Diaper Rash vs Yeast Infection: How to Tell the Difference & Treat Both

When you’re a first-time mom, figuring out the difference between a diaper rash vs yeast infection can be difficult. From one mom to another, this article covers the different symptoms, causes, and treatment of both.

Dealing with any kind of rash is kind of a bear. Don’t worry, Mama; baby will be feeling better in no time!

Diaper Rash vs Yeast Infection in Babies (1)

It doesn’t take long for parents to become skilled in the art of diaper changing. But diaper rash? It just kind of sneak up on you, no matter what you do.

Both of my daughters experienced diaper rash when they were younger. One suffered from a recurring case of yeast infection. The other, plain ol’ diaper rash caused by the wrong product with the wrong skin type. Both were miserable. Needless to say, I had to figure out the symptoms and treatment of diaper rash vs yeast rash fairly quickly.

In this post, that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about. I hope by the end of this post you feel like you have the right tools to quickly treat your little one’s condition.


Diaper Rash vs Yeast Infection - Yeast Rash Remedies (1)

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links I will make a small commission at no charge to you. Blunders in Babyland does not diagnose, treat, or give out any professional advice for any medical conditions.

Diaper Rash vs Yeast Infection in Babies

Well, I hope this article answers that question fairly quickly. But, if you’re looking for a summary, here’s a handy-dandy table to make it easy.

Diaper RashYeast Rash
Pink, may have peeling skinRed, Shiny Skin
Goes away in a few days with treatmentRash lasts longer than three days
Usually only in the affected areaSatellite lesions on buttocks area

What is Diaper Rash and What Causes It

Diaper rashes are very common. Your little one’s rear end is in constant contact with moisture and friction–the perfect recipe for diaper rash. It’s often triggered by prolonged exposure to wetness, friction, and even certain chemicals present in diapers. 

Let’s talk about that for a minute.


Every infant’s skin is sensitive, but some more than others. That was certainly the case for my second daughter. For example, the cute frills lining the Costco Kirkland diaper gave her a rash. I couldn’t use that brand until she was about eight months old. 

Here are a couple friction-related causes for diaper rash:

  • Poop: Sometimes that rubs against junior’s skin
  • Diaper position: Ensure that the diaper isn’t too loose or tight.
  • Diaper material: Not all diapers are created equal. Look for frills or rough material.

Diarrhea is a huge cause of diaper rashes. It contains enzymes that are designed to help break down your baby’s meals. As you can imagine, it can do a number to your baby’s skin.


Did you know that urine can change your baby’s PH level? Some babies are particularly sensitive to this and require more frequent diaper changes. Once again, that was the case for my second daughter. As a newborn, we had to change her diaper within minutes of urinating or risk a reaction. 

Sometimes the culprit isn’t urine though. Water can wreck havoc on your baby’s skin (and cause yeast infection too).

Consider your baby’s bath time routine. Are you moving her straight from the bath to the diaper? If so, try letting her “air out” for a minute (lay without a diaper).

While cloth diapers are wonderful environmentally-friendly alternatives, keep in mind that your baby is more likely to develop a diaper rash while wearing them because of moisture.

If your baby is consistently suffering from diaper rashes, try changing out the insert more frequently.

Allergic Reactions

Not all diapers are created equal.

A brand that works great for your best friend’s baby may cause an allergic reaction in yours. Case-in-point, I had a friend that swore by Huggies. This same reputably brand would give my baby a diaper rash. In fact, Pampers Swaddlers were the only diapers that didn’t cause a diaper rash.

Diapers are not the only cause of allergic reactions though.

Consider your baby’s soap, detergent, and even foods. If your baby is experiencing frequent diaper rashes, you might want to consider a good fragrance-free soap. I wrote an entire article on some of my favorites, but in case you’re short on time, my favorite is this one: Baby Dove Derma Care Soothing Wash

Symptoms of Diaper Rash

Here’s a few signs you’re dealing with diaper rash as opposed to yeast infection:

  • Chafing (Skin peeling): Keep in mind that this is just your baby’s reaction to dry skin. In the early days, this was a dead giveaway that my baby was having an allergic reaction. As she grew though, she only experienced this when her diaper was rubbing her the wrong way. Your baby’s reactions might change as they grow older.
  • Redness over genitalia and rear
  • Sores (from prolonged diaper rash)
  • Discomfort during diaper changes

Diaper Rash Remedies

Zinc Oxide Creams

Creams with zinc-oxide form a protective layer around your little one’s skin, allowing it to stay dry, and most importantly, heal. My all-time favorite is Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.

Just keep in mind that diaper creams often vary in zinc oxide content and cream consistency. So, while my baby might heal overnight with Butt Paste, yours might react better to Desitin

Change Out Your  Diaper Wipes

First, you should consider ditching any wipes with fragrances. Those can aggravate your little one’s skin, making the rash worse. You can also try a water-based wipe. We had a lot of luck with those!

If all else fails, try a soft (so soft!!) washcloth with lukewarm water. 

Diaper-Free Time

Letting your little dude go diaper-free for short periods can be incredibly beneficial. Lay down a towel, choose a warm room, and let him explore without the confines of a diaper. This dries that area out naturally, preventing both diaper rashes and yeast rashes.

Even 30 seconds can help!

Coconut Oil

Looking for an all-natural product? Coconut oil is gentle and contains antimicrobial properties that can help soothe irritated skin. Applying a thin layer of organic, unrefined coconut oil can create a protective barrier and promote healing.

That said, coconut oil is incredibly gentle. Sometimes too gentle for those really bad diaper rashes.

Change Diaper Brands

Look for diapers that are known for promoting better airflow. For example, Pampers Swaddlers. Better airflow equals less humidity. Less humidity equals less diaper rashes and yeast infections.

There are a few diaper brands that advertise this feature, so don’t feel like you absolutely have to be committed to Pampers though.

Avoid Irritants and Allergens

If you’ve done all the things and your little one is still experiencing diaper rashes, you need to explore what could be causing it. Sometimes, the culprit could be food allergies. You should also avoid scented products and harsh detergents. These can contribute to irritation and exacerbate diaper rash.

What is Yeast Infection and What Causes It?

Yeast infections are caused by the fungus Candida albicans. This tiny troublemaker thrives in warm and moist environments, making your baby’s wet diaper an ideal breeding ground.

Some kids are naturally more susceptible to yeast infection. For example, they were the bane of my firstborn’s existence. On the other hand, my second daughter only developed it once. It really just depends on your kid.

Here are a few causes of a yeast rash:

  • Infrequent diaper changes: we already talked about this in the diaper rash section. When your baby’s diaper holds moisture for too long, bacteria and fungi can develop.
  • Antibiotics: Was your baby treated for an ear-infection recently? Antibiotics are known to aid in the development of yeast infections.
  • No airflow: Either your baby’s diaper is too tight or the diaper itself isn’t designed for keeping your baby’s booty dry.
  • Low-absorbency: Be strategic with your diaper brands, especially for at night, when diaper changes are less frequent. Some diaper brands simply aren’t a great choice for nighttime use.

Symptoms of Yeast Infection

Yeast infections can share the same symptoms of diaper rash, but there’s a few addition signs to look out for:

  • Bright red, shiny rash: Diaper rashes are red, but yeast rashes are really, really red and often shiny.
  • Rash that lingers: You’ve tried the cream but the redness isn’t going anywhere. That’s a good indicator of yeast infection.
  • Pain: Discomfort is one thing, pain is another. Your baby will NOT want you touching that area. Yeast infections burn and are often painful to your baby.
  • Pain while peeing: If your baby screams right after her diaper fills up, you may have a yeast infection on your hands.
  • Satellite lesions: My doctor told me this was an easy way to identify yeast infections. You’ll see little tiny bumps on your baby’s rear, or sometimes thighs and abdomen.
  • Lesions around the actual rash

How to Treat a Yeast Diaper Rash

Treating a yeast infection is never fun– for you or for baby. Before we explore some remedies, let me first caution you: be gentle. For many babies, a yeast infection can be very painful. Dab, not rub, and try to be conscious of temperature. 

Anti-Fungal Cream

For mild yeast infections, a good anti-fungal cream will do the trick. My doctor recommended Lotrimin Anti-Fungal Cream. That worked well for my firstborn. But don’t take my advice. It’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician and see what they specifically recommend. 

Plus, if your baby has a severe anti-fungal infection, your pediatrician may prescribe nystatin cream. 


Yogurt probably won’t make your baby’s yeast rash go away, but it might help prevent it in the future. Yogurt contains probiotics (lactobacilli, good bacteria) that can reduce the production of bad bacteria.

There’s a rumor on the street that you can apply a thin layer of yogurt directly to your baby’s rash as well. I’ve never tried it, so I can’t really speak to it.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I actually have tried this remedy with some success!

Apple cider vinegar contains antimicrobials that kick yeast to the curb. Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to ½ cup of water. Dip your wash cloth in the solution and dab it onto the affected area.

I would follow up with either baby diaper cream or coconut oil. Apple cider vinegar has the tendency to dry out skin. 


Chamomile, known for its calming, anti-inflammatory qualities, can soothe your baby’s irritated skin. Brew a weak chamomile tea, allow it to cool, and use a clean cloth to gently dab it to the affected area. 

Apply a Zinc Oxide Cream or Ointment

My doctor recommended applying zinc oxide cream after using anti-fungal cream. According to her, this creates a dry barrier that discourages the growth of the fungus. 

Preventing Yeast Infections

Bath Time - Diaper Free Yeast Infection

It’s easier to prevent yeast diaper rash than to deal with it! Basically, you want to follow the same concept as we talked about for diaper rashes. Make sure your baby’s diaper absorbs well and keeps your little one dry.

Try airing things out once in a while. 

Is a yeast infection dangerous?

Not usually. However, in extreme cases, the fungus can enter the bloodstream, which can make your baby sick. From what I’ve read, this usually only happens in cases where the baby has a compromised immune systems (or is a preemie) and only with severe yeast issues.

Diaper Rash vs Yeast Infection in Babies: What’s Your Experience?

I hope this comparison of diaper rashes and yeast rashes was helpful! Sometimes, it’s hard to tell, so don’t feel bad if you’re struggling. If you’re hesitant to visit your pediatrician, try calling the nurse line. Getting a second opinion never hurts!

As always, the best treatment is prevention. If you do nothing else, invest in a great diaper brand with high-absorbency and gentle materials. 

Veteran moms, if you’ve dealt with diaper rash or yeast infections, please let us know your experiences below! Your insight is gold! In the meantime, friends, check out the other baby care posts below. 

Good luck, Mama!


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