The Surprising Link Between Teething and Diaper Rash!

May 28, 2024

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As a parent, you’re probably familiar with the challenges that come with a teething baby – the fussiness, drooling, and sleepless nights. But did you know that teething can also be linked to another common issue in infants – diaper rash? While teething itself doesn’t directly cause diaper rash, there are some surprising connections between these two conditions that every parent should be aware of.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the relationship between teething and diaper rash, including:

  • The symptoms of teething and how they differ from diaper rash
  • How increased saliva production during teething can contribute to diaper rash
  • Practical tips for preventing diaper rash during the teething phase
  • Home remedies and over-the-counter treatments for soothing teething pain and diaper rash
  • Signs of a severe diaper rash and when to see a doctor

By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and tools to help your little one navigate this challenging stage as comfortably as possible. Let’s get started!

Understanding the Teething Process

Teething is a normal developmental milestone that typically begins around 6 months of age, though it can start as early as 3 months or as late as 12 months[1]. During this time, your baby’s primary teeth (also known as baby teeth or milk teeth) are pushing through the gums, which can cause discomfort and irritability.

Some common teething symptoms include[7]:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Chewing or gnawing on objects
  • Swollen, tender gums
  • Fussiness and irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Slightly elevated temperature (less than 100.4°F)
  • Decreased appetite

It’s important to note that while teething can cause some discomfort, it should not cause high fever, diarrhea, or severe illness. If your baby is experiencing these symptoms, it’s best to consult with your pediatrician as there may be another underlying cause.

The Teething and Diaper Rash Connection

So how exactly are teething and diaper rash linked? The main culprit is the excess saliva produced during the teething process. As your baby’s teeth begin to erupt, their salivary glands kick into overdrive, leading to drooling and skin irritation around the mouth, cheeks, and neck (often referred to as a teething rash or drool rash).

But the effects of all that extra saliva don’t stop there. When swallowed, it can also lead to loose stools or diarrhea, which are more acidic and irritating to your baby’s delicate skin. This, combined with prolonged exposure to moisture in the diaper area, creates the perfect environment for diaper rash to develop[1].

It’s worth noting that not all experts agree on the direct link between teething and diarrhea. Some believe that the increased saliva from teething alters the balance of digestive fluids, while others attribute the change in stool consistency to other factors like changes in diet or exposure to new germs from chewing on objects[1].

Regardless of the exact mechanism, it’s clear that the teething period can make your baby more susceptible to developing diaper rash. So what can you do to prevent and treat it? Keep reading to find out.

Preventing Diaper Rash During Teething

The key to preventing diaper rash is keeping your baby’s skin as clean and dry as possible. Here are some tips to help minimize irritation during the teething phase:

  1. Change diapers frequently. With the increase in drool and loose stools, it’s important to change your baby’s diaper as soon as it becomes wet or soiled to prevent prolonged contact with moisture and irritants. Aim for checking and changing at least every 2 hours during the day and once at night[4].
  2. Use hypoallergenic, fragrance-free products. Choose diapers and wipes that are free of harsh chemicals, dyes, and fragrances which can further irritate sensitive skin. Look for products labeled “hypoallergenic” or “sensitive skin”[5].
  3. Gently clean the diaper area. Use warm water and a soft washcloth or cotton balls to thoroughly clean your baby’s bottom at each diaper change, being sure to get into all the creases. Pat the skin dry or allow to air dry before applying a fresh diaper. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing the skin which can cause further irritation[4].
  4. Apply a barrier cream. After cleaning and drying, apply a thick layer of a zinc oxide or petroleum jelly-based diaper cream to create a protective barrier between your baby’s skin and any irritants. Look for creams with at least 40% zinc oxide for maximum protection[5].
  5. Give your baby some diaper-free time. Allowing your baby’s skin to air out can help speed up healing of any existing rash and prevent new irritation from developing. Place a waterproof pad or towel on the floor and let your little one enjoy some nappy-free playtime for a few minutes each day[4].
  6. Consider breathable diaper options. If your baby seems prone to rashes, try switching to more breathable diaper brands or opting for cloth diapers which allow for more airflow. Just be sure to change cloth diapers very frequently and wash them in hypoallergenic detergents[5].

By implementing these preventive measures consistently, you can help minimize the occurrence and severity of teething-related diaper rash. However, even with the best prevention strategies, some rashes may still develop. In the next section, we’ll cover how to effectively treat diaper rash at home.

