All about nappy rash

If you change your baby's nappy and you notice that their nappy area is red and splotchy, they probably have nappy rash – an infection that thrives in warm, moist areas of your baby’s body and can occur at any time in children from newborns up to two year olds.

But before you start panicking, this infection is not dangerous and is, very often, easy to treat and prevent.

Causes

Several things could cause nappy rash but the most common causes are:

  • If your little one’s nappy is not changed often or quick enough after a wee or poo, the bacteria in the wee or poo starts to irritate their sensitive skin – causing a rash.
  • Clothes and nappies that are too tight and rub against the skin causing chafing, leading to a rash.
  • Certain products, especially ones that have alcohol or are fragranced, are likely to irritate your baby’s skin because it is so sensitive.
  • Certain foods (as well as what mothers eat while breastfeeding) will affect your child’s wee or poo – such as the frequency, acidity, and the bacteria that are present in it, which all contribute to increasing the likelihood of your little one getting a rash.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a nappy rash are very easy to spot. You will notice red, splotchy, tender skin in or around your little one’s buttocks, thighs, and genital area. Your baby will likely also become very fussy and uncomfortable, especially during a nappy change or when they have just made a wee or poo.

Treatment and prevention

The main thing to do to treat and prevent a nappy rash is to keep your baby’s nappy area as clean and dry as possible. This means changing their nappy as soon as they have made a wee or poo. When you clean the area gently wipe with a clean, wet cloth or wipe (non-fragranced and alcohol-free preferably).

When bathing your baby, use a soap-free cleanser or a very mild cleanser to avoid irritating the affected areas further. Strong, fragrant soaps are very harsh on your baby’s sensitive skin.

Let your little one go nappy-free for some time during the day. This helps their nappy area to breathe and stay dry – just put a clean towel underneath them in case of any accidents and try to do this after they have just made a wee or poo.

When to see a doctor

  • If the rash becomes worse after home treatment
  • If the rash itches, oozes or bleeds
  • If the rash is more severe – swelling with scales and/or lesions
  • If your baby has a fever or becomes lethargic

If you notice any of the above symptoms, call your doctor, midwife or paediatrician as soon as possible.