Clinical signs and symptoms of diaper dermatitis in newborns, infants, and young children: A scoping review

J Tissue Viability. 2022 Aug;31(3):404-415. doi: 10.1016/j.jtv.2022.03.003. Epub 2022 Apr 4.


Rationale: Diaper dermatitis (DD) is a significant problem in the care of newborns, infants, and young children and good recognition of signs and symptoms optimises timely treatment. There is also a need for a standardised set of related descriptors to enable communication between health care providers about diagnosis and treatment.

Objective: The study aimed to review the literature for descriptive words to define the clinical signs, symptoms, and characteristics, including anatomical locations and assessment scales or tools, in the newborn, infants and young children population who have been diagnosed with DD.

Methods: A systematic review process utilising PRISMA guidelines [1] was conducted using advanced search techniques to analyse the terms from the database thesauri and keywords. Data bases including Ovid MEDLINE® and Epub Ahead of Print, in-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, Daily and Versions® were searched from 1946 to March 18, 2021. Cochrane Handbook Searching for and selecting studies were used as a guide and as best practice to conduct the search.

Results: Of the 551 publications originally identified, 55 full text publications were examined and 21 met the inclusion criteria. The wide range of descriptors used in the literature for DD supports the need for a clearer approach to report the signs and symptoms, and the severity, of DD.

Conclusions: These findings point to gaps in the literature, both in recording signs and symptoms of DD and features such as wetness, infection, anatomical location, severity and pain in newborns, infants, and young children. There is a need to develop a robust methodological tool to bridge the gap and link a common terminology on signs and symptoms to support diagnosis of the severity of DD.

Keywords: Children; Clinical signs; Clinical symptoms; Diaper dermatitis; Incontinence-associated dermatitis; Neonatal.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diaper Rash* / diagnosis
  • Diaper Rash* / drug therapy
  • Diaper Rash* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn