Intertrigo (Diaper Rash) in Children: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Intertrigo in children, also commonly known as diaper rash, is a common skin irritation that occurs when the skin in two opposing folds rubs together and becomes moist. This friction and moisture create the perfect environment for bacteria and fungus to thrive, leading to inflammation and a rash.

Causes of Intertrigo in Children:

  • Friction: Skin rubbing against skin is the main culprit behind intertrigo. In babies, this often happens in the diaper area due to the constant movement of their legs and the presence of wet or dirty diapers.
  • Moisture: Trapped moisture from sweat, urine, or stool can soften the skin and make it more susceptible to irritation. In children, this is particularly common in the diaper area, underarm folds, and neck folds.
  • Infection: Although not always present, bacteria and fungus can easily take advantage of the warm, moist environment in skin folds and cause secondary infections, worsening the rash.
  • Other factors: Certain conditions like obesity, poor hygiene, and diarrhea can increase the risk of intertrigo in children.

Symptoms of Intertrigo in Children:

  • Redness and irritation: The affected skin will appear red and inflamed, often with a well-defined border.
  • Rash: The rash may be bumpy, scaly, or have small blisters.
  • Pain or discomfort: The area may be sore or feel tender to the touch, especially when rubbed.
  • Oozing or crusting: In severe cases, the rash may weep clear fluid or develop crusts.

Treatment of Intertrigo in Children:

  • Mild cases: For mild intertrigo, good hygiene practices are often enough to clear the rash. This includes frequent diaper changes, thorough cleaning and drying of the affected area, and allowing the skin to air out as much as possible. Using barrier creams like zinc oxide ointment can also help protect the skin and prevent further irritation.
  • Moderate or severe cases: If the rash is moderate or severe, or if there is a suspected infection, a doctor may recommend additional treatment. This may include topical antifungal or antibiotic creams, and in some cases, oral medication.

Prevention of Intertrigo in Children:

  • Frequent diaper changes: Change diapers as soon as they are wet or soiled to prevent prolonged exposure to moisture.
  • Thorough cleaning and drying: Gently cleanse the diaper area with warm water and a mild soap after each diaper change, and pat the skin dry thoroughly.
  • Air exposure: Allow the diaper area to air out as much as possible, especially during diaper changes.
  • Barrier creams: Use a barrier cream like zinc oxide ointment at each diaper change to protect the skin.
  • Proper diaper fit: Make sure diapers fit snugly but comfortably to avoid excessive friction.
  • Address underlying conditions: If your child has a condition like diarrhea or obesity that contributes to intertrigo, addressing the underlying condition can help prevent future flare-ups.

By following these tips, you can help prevent intertrigo in your child and keep their skin healthy and comfortable. However, if you notice any signs of intertrigo, it is important to consult a doctor to get proper diagnosis and treatment.


  • Early diagnosis and treatment of intertrigo is important to prevent complications and discomfort for your child.
  • Never use over-the-counter steroid creams on your child’s diaper area without first consulting a doctor.
  • If you have any concerns about your child’s skin health, always consult a doctor.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

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