Treating Diaper Rash Caused by Teething

If despite your best efforts at prevention, your baby develops a diaper rash, don’t worry. Most rashes can be treated at home with some simple remedies and over-the-counter products. Here’s what you can do:

Home Remedies for Teething Rash

  1. Oatmeal baths. Soaking your baby’s bottom in a lukewarm bath mixed with a few tablespoons of finely ground oats can help soothe skin and reduce inflammation. You can either use a clean pair of pantyhose or cheesecloth to contain the oats, or purchase pre-made oatmeal bath packets[5].
  2. Coconut oil. Applying a thin layer of organic, cold-pressed coconut oil to your baby’s clean, dry skin can help moisturize and protect the skin while providing some anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits. Just be sure to consult with your pediatrician first before using any natural oils on broken or irritated skin[5].
  3. Aloe vera. The gel from an aloe vera plant has cooling, soothing, and healing properties that may help relieve diaper rash symptoms. Look for 100% pure aloe vera and apply a small amount to the affected areas. As with coconut oil, check with your child’s doctor before using, especially if the skin is broken[5].

Over-the-Counter Diaper Rash Treatments

In addition to home remedies, there are many over-the-counter diaper rash creams and ointments that can be effective in treating teething rash:

  1. Zinc oxide creams. Look for creams containing at least 40% zinc oxide, which helps form a protective barrier on the skin while soothing irritation. Apply a thick layer to the entire diaper area at each change[2].
  2. Petroleum jelly. Plain petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) can be used to protect the skin from moisture and create a barrier against irritants. It’s often cheaper than diaper creams but may not have the same skin-soothing benefits[2].
  3. Antifungal creams. If your baby’s rash persists or worsens after a few days of home treatment, it may be a sign of a yeast infection. Look for clotrimazole or miconazole creams to treat fungal infections, and follow the package instructions carefully[2].

If using any new products, be sure to do a patch test on a small area of skin first to check for any adverse reactions. And always consult with your pediatrician before using any medicated creams on infants.

Prescription Treatments for Severe Diaper Rash

In some cases, teething-related diaper rash can become severe and require medical attention. Signs that it’s time to see a doctor include:

  • Blisters or open sores that are oozing or bleeding
  • A rash that spreads beyond the diaper area
  • Fever along with a rash
  • A rash that doesn’t improve after 2-3 days of home treatment
  • Significant pain or discomfort for your baby

If your pediatrician determines that the rash is severe, they may prescribe stronger treatments such as:

  • Hydrocortisone cream to reduce inflammation and speed up healing
  • Antibiotic or antifungal creams to treat any secondary bacterial or yeast infections
  • Oral antibiotics if the rash has become infected[8]

Never use any prescription creams without the guidance of your child’s doctor, as improper use can worsen the rash or cause other side effects.

Teething Remedies to Soothe Your Baby

In addition to managing any diaper rash, you’ll also want to help your little one find relief from the discomfort of teething itself. Some safe and effective options include:

  1. Teething toys and cold washcloths. Offer your baby a clean, solid teething toy, pacifier, or wet washcloth that has been chilled in the refrigerator (not frozen). The cold temperature and pressure can help numb sore gums and provide relief[6].
  2. Gum massage. Using a clean finger, gently massage your baby’s gums with light pressure for a minute or two. This can help ease discomfort and stimulate the eruption of new teeth[6].
  3. Cold foods. If your baby has started solids, offer cold, soft foods like applesauce or yogurt to help soothe gums. You can also give them a mesh feeder filled with cold fruit or vegetables to gnaw on[6].
  4. Over-the-counter pain relievers. If your baby is over 6 months old and experiencing significant discomfort, you can give them a weight-appropriate dose of infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Always follow the package instructions carefully and consult with your pediatrician first[6].

Avoid using any teething gels or tablets that contain benzocaine or belladonna, as these can be harmful to infants. And never give your baby anything frozen solid to chew on, as this can cause frostbite or choking.

Identifying Different Types of Diaper Rash

Not all diaper rashes are created equal. In fact, there are several different types that can affect infants, each with their own unique symptoms and causes. Being able to distinguish between them can help you provide the most effective treatment for your baby.

Irritant Diaper Rash

This is the most common type of diaper rash and is caused by prolonged exposure to wet or soiled diapers, as well as chafing from the diaper itself. Symptoms include:

  • Red, shiny skin in the diaper area
  • Skin that feels warm to the touch
  • Fussiness or crying, especially during diaper changes[2]

Irritant diaper rash is best treated with frequent diaper changes, gentle cleansing, and a good barrier cream.

Yeast Infection Diaper Rash

This type of rash occurs when there is an overgrowth of the Candida fungus in the diaper area. It often develops after a course of antibiotics or if a regular diaper rash goes untreated. Signs include:

  • Bright red, raw-looking skin
  • Raised red bumps or pimples
  • Skin that may bleed or ooze fluid
  • Rash that extends into the skin folds[2]

Yeast rashes require an antifungal cream for treatment and can take longer to heal than irritant rashes.

Bacterial Diaper Rash

Less common than yeast rashes, bacterial diaper rashes occur when bacteria invade and infect irritated skin. They are often characterized by:

  • Bright red, swollen skin
  • Blisters or pus-filled bumps
  • Skin that may ooze yellow or green fluid
  • A strong odor[2]

If you suspect your baby has a bacterial rash, contact your pediatrician right away as they may need oral antibiotics to clear the infection.

