adult diaper rash

How to Treat Adult Diaper Rash

Ensuring Your Loved Ones Feel Comfortable With Their Diaper

Adult diaper rash, sometimes called diaper dermatitis, is a fairly common condition, especially in individuals that suffer from incontinence or those living in long-term care facilities that use absorbency products such as incontinence briefs, diapers or pads. While it isn’t usually serious, it can become worse if not treated appropriately.

What is Adult Diaper Rash?

It involves the skin around the genital area becoming irritated in some way resulting in pink or reddish skin that can be painful and itchy, leading to discomfort. While it is most commonly found in individuals with urinary incontinence, it can happen to anyone.

Adult Diaper Rash Causes

Causes of diaper dermatitis include:

  • Moisture – Prolonged wetness can cause adult diaper rash; skin is especially sensitive to urine, stool and sweat. Excessive moisture may occur if there is too much time between product changes. Additionally, frequent bowel movements or diarrhea can lead to a rash as the stool is irritating to the skin.
  • Chafing – When material rubs against the skin or when the folds of the skin stick to each other for long periods, skin irritation may occur. Incontinence briefs or pads that don’t fit properly, or clothes that are too tight, can cause chafing. Chafing is more likely to occur during warmer temperatures due to increased sweating, or if you’re sitting in a soiled absorbency product for too long.
  • Allergies to incontinence products or barrier creams and ointment – Some of these products contain materials and chemicals to improve the absorbency of the product and to provide odor control. Allergies to these materials and/or chemicals may contribute to adult diaper rash.
  • Poor hygiene – Most individuals with incontinence go through several incontinence products each day. But, it’s essential to clean the area after each product change and do a thorough cleaning at the end of each day to ensure that no urine or stool is left on the skin. If the area is not cleaned properly each day, skin irritation and a rash may occur.
  • Infection – Individuals that wear incontinence products are at an increased risk of yeast and fungal infections as warm, moist environments promote bacterial and fungal growth. These types of infections cause skin irritation and may lead to adult diaper rash.

Symptoms of Adult Diaper Rash

Symptoms of mild adult diaper rash may include:

  • Pink or reddish skin with bumps or dry skin patches.
  • Discomfort.
  • Itching.
  • Symptoms of more severe cases may develop over time if mild cases aren’t treated, and may include:
  • Tender, red, raw, inflamed skin that may resemble burned skin.
  • Skin that is warm to the touch.
  • Skin lesions.
  • Severe itching.
  • Oozing or bleeding.
  • Pain or a burning sensation when urinating or having a bowel movement.

In extremely severe cases, a rash may be the result of infection and may be accompanied by additional symptoms including:

  • Fever.
  • Body aches and pains.
  • Exhaustion.

Treatment for Adult Diaper Rash

Most cases of adult diaper rash can be treated from the comfort of your own home and clear up within a couple of days using the following treatment options:

  • Ensure that you’re changing your incontinence product frequently. Staying in a wet product can worsen the diaper rash and prolong treatment.
  • Wash the genital area gently and thoroughly with mild, unscented soap and water, and rinse the area after washing.
  • Keep the affected area dry to help heal adult diaper rash. After showering or bathing, gently pat the area dry and allow the area to be exposed to air for as long as possible. It helps to keep moisture away from the area and encourages healing.
  • Application of a cream or ointment designed to treat adult diaper rash. Zinc oxide barrier creams and skin protectants help relieve skin irritation and also help keep the affected area dry. Be sure to use the product as directed on the packaging.
  • Decreased friction in the affected area helps prevent further irritation and allows the affected area time to heal.

Diaper dermatitis caused by an infection may need a prescription antifungal or antibacterial ointment to treat it effectively.

Preventing Rashes

There are various steps you can take to prevent adult diaper rash, including:

  • Ensure that your incontinence product fits properly so it absorbs while minimizing friction.
  • Change your incontinence product frequently.
  • Clean the genital area after each product change; if soap and water aren’t available, use non-irritating wipes to clean the area.
  • Wash your genital area thoroughly at least once daily, and allow the area to air dry completely before dressing.
  • Apply a barrier ointment to the area to minimize chaffing and friction.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes.
  • Treat any signs and symptoms of diaper rash immediately.
  • If you suffer from multiple bouts of adult diaper rash, look for an alternative product that may be more suitable.


Adult diaper rash is a fairly common condition, and while it most commonly occurs in people that use incontinence products such as incontinence briefs, diapers and pads, it can happen to anyone. The good news is that it’s easy to treat and usually clears up within a couple of days with appropriate treatment.

Additionally, there are numerous ways to prevent it from occurring. Choosing an appropriate incontinence product, keeping the genital area clean and dry, using a barrier ointment and avoiding tight clothing can help minimize the chance that you’ll end up with this irritating, uncomfortable condition.

Learn about treating diaper rash in babies.

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