Diaper Dermatitis: Causes and How to Prevent It

Posted on January 25 2023

All newborns have very sensitive and delicate skin that is also extraordinarily thin and permeable. Because of this, some babies seem to be more prone than others to develop diaper dermatitis.

Diaper dermatitis is the most common skin condition in babies, occurring most frequently between 9 and 12 months of age. Depending on the country and hygiene practices, the prevalence of diaper dermatitis is estimated to be between 7% and 50%.


The main factors that contribute to this condition are:

Excess moisture trapped in the diaper, promoting the growth of bacteria and fungi.
Allergy to diaper components, primarily chemicals.
Friction in the affected area due to the use of wet wipes with soaps and/or perfumes.
Prolonged contact of the area with urine.
Additionally, some diapers are more prone than others to cause this condition. The main contributing factors are:
Diapers that do not absorb well, whether cloth or disposable.
Single-use diapers are generally highly likely to retain heat and moisture, creating an ideal environment for yeast and bacteria to thrive.
While not all cases of dermatitis are the same, the main forms of diaper dermatitis are:


This is the first and most common form, which can be caused by increased skin moisture, high alkaline skin pH, the mixture of urine and feces, or friction between the skin and the diaper.


Infections caused by fungi and bacteria, especially Candida albicans - a yeast commonly present in children's feces - is the second most common infectious cause when the diaper area has lesions.

Controlled microbiological studies have shown that diapers with a lower risk of infectious dermatitis are breathable diapers, as they inhibit the survival of Candida albicans.


This is the least common and can be due to allergic contact dermatitis, caused by certain components of the diaper, particularly when they are chemical components.

The main chemical compounds identified as causing allergic contact dermatitis are mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT), cyclohexylthiophthalimide, p-tert-butylphenol formaldehyde resin, dispersed dyes, and non-dispersed dyes.


To ensure your baby avoids uncomfortable situations like diaper dermatitis, consider the following attributes of optimal diaper hygiene before making a choice. The aim is to provide you and your baby with greater safety and peace of mind:

ANTIMICROBIAL. This is definitely the most favorable quality for preventing and caring for diaper dermatitis as it inhibits the growth of yeast and bacteria.

SUPER AND ULTRA ABSORPTION. The most basic yet essential characteristic. If the diaper does not absorb well, the moisture level will be very high. Prolonged exposure to urine could cause more than just skin irritation. Therefore, it's important for the diaper to offer good absorption capacity.

MOISTURE CONTROL. This feature allows moisture to be bound and released to the outside, keeping the baby warm even when the diaper is slightly wet. Many times, you can tell if a diaper lacks moisture control when it easily turns urea from urine into ammonia. This, in turn, increases the skin's pH level, reducing the skin barrier.

In short, if the diaper smells of ammonia, it lacks moisture control, making it more likely to cause skin irritation with use.

BREATHABLE. The higher the level of breathability in a diaper, the lower the risk of infection. Breathable skin is healthy skin.

When choosing a diaper with this feature, consider the technical information about the materials and benefits for skin contact.

HYPOALLERGENIC. Allergy-free diapers are safer to use on babies and children due to their low risk of causing allergic reactions.

SAFE MATERIALS. Primarily child safety, as choosing skin-safe products for babies guarantees greater peace of mind and confidence.

EASY CLEANING. In cloth diapers, it's assumed that all diapers are washable. However, what no one tells you is how clean the diaper can actually get after washing. We're not referring to the type of detergent, but rather, does the diaper's design allow for thorough cleaning without complications? A well-designed diaper prevents small solid residues from getting stuck and improves the cleaning experience without complications.


TIP 1: Change the baby constantly or before the diaper reaches its maximum absorption capacity.

TIP 2: Change the diaper after each meal, as this is when the diaper tends to get dirtiest.

TIP 3: Gently clean the buttocks with a cloth and warm water (without soap) during each change. Handle the skin gently and without friction. Before putting on the diaper, make sure the skin is dry and fresh.

TIP 4: Occasionally apply protective ointments like Lanolin, which act as moisturizers for the skin.

TIP 5: Occasionally let the baby have sun baths without a diaper and let the wind circulate between their legs. Consider the intensity of the sun, but ideally, 5 to 15 minutes a day is recommended to avoid harming their skin.