Causes of Adult Diaper Rash

Caring for a loved one in their elder years means overcoming many unexpected obstacles. Adult diaper rash (also called diaper dermatitis or incontinence-associated skin damage) is one such condition that can be frustrating for everyone involved. Adult diaper rash can weaken the skin and can be painful and difficult to get rid of if it’s allowed to develop. However, a little knowledge on the nature of diaper rash will enable you to take preventative measures and worry a little less about the quality of life of your loved one.

Why It Happens

Adult diaper rash is primarily caused by three conditions: heat, moisture and friction. Wetness and warmth in the diaper area create the ideal environment for the growth of bacteria and yeast, and the presence of urine and feces makes these conditions worse. Moisture also causes rubbing, which will irritate the area and create red, tender, or fragile skin. When left untreated, a simple rash can quickly form skin sores and infections, which are considerably harder to treat. Infections can include yeast infections, psoriasis and other forms of dermatitis.


Prevention is the absolute best approach when it comes to diaper rash, and prevention means keeping the area clean.

  • Check the area frequently. Every three hours is common wisdom, as well as once a night if your loved one is easily affected by rashes.
  • Properly Clean and Dry the skin in between every change. It’s best to use pure water to rinse, but if the area is extremely soiled use a specially formulated incontinence cleanser, such as Welmedix® HomeCare PRO Adult Incontinence Cleansing Foam, or mild soap. Pat the area dry with a small cloth and wait a couple of minutes before applying the clean diaper to let it dry.
  • The Right Diaper can make all the difference. If your loved one is using cloth diapers and getting rashes, the diaper may not be absorbent enough. They may also be allergic to the detergent being used to clean the diaper. Disposable diapers often offer higher absorbency as well as moisture wicking capabilities.
  • A Good Fit means that the adult diaper fits snug enough to reduce friction, but not tight enough to trap more warmth.
  • Avoid using baby wipes made with alcohol or propylene glycol, which have a tendency to irritate fragile adult skin and spread bacteria growth.


If your loved one has developed a rash and prevention is no longer a possibility, remember that fast treatment makes for a quicker cure. It is essential to do some research and not just jump to any offered medication. Hydrocortisone or other antibiotic creams will not help a diaper rash, and the use of cornstarch as a powder can make the problem worse by feeding yeast growth. Which treatments can help?

  • A Warm Water Bath can be very soothing to your loved one’s fragile skin. Add a few tablespoons of baking soda to the water for an additional healing and soothing effect.
  • High-Quality Barrier creams specifically for adults, such as Welmedix® HomeCare PRO Fragile Skin Protective Ointment, will protect the fragile skin from moisture and friction, and promote healing.
  • Increased Fluid Intake makes urine less concentrated and therefore, less irritating to the area.
  • Rinse with a mixture of 1 ounce of vinegar to one gallon of water to shift the fragile skin’s pH balance. This can deter the development and growth of yeast.

The above listed solutions and preventative measures represent some of the most sound and common advice for taking care of a loved one with diaper rash. However, any kind of health problem or concern deserves the consultation of a health care professional. A diaper rash lasting more than three days is telling of bacteria growth, so it’s important to pay special attention to your loved one’s physical condition to effectively prevent this condition.


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