Nappy Rash – Common Causes and Treatments

Even the best cared for little bottoms are still likely to suffer with nappy rash at some stage. It can happen with any type of nappy, washable or disposable, and tends to be most troublesome for babies of 9 to 12 months of age.

What is nappy rash?

Nappy rash is the inflammation and reddening of the skin, specifically where the skin has been in close contact with a nappy. The affected areas can appear dry or damp, and can be spotty or raised and shiny.

What causes it?

Nappy rash is usually caused by a combination of factors.
The main cause is persistent or prolonged contact with the dampness from wee and poo that is often present in nappies next to baby’s delicate skin. Even with the most modern and absorbent of nappies, this is difficult to avoid because young babies need to excrete so regularly.

Other contributors are:

  • Plastic nappy pants, which stop air circulation and retain the problem moisture
  • Reactions to detergents, soaps and certain products that do not suit baby’s skin
  • Additional skin conditions (thrush, eczema, psoriasis, etc.)
  • Generally sensitive or dry skin
  • Bouts of diarrhoea, or anything resulting in repeated contact with a dirty nappy

Treatments and prevention

Mild or moderate cases of nappy rash usually clear up after a few days and here are some tips & tricks for helping to treat and prevent it.

  • Air baby’s bottom as often as you can. Lie baby on a towel for a nap with no nappy or sit on a washable blanket.
  • Change them often. If you check your little one’s nappy regularly you can change it as soon as it’s soiled.
  • Keep skin clean. Where possible use fresh water and mild baby soap, rather than wipes. Always rinse and pat dry.
  • If using wipes choose a brand for sensitive skin, without alcohol or other harsh irritants.
  • Always rinse cloth nappies to ensure there is no detergent or soap residue. Also ensure fabric is completely dry before reuse.
  • Use a barrier cream such as Sudocrem to protect baby’s skin. Follow the instructions carefully and always ask your pharmacist if you need any advice.
  • Try to avoid talcum powder, it can cause extra irritation and can also be accidentally inhaled.
  • Try to avoid plastic over pants.

When to talk to your GP

When nappy rash is severe or persistent your doctor may recommend specialist prescription creams or ointments. Always check with your doctor if:

  • There is no improvement after treating the rash for 3 days
  • Your baby’s discomfort is preventing them from sleeping
  • There is any sign of fever or high temperature
  • The rash spreads, blisters or becomes crusty
  • You think your baby may have a secondary/additional infection
As always, see your doctor if you are unsure of any rash or swelling.

Nappy rash is a common complaint so be sure to tell your childcare centre if you are following special treatment options or preventative measures. Here at the Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare centres in NSW we take healthy routines very seriously and will be happy to discuss any methods in place to suit each infant as an individual.