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Dermatology. 2003;206(2):136-41.

Microbiological aspects of diaper dermatitis.

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  • 1Paediatric practice, Zurich, Switzerland.



The microbiological basis of diaper dermatitis is not clearly elucidated, although a better knowledge of microbial colonisation can be of importance with regard to an adequate treatment.


To investigate the relevance of candida sp. and Staphylococcus aureus colonisation in diaper dermatitis and to determine the correlation between the extent of colonisation and the severity of disease.


Growth of candida sp. and S. aureus in the perianal, inguinal and oral regions was determined by positive/negative and semi-quantitative analysis in an open, multi-centre (n = 3) study. Forty-eight children with healthy skin and 28 with diaper dermatitis were analysed. The severity of diaper dermatitis was assessed using a total symptoms score.


Colonisation by candida sp. was significantly more frequent in children with diaper dermatitis as compared to those with healthy skin (perianal 75 vs. 19%; inguinal 50 vs. 10%; oral 68 vs. 25%, p < 0.0003), whereas colonisation by S. aureus at the 3 swab locations was not different (p > 0.34). There was a highly significant, positive correlation between severity of disease and extent of candida sp. colonisation at all swab locations.


Limited microbial colonisation in diaper dermatitis is of questionable relevance, but extensive colonisation seems to aggravate the symptoms; therefore, we suggest that semi-quantitative evaluation should be preferred to the positive/negative assessment for a differential diagnosis.

Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel

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