Diaper Rash, Candida (Infant/Toddler)

Front and back views of baby showing common areas for Candida rash to form.
Areas where Candida diaper rash can form.

Candida is type of yeast. It grows best in warm, moist areas. It is common for Candida to grow in the skin folds under a child’s diaper. When there is an overgrowth of Candida, it can cause a rash called a Candida diaper rash.

The entire area under the diaper may be bright red. The borders of the rash may be raised. There may be smaller patches that blend in with the larger rash. The rash may have small bumps and pimples filled with pus. The scrotum in boys may be very red and scaly. The area will itch and cause the child to be fussy.

Candida diaper rash is most often treated with over-the-counter antifungal cream or ointment. The rash should clear a few days after starting the medicine. Infections that don’t go away may need a prescription medicine. In rare cases, a bacterial infection can also occur.

Home care

Medicines

Your child’s healthcare provider will recommend an antifungal cream or ointment for the diaper rash. He or she may also prescribe a medicine to help relieve itching. Follow all instructions for giving these medicines to your child. Apply a thick layer of cream or ointment on the rash. It can be left on the skin between diaper changes. You can apply more cream or ointment on top, if the area is clean.

General care

Follow these tips when caring for your child:

  • Be sure to wash your hands well with soap and warm water before and after changing your child’s diaper and applying any medicine.

  • Check for soiled diapers regularly. Change your child’s diaper as soon as you notice it is soiled. Gently pat the area clean with a warm, wet soft cloth. If you use soap, it should be gentle and scent-free. Topical barriers such as zinc oxide paste or petroleum jelly can be liberally applied to help prevent urine and stool contact with the skin.

  • Change your child’s diaper at least once at night. Put the diaper on loosely. 

  • Use a breathable cover for cloth diapers instead of rubber pants. Slit the elastic legs or cover of a disposable diaper in a few places. This will allow air to reach your child’s skin. Note: Disposable diapers may be preferred until the rash has healed.

  • Allow your child to go without a diaper for periods of time. Exposing the skin to air will help it to heal.

  • Don’t over clean the affected skin areas. This can irritate the skin further. Also don’t apply powders such as talc or cornstarch to the affected skin areas. Talc can be harmful to a child’s lungs. Cornstarch can cause the Candida infection to get worse.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as directed.

When to seek medical advice

Unless your child's healthcare provider advises otherwise, call the provider right away if:

  • Your child has a fever (see Fever and children, below)

  • Your child is fussier than normal or keeps crying and can't be soothed.

  • Your child’s symptoms worsen, or they don’t get better with treatment.

  • Your child develops new symptoms such as blisters, open sores, raw skin, or bleeding.

  • Your child has unusual or foul-smelling drainage in the affected skin areas.

Fever and children

Always use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Never use a mercury thermometer.

For infants and toddlers, be sure to use a rectal thermometer correctly. A rectal thermometer may accidentally poke a hole in (perforate) the rectum. It may also pass on germs from the stool. Always follow the product maker’s directions for proper use. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a rectal temperature, use another method. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which method you used to take your child’s temperature.

Here are guidelines for fever temperature. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.

Infant under 3 months old:

  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead (temporal artery) temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child age 3 to 36 months:

  • Rectal, forehead (temporal artery), or ear temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child of any age:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under 2 years old. Or a fever that lasts for 3 days in a child 2 years or older.

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