Can Baby Wipes Cause a UTI?

UTIs are unpleasant infections that make trips to the bathroom painful, and they can affect both children and adults. For children, in particular, it’s common to wonder what can cause a UTI, so that parents can do all they can to prevent it. For example, can baby wipes cause a UTI?

Baby wipes do not cause UTIs, but the type you use and the way in which they are used may increase the risk of a UTI. 

Continue reading to learn more. 

Key Takeaways:

  • UTIs are caused by bacteria.
  • Baby wipes may bring bacteria from the anus to the urethra, increasing the risk of a UTI.
  • You can minimize the risk of a UTI by wiping from front to back, avoiding scented products, and fully emptying the bladder when going to the restroom. 

Table of Contents

Can Using Baby Wipes Cause a UTI?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the result of bacteria entering the urethra and traveling through the urinary tract, often ending up in the bladder. Knowing this, the only thing that will cause a UTI is bacteria, so using baby wipes will not cause a UTI. 

However, there are a few connections between baby wipe usage and UTIs. 

Can Baby Wipes Increase the Risk of Getting a UTI?

While baby wipes do not cause UTIs, they can increase your risk of them. This primarily depends on the direction in which you wipe, as baby wipes can carry bacteria on them, especially if you wipe in the wrong direction. 

All wiping, especially for girls, should be done from front to back. This minimizes the risk of bacteria from the anus (most notably E. coli) being brought to the urethra, where it shouldn’t be and where it can easily become a UTI. 

What Can You Do to Minimize the Risks?

When it comes to minimizing the risk of baby wipes causing a UTI, there are a few areas you can focus on. 

Wipe Front to Back

The most important thing you can do to prevent a UTI is to always wipe from front to back. This ensures that the urethra stays clear of the bacteria that can reside in the stool or around the anus. 

It is the caregiver’s responsibility to wipe in this direction when changing an infant’s diaper, but as they grow and go through potty training, they need to be taught to always wipe front to back. 

Stick to Non-Scented

Any type of perfume that comes into contact with the vagina can upset its natural pH level, which then creates problems for the bacteria that reside there. The vagina relies on this microbiome to stay healthy, so if someone’s pH level is outside the optimal range, the harmful bacteria can begin to outweigh the good bacteria. This then increases the odds of bacteria spreading from the vagina to the urethra, causing a UTI.

To avoid this, ensure that any baby wipes you use on yourself and your child are unscented. 

Empty Your Bladder Completely

Holding in your pee offers more time for bacteria to grow and reproduce within the bladder, which is why peeing when needed helps prevent a UTI; it minimizes the amount of time the bacteria linger in the bladder. 

Children going through potty training may need to be encouraged to pee more often instead of putting it off, and to empty their bladder completely when they go to the restroom. 

What to Do if You Get a UTI?

If you notice any symptoms of a UTI, such as burning when peeing, frequently needing to go to the bathroom, or an inability to empty your bladder completely, it’s best to contact your doctor. Some UTIs may go away on their own, but in most cases, they require an antibiotic prescription, which you can only get from your doctor. By starting an antibiotic as soon as you notice the symptoms of a UTI, you can attack the infection before it has a chance to develop into something more serious. 

In Conclusion

UTIs are the result of bacteria entering the urethra and traveling up the urinary tract to the bladder. While bacteria cause them, though, other factors can increase their risk of occurring, such as baby wipes or, more specifically, the type and way in which they are used. 

To minimize UTIs, always wipe front to back, use unscented wipes, and empty your bladder completely when using the restroom. For parents, it is important to follow these steps for their child and to teach them when the child goes through potty training. 

If you ever notice signs of a UTI, seek medical help immediately—the sooner you start an antibiotic, the easier the infection is to treat. 

Sources:

  • Flores-Mireles, A., Walker, J., Caparon, M., & Hultgren, S. (2015). Urinary tract infections: epidemiology, mechanisms of infection and treatment options. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 13(5), 269-284. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro3432 
  • Al-Badr, A., & Al-Shaikh, G. (2013). Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Management in Women: A review. Sultan Qaboos University medical journal, 13(3), 359–367. https://doi.org/10.12816/0003256 
  • Mulvey, M. A., Schilling, J. D., & Hultgren, S. J. (2001). Establishment of a persistent Escherichia coli reservoir during the acute phase of a bladder infection. Infection and immunity, 69(7), 4572–4579. https://doi.org/10.1128/IAI.69.7.4572-4579.2001
  • Robinson, J., Finlay, J. C., Lang, M., & Bortolussi, R. (2014). Urinary tract infections in infants and children: Diagnosis and management. Paediatrics and Child Health, 19(6), 315–319. https://doi.org/10.1093/pch/19.6.315 
  • Arshad, M., & Seed, P. C. (2015). Urinary Tract Infections in the Infant. Clinics in Perinatology, 42(1), 17–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clp.2014.10.003 

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

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