Allergic Diaper Rash

In rare cases, your baby may develop an allergic reaction to certain ingredients in diapers, wipes, creams, or detergents. This type of rash usually appears as:

  • Red, inflamed skin wherever the irritant touched
  • Skin that is itchy or painful
  • Rash that doesn’t improve with typical treatments[2]

If you think your baby may have an allergic rash, try switching to hypoallergenic, fragrance-free products and see if the rash improves. If not, consult with your pediatrician for further guidance.

When to See a Doctor for Diaper Rash

While most teething-related diaper rashes can be managed at home, there are times when it’s important to seek medical attention. Contact your pediatrician if you notice any of the following:

  • A rash that doesn’t start to improve within 2-3 days of home treatment
  • A rash that is severe, painful, or bleeding
  • Blisters, boils, or open sores in the diaper area
  • A fever along with the rash
  • A rash that spreads beyond the diaper area
  • Significant diarrhea or vomiting
  • Signs of dehydration (dry mouth, sunken eyes, decreased wet diapers)
  • Your baby is under 6 weeks old and develops a diaper rash[3]

Your pediatrician can assess the rash and recommend the appropriate course of treatment, which may include prescription creams or antibiotics if needed. They can also rule out any other underlying conditions that may be contributing to the rash.

FAQs About Teething and Diaper Rash

Can teething cause diaper rash?

While teething itself doesn’t directly cause diaper rash, the increased saliva and loose stools that often accompany teething can create a moist environment that makes babies more prone to developing a rash[1].

How long does a teething diaper rash last?

Most teething-related diaper rashes will start to improve within 2-3 days of home treatment. If the rash persists or worsens after this time, it’s best to consult with your pediatrician[2].

What’s the best cream for teething diaper rash?

Look for a cream that contains at least 40% zinc oxide, which helps form a protective barrier on the skin while soothing irritation. Petroleum jelly can also be effective in protecting the skin from moisture. If the rash is caused by a yeast infection, an antifungal cream like clotrimazole or miconazole may be needed[2].

Can teething cause severe diaper rash?

In some cases, the combination of increased moisture and irritation from teething can lead to a more severe diaper rash, especially if it goes untreated. Signs of a severe rash include blisters, open sores, bleeding, or a rash that spreads beyond the diaper area. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your pediatrician right away[3].

Are there any natural remedies for treating teething diaper rash?

Some natural remedies that may help soothe teething diaper rash include oatmeal baths, coconut oil, and aloe vera. However, it’s important to consult with your pediatrician before using any natural remedies, especially if the skin is broken or irritated[5].

The Bottom Line on Teething and Diaper Rash

Teething and diaper rash are two common challenges that many babies (and their parents) face during the first year of life. While the two conditions are not directly related, the symptoms of teething can create a perfect storm for diaper rash to develop.

By understanding the link between teething and diaper rash, and implementing preventive strategies like frequent diaper changes, gentle cleansing, and using a good barrier cream, you can help minimize your baby’s discomfort during this time. If a rash does develop, there are many effective home remedies and over-the-counter treatments that can provide relief.

Remember, most teething rashes will clear up within a few days with proper care. However, if you notice any signs of a severe rash or your baby seems to be in significant pain, don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician for guidance.

With a little knowledge and a lot of patience, you can help your little one navigate this challenging milestone and come out smiling on the other side!

Key Takeaways

  • Teething can indirectly contribute to diaper rash due to increased saliva and changes in stool consistency
  • Preventing diaper rash during teething involves frequent diaper changes, gentle cleansing, and using a barrier cream
  • Home remedies like oatmeal baths and coconut oil may help soothe mild teething rashes
  • Over-the-counter zinc oxide or petroleum jelly-based creams are often effective for treating diaper rash
  • Severe rashes with blisters, open sores, or a fever require medical attention
  • Different types of diaper rash include irritant, yeast, bacterial, and allergic varieties
  • Contact your pediatrician if a rash does not improve after 2-3 days of home treatment or if your baby seems very uncomfortable

With this information in mind, you’re well-equipped to handle any teething and diaper rash challenges that come your way. Remember, every baby is different, so trust your instincts and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if needed. You’ve got this!


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2022). Teething: 4 to 7 Months. Healthy Children.
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2022). Diaper rash.
  3. Seattle Children’s Hospital. (2021). Diaper Rash.
  4. American Academy of Dermatology. (2021). How to Prevent and Treat Diaper Rash.
  5. National Eczema Association. (2022). Diaper Rash.
  6. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2022). Teething Pain. Healthy Children.
  7. American Dental Association. (2021). Teething.
  8. Nemours Children’s Health. (2022). Diaper Rash.
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