Measuring the role of diaper breathability on yeast growth in vitro


*Corresponding Author
Corporate Research & Engineering, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, P. O. Box 349 Neenah, WI 54957, USA


The pathogenic yeast Candida albicans plays a significant role in diaper dermatitis among infants and the elderly. Water activity may provide a means to control C. albicans growth and minimize the need for antibiotic treatment, however a rapid in vitro screening method is needed to evaluate preventive or treatment efficacy without costly, time-consuming studies using human subjects. A testing apparatus using a simulated skin substrate was used to simulate growth conditions found on diapered skin. The measured evaporative water loss (EWL)of the simulated skin substrate correlated with established values for adult and infant perianal skin. These results indicate that the skin simulator apparatus provides a method for rapid and inexpensive evaluation of a variety of skin-related materials and treatments.


The pathogenic yeast Candida albicans has been associated with numerous aliments such as thrush and diaper rash in infants and urinary/vaginal infections in adult females (1-3). Diaper dermatitis, or diaper rash, is a common affliction of infants (4) and elderly users of adult care incontinence products (5). C. albicans plays a significant role in severe diaper dermatitis, frequently causing a secondary infection (4, 6). The warm, moist, and occlusive environment of a diaper appears to facilitate the growth and infection by C. albicans (4, 6), which is frequently treated using antifungal agents (4). There is, however, a need for C. albicans control measures that circumvent the necessity for antibiotic treatment.

It is well known that water is required to support the growth of bacteria, yeast, and fungi (7). The term water activity (aW) refers to the water available for microbial growth (8). Water activity has been explored extensively in two scientific disciplines: physical chemistry and food microbiology. In the former, it measures the thermodynamic free energy of water, and in the latter, it is used to ...