Nappy rash describes any irritation in the nappy area that causes the skin to become red and sore. Nappy rash affects most babies at some time in their first year, particularly when changing over to solid foods or when introducing new foods into their diet. Breast fed babies are less likely to develop nappy rash than bottle fed ones.
- Red patches on the baby’s bottom
- Whole area can look red
- Skin looks sore & hot to touch
- Spots, pimples or blisters
What causes Nappy Rash?
Nappy rash is usually caused by the skin's continuous contact with a soiled nappy. When a little one has been left in a dirty nappy for too long it can cause severe nappy rash. Even the best brands of absorbent nappies will cause moisture to come in contact with the skin causing it to become irritated if not changed soon enough. At the same time, in some cases, even if you change your baby's nappy often, he or she may still experience nappy rash if they have particularly sensitive skin.
Stomach upsets and bouts of diarrhoea can also make your baby more prone to nappy rash because the nappy is fuller and wetter than usual. Babies can also get nappy rash if they are allergic to certain skin creams, baby washes and wipes, or other skin care products. In this case it would be called allergic dermatitis.
Other causes include:
- Yeast infection
- Bacterial infection
- Rubbing against the nappy itself
- Allergic reaction to nappy
- Cradle cap/seborrheic dermatitis
Babies are more prone to nappy rashes as they get older, usually between the age of 9 and 12 months. You might also notice it more frequently when your little one starts eating solids, after taking antibiotics, or if you are on antibiotics while nursing.
Call your doctor if you start to notice:
- Your baby has a fever or starts to seem sluggish and overly tired
- The nappy rash does not start to clear or respond to treatment in a couple days
- Yellow, fluid-filled bumps and slightly crusty areas on the skin which may be signs of bacterial infection
- Signs of yeast infection like swollen red rash with white scales and lesions, small red pimples outside of the nappy area, redness on the folds of your baby's skin
In such cases your pediatrician may prescribe an antifungal medication to help clear it up.
Tips for preventing nappy rash
- Check your baby's nappy often and change it as soon as you notice it's wet. The key to preventing nappy rash is to ensure the baby does not sit around for any length of time wearing a soiled nappy.
- Wash your hands before and after each nappy change. If the bathroom is too far away to leave your little one on the changing pad unattended, keep a bottle of mild sanitiser handy at the changing table so you can use it whenever you need to give your hands a quick wash.
- If you use baby wipes, use the ones that are mild and free of fragrances or alcohol. A damp washcloth can work just as well.
- Use plain water for general washes and a mild cleanser for bigger messes.
- Gently pat the nappy area dry rather than rubbing. Make sure your little one Is completely dry.
- Allow your baby to have nappy-free moments to let the skin air out. Airing out the nappy zone can help prevent and heal baby nappy rashes. As a tip, only do this after bowel movement.
- Use hypoallergenic detergent for cloth nappies to promote gentler skincare for your baby.
Tips for treating nappy rash
Nappy rash is a fairly common problem with most babies. While it usually will clear up and go away on it's own, it can be useful to know how to quicken the healing process and limit your little one's discomfort.
- Apply nappy rash creams such as zinc and castor oil cream. Drapolene, Metanium and Sudocrem can be applied to act as a moisture barrier and to soothe irritation.
- If your baby develops a bright red rash with white or red pimples which spread into the folds of the skin you will need to use an anti-fungal cream available from the pharmacist or on prescription from a doctor.
- If the area is particularly inflamed a weak hydrocortisone cream (steroid) may get prescribed or antibiotics if there appears to be an infection.
- Consider changing the type of nappy you're using for your child. If you find that cloth nappies hold moisture too close the skin and generally cause irritation, try switching to disposables, or change the detergent you're currently using. If you are using disposables already, try changing to another brand.