Can a cold cause diaper rash?

  • By: Julie Miller
  • Time to read: 6 min.

It’s that time of year again when everyone is getting sick. And if you’re a parent, that means your baby is probably coming down with something too. One of the most common symptoms of a cold in babies is diaper rashes. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of this and how to treat it.

Yes, a cold can cause a diaper rash. Many things can cause a cold, but one of the most common is a viral infection. When your baby has a cold, their body is trying to fight off the virus and this can lead to inflammation and irritation in the diaper area. This can then lead to a diaper rash.

Can a virus cause a diaper rash?

Yes, a viral rash (viral exanthem), is when viruses cause a diaper rash. The viruses that cause a viral rash are the same ones that cause colds, such as adenoviruses, coxsackieviruses, and enteroviruses.

Do cloth diapers and baby wipes cause diaper rash?

There is nothing to suggest that cloth diapers and wipes cause diaper rash. If you are concerned about a possible link, just make sure to carefully sanitise diapers to remove any residue, either laundry or dirt. Strip washing diapers is an effective way to ensure your diapers are thoroughly clean and good to go!

What Does a Viral Rash Look Like on a Baby’s skin?

A viral rash on a baby can look like many things. It can be bright red skin, blotchy, or even have small bumps. It can show up anywhere on the body but is most commonly seen on the face, chest, and back.

This is usually not itchy or painful and will go away on its own within a few days. However, if the diaper rash is accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, it is important to see a doctor right away.

What Can Be Mistaken for Diaper Rash?

There are a few skin conditions that can be mistaken for it. One is seborrheic dermatitis, which causes scaly, dry patches on the skin. Another common form is atopic dermatitis, which is also known as eczema.

This condition causes a form of inflamed skin (dermatitis) that appears as a patchwork of bright red spots, itchy patches on the skin. Speak to your doctor if concerned that your baby may be affected.

What Causes Sudden Diaper Rash?

Many things can cause your baby to develop a diaper rash. One of the most common causes is a reaction to the moist environment created by wet or soiled diapers and a rash is a common sign of teething too.

But other things, such as allergies, dry skin, infection, and even exposure to cold weather that leads to fever, can also lead to this uncomfortable condition. Most babies with sensitive skin also can develop rashes.

What do I do if diaper rash becomes severe?

If you notice that your baby’s diaper rash seems to be getting severe, or if it’s not responding to your usual home treatment, it’s important to seek medical advice. In some cases, diaper rash can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a bacterial infection. Rashes after introduction of solid foods can indicate sensitivity.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help soothe your baby’s skin. Be sure to change wet or soiled dirty diaper promptly, and apply a barrier cream or ointment on area covered when changing diapers.

How to Treat Diaper Rash Caused by a Cold?

Most diaper rashes go away on their own. Because they’re caused by viruses, antibiotics won’t help speed recovery. When a baby takes antibiotics, bacteria that keep yeast infection growth in check may be depleted, resulting in diaper rash due to yeast infection. Antibiotic use also increases the risk of diarrhea. The best thing you can do is to keep your child comfortable.

The first step for treating diaper rash caused by a cold is to make sure your baby’s bottom and genital area are clean and dry at every diaper change. Use warm water to wash and diaper wipes to do this, or use a washcloth if the baby’s skin isn’t too sensitive and pat the skin dry. Don’t scrub the sensitive skin, which can irritate the diaper rash and cause open sores.

In between cloth diapers change, apply petroleum jelly or zinc oxide – don’t use cornstarch-based products or baking soda, as they can make the diaper rash on irritated skin worse. Your baby’s doctor might give you a fungal medicine or a mild steroid cream to apply to baby’s skin in the diaper region.

Natural ways to soothe rashes

Lay your baby on a large towel on the floor to allow air to circulate. Babies love this, and the break for wearing a diaper promotes healing of rashes too. It may sound odd, but many parents also swear by shampoo clay to treat rash too!

How to Prevent Diaper Rash?

There are many things you can do to prevent diaper rash in babies and reduce their risk for exposure and infection in the diaper region, including:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after you change diapers to avoid germs.
  • Change baby’s diaper often, and as soon as possible after they have urine or stool. If disposable diapers irritate the skin then try using cloth diapers instead.
  • At around 6 months, it can also help to offer solids to change the texture of baby’s poop- slowly introduce new foods to baby’s diet and keep an eye out for changes to their diapers.
  • Avoid using baby wipes that contain alcohol, fragrance, or other harsh chemicals to remove traces of stool on baby’s skin. Use water wipes or cloth wipes at each diaper change.
  • Use warm water and an unscented, mild soap to gently clean your baby’s bottom of any stool or urine. You can also soak your baby’s bottom skin between diaper changes with warm water.
  • Gently pat dry the baby’s skin.
  • Avoid using fabric softeners and dryer sheets — even these can irritate skin

In the meantime, take steps to prevent the spread of the virus by washing your hands often and avoiding close contact with your baby’s skin. Diaper rash can be uncomfortable for your babies, but with proper care, it will clear up quickly. If not, speak to your doctor.

When To Seek Medical Advice

Most colds in infants get better without treatment, but you should seek advice from your child’s doctor if:

  • Your baby is under three months old and has a temperature of 38°C
  • The diaper rash is causing pain.
  • The diaper rash doesn’t turn white or lighten up when you apply pressure to it. Try using the bottom of a clear tumbler to gently apply pressure. If the rash remains after you press down on the tumbler, it could indicate bleeding under the skin, which is a medical emergency.
  • Your child seems not in the mood or isn’t taking breastmilk or formula, or drinking water.
  • There’s bruising or small ulcers with the diaper rash.
  • Your child has a fever in conjunction with the diaper rash.
  • The diaper rash doesn’t improve after a few days.
  • Stool is very loose and hasn’t improved within a few days, especially if you notice a reduction in wet diapers.


If your child develops a diaper rash, the best therapy is to manage the symptoms and keep your baby comfortable until the virus clears up. Over-the-counter pain medications and soothing baths will help them relax, but avoid scented baby lotions and soaps.

Diaper free time is a great idea, and also keep a note of any new foods, medications or skin products that may have contributed to the rash.

Always ensure to change diapers frequently, even more so if you child has a rash. If using cloth diapers and baby wipes, ensure that they are thoroughly washed at 60 while your little one is unwell.

With these simple steps, you should see improvement in the condition of your child’s skin in just a few days. Don’t hesitate to seek further advice if that is not the case.

And remember….

Always consult with a doctor if concerned about your child’s diaper rash- your doctor would prefer to check out the rash and set your mind at rest.

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Cloth Diapers