Not all diaper rashes may be caused by what’s inside the diaper.

A new study shows that some diaper rashes may be caused by the colorful dyes found on the diapers themselves.

Researchers say that in some cases, the red and irritated skin typical of diaper rash may actually be an allergic reaction to the various pink, blue, and green dyes used in disposable diapers.

For these infants, switching to dye-free diapers may be all that’s needed to prevent future outbreaks of diaper rash.

Diaper Dyes Linked to Diaper Rash

Researchers say up to 35 percent of infants suffer from diaper rash at any given time. In most cases, the skin irritation is caused by irritants in the diaper area, including friction, moisture, urine, feces, or chemicals.

But in a report published in this month’s issue of Pediatrics, researchers studied the diaper rashes of seven infants who didn’t respond to typical diaper rash treatments and found that their rashes were caused by the dyes in the diapers and training pants the babies wore.

Skin patch tests in two of the infants confirmed that the diaper rash was caused by an allergic reaction to dyes in the diapers. In other cases, doctors found that the pattern of the rash corresponded exactly to the location of where the infant’s skin came in contact with dyes on the diaper, such as around the edge of the diaper.

While use of steroid creams temporarily alleviated the symptoms in this group of infants, only switching the baby to dye-free diapers prevented future outbreaks.

By Jennifer Warner, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCE: Alberta, L. Pediatrics, September 2005; vol 116: pp e150-e152.