longer the urine and feces are in contact with your baby’s skin, the greater the chance for developing a diaper rash so it’s vital to change diapers frequently.

A diaper rash can be very uncomfortable for your baby. It can even make him cry when he has a bowel movement because of the pain and discomfort that comes with it.

How is diaper dermatitis diagnosed?

Because diaper dermatitis is simply a variant of other types of rashes, its diagnosis can be difficult. Your doctor will usually consider your baby’s age and medical history before making a definitive diagnosis.

He may also try to rule out other skin conditions by performing a physical examination, which includes looking at the rash under special lights. He might even take a small tissue sample (a biopsy) of the affected skin for examination under the microscope.

What are the symptoms of diaper dermatitis?

The first symptom is usually redness on your baby’s bottom, but there may also be yellow or brownish scales present on top of this reddened area. If you notice these symptoms, it’s important to clean the affected area and change your baby’s diaper frequently.

The symptoms of a diaper rash can vary from being mild to quite severe, depending on how long it has been present and its severity. If your child is in discomfort or shows signs of other symptoms, you should contact his pediatrician immediately for treatment advice.

What are the symptoms of diaper dermatitis?

The symptoms of diaper dermatitis vary depeing on the severity of the rash. Milder cases may result in mild redness and inflammation, while more severe diaper rashes can cause sores, blisters, oozing or crusting fluid and even scarring.

If your child is uncomfortable or showing other signs of infection (such as fever, vomiting) you should contact your pediatric pending on the cause. And symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:

  • Contact dermatitis from diaper use can cause a bright red complexion and shiny, inflamed skin. The rash may affect your babies buttocks or thighs in addition to other areas such as the belly (abdomen) and waistlin
  • Candida diaper dermatitis. When a baby has candida diaper dermatitis, their skin is very red and painful. There may also be an infection in the mouth (thrush) or on creases of thighs and around diapers area.
  • Seborrheic diaper dermatitis. The skin is often red, with yellowish oily patches that can be seen on the face or neck. It also commonly affects other parts of your body like scalp and elbows at times too! This is the type of diaper rash which will spread.

How is diaper dermatitis treated?

The treatment for a mild case of diaper dermatitis is simply frequent diaper changes. Keep your baby’s bottom dry and clean because moisture can worsen the rash. You might also apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to help relieve the itching, especially at night. Always wash your hands at diaper change time and let your baby go without a diaper for periods in the day.

For more serious cases, is diaper dermatitis treated with topical antifungal medications. They are used to treat the yeast infection associated with candida diaper dermatitis. Your baby might also be prescribed an oral antibiotic if he has an infection caused by bacteria.

How to Prevent diaper dermatitis

How can you help prevent your baby from having a case of diaper rash? Change his dirty diapers as soon as you can. When he’s wet or soiled, his skin can become irritated and red within seconds. Clean the area with warm water and apply a topical cream or ointment like zinc oxide.

Dry your baby properly after every bath. Use a clean towel to pat him dry rather than rubbing his skin which can irritate it more. Then apply an ointment to keep the moisture off.

If you have a yeast diaper rash, ensure that if using cloth diapers they are thoroughly sterilised between uses and use an antifungal cream.

Diaper dermatitus is common in babies taking antibiotics or when they start solid foods. They may have an allergic reaction to new foods or just a reaction as their digestive system struggles to cope with the new foods and their bowel movements become more irregular.

Can a diaper rashes spread from the diaper area to all over the body?

The good news is that diaper rashes cannot generally spread from the diaper area to all over the body. However, if your baby has a yeast infection in his mouth (thrush) this can cause a generalized breakout, and it can affect his whole body and not just the diaper. If your baby shows any signs of a generalized yeast infection, or if his rash doesn’t improve with treatment, you should talk to your pediatrician immediately.

What causes diaper dermatitis?

Contact diaper dermatitis is usually caused by a reaction to urine and feces irritating the skin. Some babies are more sensitive than others. Candida diaper dermatitis is caused by yeast, which thrives in moist conditions.

Seborrheic diaper dermatitis can be caused by a combination of yeast and bacteria. If it has spread to the folds of the skin outside the diaper area, it may be infected with both types of organisms.

How do you stop a diaper rash from spreading?

You can prevent a diaper rash from spreading by making sure your baby’s bottom stays clean and dry. If your baby is wearing a disposable diaper, change it as soon as it’s wet or soiled. This will keep the skin dry and help to avoid future rashes.

Will Cloth Diapers Make A Rash Spread?

No, if you use cloth diapers then your child is at no more risk of a diaper rash or a rash spreading than if you use disposable diapers.

The Bottom Line on Can Diaper Rashes Spread?

Generally, a diaper rash will not spread unless it is a bacterial or fungal infection. If you don’t treat the diaper rash and it gets worse, it can become a bacterial infection and can spread. To avoid this treat any rashes in the diaper area straight away, allow your babies skin to air dry before you put on a fresh diaper, use a soft cloth when changing and keep the area clean. Consider using a cream that contains zinc oxide or check out our natural home remedies for treating diaper rash for some more natural treatments. If the rash does not clear up in 2 to 3 days consider seeking medical advice.