Everything you need to know about baby nappy rash
From wetness to food sensitivities, we asked midwife Kate Mundell to explain the most common causes of nappy rash and how to prevent and soothe it. In this feature we show you:
- What is baby nappy rash?
- What causes nappy rash?
- What does nappy rash look like?
- How long does nappy rash last?
- What is fungal nappy rash?
- How to prevent nappy rash
- How to treat baby nappy rash at home
- When should you see a doctor?
What is baby nappy rash?
The term ‘nappy rash’ is used to refer to an acute inflammatory reaction of your baby’s skin in the area underneath the nappy.
What causes nappy rash?
Midwife Kate Mundell says: “The barrier function of your baby’s skin can be harmed because it is in constant contact with wet, acidic urine, which softens and breaks down the skin if left unchecked. “
Nappy rash can also be caused by:
The friction of a nappy or other fabric rubbing on the skin
The skin being in contact for too long with baby’s poo
The nappy area not being cleaned often enough, or thoroughly enough
Using harsh, alcohol-based wipes; instead use gentle wipes such as Huggies Pure Extra Care
But it’s not just nappy care that can cause nappy rash, as Kate explains.
“If your baby has to have a course of antibiotics, this can often result in a nappy rash. Certain foods can also cause a rash when you are weaning your baby, particularly acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes. Teething can quite often cause a flare up in sore bottoms for babies too. This can be due to the excessive salivation going on when they’re teething.”
“Certain foods can also cause a rash when you are weaning your baby, particularly acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes.”
Midwife Kate Mundell
What does nappy rash look like?
The signs of nappy rash that most people would recognise is an area of angry, red skin (also called erythema) in the nappy area. This may have defined spots, or there may be larger red patches of skin; there may also be blisters, pimples, or spots present.
Nappy rash can range in severity from a very slight redness through to an incredibly red, sore, and angry skin inflammation. This can cause distress to your baby, as the rash feels painful and itchy.
How long does nappy rash last?
“If you start managing the symptoms of nappy rash quickly and get it under control, the rash should usually disappear within about three days,” says Kate. “Complicating factors, such as antibiotic use and allergies to certain foods may cause it to last a little longer.”
What is fungal nappy rash?
“If you can see red, raised patches surrounded by scales, especially in the folds of the skin, which may have small, raised cysts or fluid-filled blisters and you have tried all your usual home remedies for nappy rash, your baby may have a fungal infection,” says Kate. “This is caused by a harmless yeast (candida) that lives on the skin. It can be treated with an antifungal nappy rash cream, so speak to your doctor if you suspect this is the cause of your baby’s red, uncomfortable skin.”
How to prevent nappy rash
The best way to avoid treating nappy rash is to prevent the rash in the first place - but this is easier said than done at times! Try to keep your baby as clean and dry as possible, change their nappy frequently and if you notice a sensitivity with a food, avoid it for a little while.
If your baby has mild redness on their skin, you can use a barrier cream, applied thinly, at each nappy change to protect the skin.
8 ways to treat baby nappy rash at home
We asked midwife Kate for her top strategies:
Try using a higher absorbency nappy
Allow your baby some time without a nappy on (lay them on a blanket or washable play mat) to allow air to get to the skin
Make sure you change the nappy frequently
Change the nappy as soon as it is soiled, and frequently if wet
Choose fragrance and alcohol-free baby wipes such as Huggies® Pure Extra Care
After a bath or nappy change, avoid rubbing your baby dry; instead, use a gentle, patting motion
Avoid perfumed soaps, shampoos, and body washes
For a more severe rash, medical professionals recommend you use a Zinc and Castor Oil ointment BP, or a soft white paraffin BP ointment.
When should you see a doctor?
“In most cases,” says Kate, “nappy rash cases are mild and can be easily treated at home by you. Managing strategies and an appropriate barrier cream usually mean that the rash will clear up quickly.
“However, if this doesn’t work, you’ll need to speak to your GP or health visitor. If the rash is inflamed and your baby is in pain, they could be prescribed a topical hydrocortisone 1% cream. This is applied to the skin once a day for a week and is used as well as a barrier cream until the symptoms settle down.”
If your baby appears grumpy, listless, and perhaps has a slight fever, their nappy rash might be infected, in which case, make sure you visit your GP as soon as possible for an antibiotic to cure then infection.
With thanks to Kate Mundell of Naytal Midwives
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