Can breast milk cause diaper rash?

  • By: Amanda
  • Date: July 26, 2022

You might have heard some rumours, but could it really be true? Can breast milk cause diaper rash? What’s the theory behind this misconception?

The truth is, many other things are much more likely to cause a diaper rash than breastmilk.

Breast milk: Does it Help?

Breast Milk is so much more than just nutrition! It helps relieve pain and sooth sensitive skin in infants. It not only aids the baby’s growth and thriving but is good for baby’s sensitive skin when applied directly to baby’s diaper area or to atopic dermatitis- some moms use a little breast milk applied with cotton balls in place of a barrier cream. You can also make a breast milk lotion!

Breast milk can be applied directly to the problem area. Most mothers will say this works well on irritated skin compared to other creams and other products on their shelves. However, if you suspect yeast infection, give breast milk to the rash a miss; breast milk is high in sugars and may feed the infection.

What is a Diaper Rash?

Babies can get diaper rash very easily. Baby’s symptoms can vary depending on the cause, but the rash may be red, itchy, painful or inflamed. It’s a good idea to work out the cause of the diaper rash so you can properly treat it and prevent it happening again.

Diaper dermatitis is also known as diaper rash or nappy rash, indicating inflammation of the skin in the area covered by diapers. The skin does not need to be broken down with blisters or rash to be called diaper rash. Diaper dermatitis commonly occurs in general pediatric practice.

Diaper rash affects the areas inside the diaper. Increased dampness in the diaper area exposes the skin to physical, chemical, and enzymatic mechanisms that might cause harm. Irritating compounds penetrate deeper into wet skin.

Why do Breastfed Babies get Diaper rash?

 If your baby is breastfed, he or she may rarely develop diaper rash in response to something the mother has eaten. An elimination diet can help you pinpoint the cause.

Yeast infections are also a common cause of diaper rash and can be passed between the breastfeeding mom and baby. Yeast growth thrives in the moist environment of a nappy and the sugary composition of breastmilk can also lead it to develop on baby’s mouth and moms nipples- both you and baby will need treatment if this happens.

Remember that human milk is still the best option for your baby, and that yeast infection is easily treated and generally won’t harm your baby.

What Food Causes Allergy in a Breastfed Baby?

Human breast milk typically does not cause allergic reactions in breastfeeding infants, but mothers sometimes worry that their babies may be allergic to something that they are eating and passing into their breast milk. Babies that are breastfed demonstrate an allergic reaction most often to the cow’s milk in their diet which covers two out of every one hundred babies.

In general, food allergens include cow’s milk, soy, eggs, peanuts, wheat, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

Certain types of food can aggravate her already sensitive skin and make diaper rash symptoms worse. Acidic foods are often to blame for making diaper rash worse. Foods high in fat and sugar can also be problematic. On the flip side, starchy foods can help ease diaper rash.

Symptoms of Milk Allergic Reactions

  • signs of severe colic
  • abdominal discomfort
  • skin rash such as eczema or hives or may react with vomiting
  • severe diarrhea (often with blood in the stool)
  • difficulty breathing that lasts up to several hours after breastfeeding.

Milk allergies, while uncommon, can be severe or fatal. Most babies outgrow their cow’s milk allergy, but food allergies to other substances can last a lifetime.

How Do I Know if my Baby is Allergic to a Food?

Occasionally, it is even possible for babies to have allergic reactions to foods before they start eating them. This is because they can develop allergies to the foods that the person who is breastfeeding them eats.

Pay close attention when your little one starts eating solid foods. Doctors often recommend that parents and caregivers introduce new foods to a baby one at a time. This way, if an allergy does develop, it is easier to determine which new food is responsible for the reaction.

Certain foods are more likely to cause a reaction than others, including nuts, eggs, milk and some fruits and vegetables.

