‘Nappy rash’ is the red, sore rash that appears in the nappy area in babies and young children. Most babies suffer from nappy rash at some point in their babyhood. It can be due to the presence of a wet nappy worn for too long, or it can be because of rather acidic poo caused by teething or dietary changes. It can also happen when the baby is learning to walk or crawl and their nappies rub their delicate skin.
Nappy rash can also be the result of a thrush infection (‘candida’) which is common after antibiotics have been taken by the baby – the antibiotics kill off the good bacteria that would normally keep the candida fungus in check. Babies can also develop a nappy rash if they are allergic to the nappy material (or, if they are using natural nappies, to the detergents used to clean them, or the elastic in the nappy covers).
You can normally treat nappy rash yourself by applying soothing creams bought over the counter. If you are unsure of which type to buy, then ask your pharmacist or health visitor for advice. If the rash appears to be infected in any way (e.g. if it is very inflamed, hot to the touch, oozes, or if your baby is generally unwell) then you should seek advice from your GP.
If the cream you have bought isn’t working, then see your GP if the rash hasn’t cleared up in a week, or if it gets worse or spreads to other parts of the body. If you think it’s caused by an allergy then ask your GP for advice in pinpointing the cause.
It’s better to avoid nappy rash than have to treat it. Sometimes it will happen no matter what you do, in which case don’t feel guilty about it, just get on with treating it.
To prevent nappy rash, change your baby’s nappy frequently (if nappy rash is developing, change more regularly still). Keep your baby’s bath temperature warm but not too warm, and avoid the use of soaps or bubbles. Apply zinc and castor oil cream after each nappy change – other commonly used creams are too drying – and if nappy rash is developing then try to keep your baby’s nappy off altogether as much as possible. Be sure to wash your hands before and after nappy changes to minimise infection.