Nappy rash is a very common problem though fortunately, it is very rarely serious.
When do babies get a nappy rash?
The primary cause of a nappy rash is a combination of moisture and friction in contact with the baby’s delicate skin areas.
Typically, it affects the groin, bottom, upper leg, genitals and sometimes also the lower back and tummy areas. Given the tendency for nappies to hold moisture as the baby wriggles and toddles around, those are the body parts most likely to come into chaffing friction contact with a damp nappy.
Nappy rash is more commonly found with traditional towelling nappies rather than those containing modern new materials, as the latter tend to absorb and store more moisture away from direct skin contact.
The causes are usually simple:
- the baby’s nappy isn’t being changed regularly enough;
- when changing, the damp areas are not being cleaned and dried sufficiently.
Note that these are not criticisms. All babies are different and some require changing more frequently than others. This is a learning experience on a child-by-child basis, even for the most experienced parents.
The symptoms of nappy rash
They’re usually easy to spot. On lighter-skinned babies, it will be a red and inflamed rash around the body parts mentioned above. On darker-skinned children, the rash may appear rather greyer or purple.
There may be some raised areas with slightly broken skin too. Your baby might also be a little irritable and show evidence of discomfort.
Curing / avoiding nappy rash
In most cases, medical intervention isn’t required.
All that is necessary is for the baby’s nappy to be changed more regularly. The affected and vulnerable areas should be washed gently and also dried thoroughly, though very carefully. Make sure you’re using nappies of the correct size.
Special ointments or powders can be applied – your pharmacist will be happy to recommend baby-safe products accordingly.
A good idea also is to allow your baby or toddler to have some time each day out of their nappies. Yes, it’s a recipe for a mess but the airflow to their delicate parts will work wonders.
Finally, for a short period, you may wish to reduce somewhat the amount of highly acidic foods your baby is taking. Pineapple, strawberries and the like may exacerbate the problem and it might be useful to cut back for a while too on the amount of tomato being consumed. If you can avoid fluids just before bedtime, that may reduce the amount of overnight peeing the baby does.
However, don’t overdo that or keep it going for too long – your baby needs its diverse foodstuffs and plenty of fluid for health. If you remove some foodstuffs from the diet, be sure to replace them with something less acidic but equally nutritious.
Most nappy rash cases will clear up within a week or so of you starting the regime. If you continue this way, further outbreaks should be avoided.
When a doctor may be required
Unfortunately, the symptoms of nappy rash and some other infections can overlap, making it difficult for non-qualified people to tell the difference.
So, to be safe, consult your doctor if:
- the nappy rash isn’t improving within a week or so of you starting your regime;
- the rash seems to be spreading to other parts of the body;
- there are pustules or blisters;
- you see scabs on or discharges from the genitals or anus;
- there is diarrhoea or signs of blood/mucus in urine or faeces;
- the baby has a temperature;
- your baby seems in great distress or severe pain.
Note, excluding the first point above, if any of the other symptoms are present you should not wait a week to see if they improve but consult a doctor immediately.