Foods to Avoid if your Baby is Allergic to Milk

You must eliminate milk and all milk-containing foods from your diet. Because the milk proteins in goat and sheep’s milk are identical to those in cow’s milk, they can also cause an allergic reaction and should be avoided.

A milk protein-free diet not only means excluding all kinds of milk but also dairy products that include the following:

  • Caseinates
  • Casein
  • Curd
  • Hydrolyzed casein
  • Lactose
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Milk solids or milk sugar solids
  • Whey
  • Whey syrup sweetener

However, milk and other dairy products provide several important nutrients such as proteins, minerals especially calcium, and vitamins that are important for our bones and teeth as well as growth in children.

So it is important that you do not exclude dairy products from your diet without a confirmed diagnosis of a cows’ milk protein allergy from your GP or allergy specialist, and that you follow the advice of a registered dietitian.

How To Prevent Diaper Rash

A diaper rash is a common skin condition that can occur in infants and toddlers who wear diapers. The diaper area will have a rash that appears as a red, inflamed area on the skin and can cause pain, itching, and burning.

Diaper rash can alarm parents and annoy babies. But most minor skin conditions clear up with simple at-home treatment, such as:

Change diapers often by removing wet or dirty diapers promptly. After changing diapers, wash your hands well. Hand-washing can prevent the spread of bacteria or yeast to other parts of your baby’s body, to you, or other children.

Use a thin layer of soothing ointment or cream, allowing the area to air dry, and take a cool bath. Keep the baby’s skin as clean and dry as possible.  In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed if the rash is caused by a bacterial infection.

If you know that your baby is at risk, after cleaning the skin, use an over-the-counter skin barrier or zinc oxide cream, such as petroleum jelly. These creams do not have to be completely removed with each diaper change.

Using disposable diapers or cloth diapers is okay as long as it works for your baby because there’s no one best diaper. If one brand of disposable diaper irritates your baby’s skin, try another.  If you use cloth diapers, especially the pre-folded kind, make sure the diaper cream and oils you are using are safe to use with the cloth diaper.

Don’t wash cloth diapers with fabric softener, and double rinse if you suspect detergent residue in your diapers. Most parents welcome a nice  scent on clothing and diapers, but it’s not best for your baby’s skin!

If the rash is severe, use a squirt bottle of water to clean and rinse without rubbing. Or, it might be helpful to soak the baby’s bottom in a tub of warm water after each diaper change. Try not to use baby wipes. Let skin dry before putting a nappy back on.

Don’t overtighten diapers. Ensure you get a good fit because tight diapers prevent airflow into the diaper region, which sets up a moist environment favorable to diaper rashes. Tight diapers can also cause chafing at the waist or thighs. Give your baby’s bottom more time without a diaper.

Wash diapers in hot water with a mild detergent and bleach. Bleach kills germs. You could also add vinegar to the wash cycle to eliminate odors and rinse out soap residue. 

Change the diaper as soon as he or she wets or has a bowel movement. Clean the baby’s bottom with diaper wipes from front to back every time the diaper is changed. Your baby may be more prone to diaper rash if he or she is experiencing frequent bowel movements or diarrhea because feces are more irritating than urine.

By following these tips, you can help prevent and treat diaper rash in your child.

Breastmilk Helps

Breastmilk does appear to have healing properties that can prove beneficial when it comes to treating minor illnesses and injuries. This is due to the antibodies that breastmilk contains. It can kill off bacteria and viruses when applied topically to problematic areas because of its antibacterial properties.

Studies show breastfeeding as a preventive measure and effective treatment of some sores and infections.

Can Breast Milk Cause Diaper Rash? The Evidence Suggests that Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of Diaper Rash


Typically diaper rash appears on baby skin and reveals flakes of red skin on the back, which will be visible on the skin.

Diaper rash is often caused by wet or infrequently switched diapers, skin irritation, or chafing. It usually happens in babies though those wearing diapers often develop it. The problem can sometimes be resolved with a simple ongoing care program, like air drying, frequent diaper changes, and ointments.