What Causes Diaper Rashes To Get Worse?

Updated: March 12, 2024 | Published:

Wet or soiled diapers, skin sensitivities, and chafing are the main causes of diaper rash. But other factors can make the problem even worse. Let’s take a look at some of the most common culprits.

Not changing the diaper enough

Not changing the diaper enough

Changing your baby’s diapers too little or not frequently enough can cause dry skin and red, itchy rashes that may worsen when sitting up. This happens because babies with tight balls of fat develop thicker protective layers of skin as they grow.

These thickened skin cells take longer to shed, so you must work more quickly to strip off this extra layer. When there is no such layer, the soft, protected tissue gets exposed to air, which makes it more likely to become irritated or infected.

This could happen by rubbing against bedding while sleeping, being hit by fluids like urine or milk, or having direct contact with a source of infection like a dirty finger or crib toy.

It is important to make sure your baby is completely dried after each change and check for signs of wetness in the diaper (this would show if the diaper was accidentally left behind). Also, ensure the diaper isn’t twisted, which could hurt the baby’s sensitive skin.

Bad diaper

Changing diapers can be a frustrating experience, especially if you have to do it in places like public toilets or bathrooms that don’t have proper amenities.

Diapers not washed with hot water or dried using an infant-sized lint roller can contribute to skin rashes because they stick to the child’s skin.

Chemicals from the feces may also cause irritation or allergic reactions. This is called fecal contact dermatitis.

Bad hygiene underpins poor health in developing countries, but unfortunately, it is also very common in developed countries due to a lack of sanitation.

Change your diaper style frequently, as thick, heavy cloth diapers warm up more quickly than thin plastic ones. Use a powder popper to dry wet clothes and a burping bag. This will help reduce bacterial growth and eliminate infectious agents such as bacteria.

Read: Types of Diaper Rash

Bad diaper cream

Recent studies show that many of our current diaper cream brands are not safe. They can even make your rash get worse! Companies have marketed their products as more protective or better than others, but unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Some contain irritating chemicals such as phthalates that cause rashes. Phthalate skin irritants come from plastic packaging materials that diapering systems include.

Manufacturers claim these chemicals help dry out wet baby tissue, but research shows they do the opposite.

They may also interfere with water absorption in the body, making it take longer for your child’s skin to rehydrate. This could be particularly important in hot weather when overheating is a risk factor for infantile eczema.

Diaper creams containing alcohol can sometimes work by drying out the skin. Still, most don’t confirm whether their ingredients are truly effective until they have been applied to a human test group.

Too much cream

When your baby has a diaper rash, it is important to ensure that you are not using too many products on them! Products can contain chemicals such as preservatives or fat, which could cause his skin to become more easily irritated.

Many parents feel like they have to use lots of products because their kids seem to be in constant need of new diapers and wipes, but trying to avoid overdoing it on things such as lotion can make matters worse.

Too much oil or wetness can promote dry skin and irritation, making the rashes worse. It also may contribute to poor hygiene and potential infection.

Wet diaper

Wet Diaper

When your baby needs to go, they usually tell you when they are wet. But what if their state of undress does not seem like normal pre-bath activity?

If you notice that your child is more than just slightly damp, it’s important to check their diapers for any signs of redness or irritation. This could be due to a rash, poison ivy exposure, urine coming in contact with the skin, or dry skin from being too hot or cold.

Diapers that don’t fit properly can also contribute to excessive moisture. These things may cause inflammation, which could worsen the problem.

Diaper rays can often go away on their own, but making sure your baby is completely dried off after each potty trip and using thinner cloth diapers or cotton ones can help prevent irritation. You should also read about the advantages and disadvantages of using a diaper.

Washing your baby too much

When you wash your child in hot water or use very warm washing products, their skin can become dry even more quickly. This can cause your baby’s sensitive skin to overreact to the drying effect and become itchy or irritated.

Studies show that nearly half of all infants develop some diaper rash during their first year. Almost one-third suffer from frequent rashes that require treatment several times a week.

Fortunately, most rashes go away within two weeks as your body washes out natural oils that help keep the skin protected.

Skincare products

Recent studies suggest that some skin care products can worsen diaper rashes! If using these product categories, try looking for ones with low irritant scores.

Irritants can increase inflammation in your skin, so look for products with lower irritation levels. Unfortunately, most beauty brands do not list ingredient numbers or warn about potential side effects of their products, so it is up to you to do research.

It is important to note that just because a product claims to be “allergy-fighting” does NOT mean that it has no risk of causing an allergic reaction. Check labels carefully and read reviews before investing in such products.


Several things can make diaper rash worse. To prevent irritation, promptly change wet or soiled diapers, pat the area dry instead of rubbing it, and use hypoallergenic products if necessary. If unsure what’s causing your baby’s diaper rash, consult your pediatrician for advice.

Read: Lullaby Lyrics

About Amy T. Smith

Amy is a mother, writer, and your go-to expert for real-life insights into parenting, health, and lifestyle. Amy holds a Master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University and prides herself on finding actionable tips and relatable tales.

Through her blog, AmyandRose, she supports you from pregnancy to the teenage years, offering assurance that your experiences are shared.

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