Milk can cause diaper rash if your child has a milk allergy or is lactose intolerant. Diaper rash is a common skin irritation that occurs on an infant's buttocks from wet diapers or excessive exposure to stool. If you notice that your child develops diarrhea and diaper rash after drinking milk, you need to talk with your pediatrician. Milk should not cause diarrhea or diaper rash. Do not reduce or eliminate milk from your child’s diet without talking with your doctor.
A milk allergy is common among children under the age of 3. A milk allergy refers to cow’s milk and does not include breast milk. Breast milk does not contain the same proteins that trigger a cow’s milk allergy. If the mother drinks cow’s milk, some of the cow’s milk proteins can enter the breast milk and cause an allergic reaction in the nursing baby. A milk allergy is a serious medical condition that could lead to severe reactions. Common symptoms associated with a milk allergy are asthma, hives and facial swelling.
Lactose intolerance is very rare in young children and babies because they produce more lactase, the enzyme required to digest lactose, than adults. Lactose is sugar found in milk that needs to be simplified to be absorbed into the bloodstream. If your child has recently had a stomach or intestinal infection, she can become temporarily lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance will cause diarrhea shortly after you child ingests milk, which could cause diaper rash.
Another condition related to milk causing diaper rash is milk intolerance. Milk intolerance is not the same condition as a milk allergy because it’s not caused by an immune system reaction but rather a defect in the intestines. Milk intolerance occurs when your body cannot break down the casein and whey proteins during the digestive process. Milk intolerance will cause diarrhea, gas, bloating and stomach pain.
Treatment will be determined based on the diagnosis. If you child has a milk allergy or milk intolerance, your doctor will discuss dairy-free options to prevent diarrhea and other allergy symptoms. Lactose intolerance causing diaper rash can be treated by adding an enzyme to the baby’s bottle before she drinks it. Diaper rash is most effectively treated by maintaining a dry diaper on your child. Change stool and urine as soon as possible and keep diaper rash cream applied to the child’s bottom.