Symptoms of diaper rash (nappy rash)

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Diaper or nappy rash may affect one in four babies worldwide between ages 6 months to up to 18 months (commonly between 9 and 12 months of age). The symptoms of nappy rash vary depending on the severity of the condition. Most cases of nappy rash only produce mild symptoms.

This type of rash is confined to the area covered by the nappy. There is commonly a closed area of red or pink rash over the convex surfaces of the buttocks and pubic area. These are areas of skin in closest contact with the nappy. The groin folds are commonly spared. 1-4

Mild nappy rash symptoms

In babies with mild nappy rash there is usually the beginning of the pathology:

  • the rash is usually pink or red spots or blotches

  • the rash is confined to a very small part of the nappy area.

  • the child feels generally well and may experience a stinging sensation when passing urine or faeces. This is expressed as the baby crying out loud while passing urine or stool and remaining generally well and playful at other times.

Severe nappy rash symptoms

In case of an more advanced from of nappy rash there may be accompanying pain and itchiness:

  • the area is extensive and may extend below to the legs or above to the abdomen

  • there are bright red and large spots

  • the skin may be dry, broken and cracked in appearance - there may be a bumpy feel and often sores may bleed as well

  • some babies may develop ulcers (open sores), blisters (fluid filled swellings) and generalized swelling of the nappy area

  • the baby is usually irritable and may cry as the rash is painful, burning and itchy

Immediate medical attention may be needed if there are additional features like fever, refusal to feed, diarrhoea, pus filled spots etc. these could indicate a more severe infection.

Other conditions leading to rash in the diaper areas

Other conditions that lead to a rash in the diaper area include bacterial infections, Jacquet erosive dermatitis and so forth.

Bacterial infections

Those with bacterial infections like that with Staphylococcus aureus present with bullous impetigo. There are blisters and pus filled raised spots over the affected area.

Group A Streptococcus infection leads to a red rash around the anus. Other bacteris like E. coli may lead to pain on urination (manifested as the infant crying when passing urine) and vaginal itching, and vulvar inflammation.

Infections with Coxsackie virus causes raised flat red spots buttocks, palms and soles. There may also be open sores at the back of the throat.

Herpes is characterized by painful vesicles in the vulva and area around the anus. Babies with parasitic infestations with pinworms and scabies have intense itching. Scabies also affects other parts of the body like webs of fingers and toes, armpits and groin folds.

Jacquet erosive dermatitis

Those with diaper rash following diarrhoea are said to have Jacquet erosive dermatitis. This is the most severe form of diaper dermatitis and can occur in older babies as well. There are open red sores which are well-demarcated, punched out with raised borders.

Other conditions

Granuloma gluteale infantum occurs due to irritation and secondary infection with reddish purple spots.

Psoriasis shows well-demarked red flat sores. Normally psoriasis shows up with white scarrings and dry patches. This is not seen in diaper areas because of the wetness.

Seborrheic dermatitis shows a yellowish scales over the affected area. Other parts of the body like the head, neck, ears and eyebrows are also affected commonly.

Further Reading

Last Updated: May 29, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, May 29). Symptoms of diaper rash (nappy rash). News-Medical. Retrieved on May 28, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Symptoms of diaper rash (nappy rash)". News-Medical. 28 May 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Symptoms of diaper rash (nappy rash)". News-Medical. (accessed May 28, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. Symptoms of diaper rash (nappy rash). News-Medical, viewed 28 May 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.