Nappy rash

Nappy rash (also known as diaper rash) occurs when the skin is exposed to a wet or dirty nappy for too long. Most cases can be treated at home.

Symptoms

  • A red, inflamed rash around the genital area and anus, which sometimes spreads to the abdomen and buttocks
  • Blisters and ulceration may occur
  • If thrush develops, the rash may become even more inflamed and sensitive
  • The baby tends to be very unsettled due to the pain, and this may be exacerbated after they urinate, as the urine causes further irritation of the affected area

Causes

Nappy rash is most often caused by the baby’s skin coming into contact with urine, especially when a soiled nappy is not quickly changed. Some babies are particularly susceptible to it, for example due to having sensitive skin.

Nappy rash may be triggered by:

  • The formation of ammonia when urine comes into contact with microbes on the baby’s skin.
  • Plastic pants that don’t allow moisture to move away from the baby’s skin.
  • Nappies that chafe the baby’s skin.
  • Contact irritation from chemicals in laundry powder, fabric softener, baby wipes, soaps or lotions.

Babies with a personal or family history of other skin problems (e.g. cradle cap or eczema) are more likely than others to experience nappy rash.

Lifestyle Factors

  • Your baby can get nappy rash regardless of whether you use disposable or cloth nappies. It is moisture that is the problem, so make sure you change a wet or dirty nappy as soon as you can.
  • Use nappies that are specially designed to draw the moisture away from your baby’s bottom, especially if nappy rash is present or if your baby is particularly susceptible to it.
  • Until the nappy rash clears up, avoid plastic pants or diaper covers, as they trap moisture.
  • Every time you change your baby’s nappy, wash her bottom with plain warm water, and dry it thoroughly. It may be helpful to apply a barrier cream at the same time.
  • In European herbal medicine, calendula creams and lotions are traditionally used to relieve the pain of nappy rash and encourage healing.
  • Use only baby wipes and other products that are specially formulated to be gentle enough for babies’ skin. Avoid any products that contain alcohol.
  • Switch to low-allergy washing powder, and make sure all laundry is thoroughly rinsed so that no residue of detergent remains.
  • Leave the nappy off as often as possible, but take care to avoid sunburn.

Important Notes

  • Seek medical advice if infection is present, the rash does not clear up after 3-4 days, or if it spreads to the abdomen.

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