One of the most common causes of nappy rash is when a baby is subject to infrequent nappy changes, and a wet or dirty nappy sits against their skin for too long. Illness is a contributing factor, as a baby is thought to be more likely to develop nappy rash when they are unwell. Sitting in a nappy for an extended period of time, such as during a long car trip or walk in the pram, is also thought to be a cause of nappy rash. Heat, such as that from a heater used during Winter, hot days during Summer or too many layers of clothing, are also said to be contributing factors to the development of nappy rash. Other causes include the introduction of a new food, the brand of disposable nappy being used, or an infection of the skin such as thrush aggravating the area and making it more prone to nappy rash.
Nappy rash occurs when the baby's urine mixes with the germs that live on the baby's skin, in their clothing or nappies, and in their faeces. These germs turn into ammonia when kept in a wet environment, such as a wet, dirty or even sweaty nappy. The ammonia that is created can have a burning effect on the baby's skin, and this combined with the friction of the nappy rubbing against the baby's delicate skin creates nappy rash.
How the nappy rash presents itself differs greatly between each child. Usually it is red swollen skin, combined with blisters or ulcers, almost like little pimples. Nappy rash can cover a large area, such as the whole of the skin that is usually covered by the nappy, or only small patches.
Once your child develops nappy rash there are a number of ways to treat it. A combination of the following usually works best, and after they have had it once it usually pays to put preventative measures in place. If you are concerned about the severity or are finding treatment ineffective a trip to your GP may be in order so that they can prescribe a suitable ointment with cortisone in it. Treatments of nappy rash include:
~ Changing the baby's nappy as often as possible to ensure it stays as dry as possible.
~ Allowing nappy off time on a regular daily basis, as often as possible, to allow the skin time to breathe and allow it to dry completely.
~ Disposable nappies appear to be more effective than cloth nappies in alleviating the symptoms of nappy rash, particularly brands with absorbent linings. If you choose to use cloth nappies, ensure they are changed regularly, and washed using powder suitable for sensitive skin. Dry them in a dryer, rather than in the sun to keep them softer and avoid using plastic pants over the top.
~ Keep baby's bottom clean at all times, and wash very gently with warm water and no soap. Some sorbolene creams are suitable to add to the warm water should you wish to do so. Pat, rather than rub when washing and drying your child.
~ Ensure that any baby wipes you use do not contain alcohol in them as this is painful for the baby. It is recommended that a wet face washer is used, without soap, to clean baby's bottom whilst they have nappy rash.
~ After each nappy change apply a barrier cream to the skin such as zinc cream, Bepanthen, Sudocream or Daktozin. Check with your pharmacist to see which they recommend.
~ Do not use powder on your baby. Talc powder is believed to be dangerous for infants, and cornstarch powder contains yeast which thrush feeds on.
Nappy rash can be mildly or severely painful for your child, so patience and extra comfort will be required until symptoms are treated. Babies with nappy rash can be irritable and have sleep difficulties. Pain relief such as Infant Panadol can be used to help relieve some of the pain. Thrush, bacterial infections and eczema can often be mistaken for nappy rash so it is important to have it checked by a doctor if symptoms do not subside within a few days of treatment.
Nappy rash is a very common infant ailment, that can be effectively treated with one or all of the aforementioned treatments.