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Baby Health Nappy Rash

Nappy Rash

What is nappy rash?

Nappy rash is a common ailment for babies. It's a type of dermatitis that occurs in the nappy area. The baby develops a sore, red rash which can cause a lot of discomfort and should be treated.

What causes nappy rash?

There are several things that can contribute to your baby developing nappy rash:

  • Babies with sensitive skin are more prone to nappy rash. 
  • Ammonia is a chemical in urine which can irritate the skin, particularly if it has been in contact with a wet nappy for long periods. 
  • Faeces can impact nappy rash, particularly if your baby has had diarrhoea. Candida Albicans, commonly known as thrush can also be present in faeces and thrives in moist and warm skin areas. Thrush can exacerbate nappy rash. 
  • Friction between the nappy and your baby's skin. 

Scented soap products or wipes with an alcohol base.  

How do I know my baby has nappy rash?

Look for red, sore and possibly swollen skin.  Sometimes just a small part of the skin is affected while in other cases the whole area is irritated. Your baby may be feeling unwell and have difficulty sleeping.

Treating nappy rash

To clear your baby's nappy rash, it's helpful to:
  • 1

    Change your baby's nappy often. This avoids leaving your baby in a wet or soiled nappy for extended periods. 

  • 2

    If you're using cloth nappies, wash and dry them thoroughly. If you can, dry them in the tumble dryer as it will make them softer. 

  • 3

    Clean your baby's nappy area very gently using warm water and a soft cloth/cotton wool or chemical free non-perfumed wipes. 

  • 4

    Some parents like to use a cream to form a barrier at each nappy change to help moisture away from your baby's bottom. eg a zinc cream. Your pharmacist will help advise you on the best creams to use. 

  • 5

    Give your baby some nappy free time each day. This gives their skin time to dry out. 

  • 6

    Avoid using powders. They can be a breathing hazard to your baby and won't help with clearing your baby's nappy rash. 

If the rash won’t go away

If the rash persists for more than a couple of days, or the rash is severe (there is broken skin), ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice. 

FAQs about nappy rash

Candida Albicans, commonly known as thrush can also be present in faeces and thrives in moist and warm skin areas. 

It's best to go to the GP or Child and Family Health Nurse to be diagnosed.  There is cream you can apply to treat thrush that you can buy over the counter at the pharmacy.

There is no direct link with teething causing nappy rash although some parents notice their baby is more susceptible to nappy rash when teething.  Nappy rash is caused by the skin being irritated by the chemicals in urine or faeces.  Some babies with sensitive skin are more prone to nappy rash.

Changing nappies frequently, especially after a bowel motion cleaning the area well and applying a barrier cream after changing is the best approach.

You may need to see your GP is it doesn’t clear up quickly as babies with nappy rash can develop thrush or need cream that the GP can prescribe.

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