What is nappy rash?
Opening up a dirty nappy and seeing a red, sometimes-blistering rash can be quite alarming, but up to 35 percent of babies will experience some form of nappy rash. There are several reasons why you might start noticing it more often:
Your baby's bottom is cooped up in a moist, soiled nappy, and you might be less diligent about immediately changing the nappy now that he is having fewer bowel movements.
An infection (especially after antibiotics) can lead to a build up of bacteria or yeast. If a baby has thrush in his mouth, there's a chance that the yeast could be digested and continue to grow in the moist nappy.
Perhaps your baby has a pH imbalance in his stools or urine with too much ammonia.
Your baby just might have sensitive skin, no matter how diligently you change soiled nappies.
You might notice more nappy rash as your baby is introduced to solids over the next few months.
Severe nappy rash
There are different varieties of nappy rash, and the severity is usually pretty apparent. The typical red skin that comes and goes is generally tolerable and can easily be treated with a little nappy rash cream. At the other end of the spectrum, some babies develop blistering, crusty and even oozing rashes, often found in the folds of baby's skin and possibly spread up to the abdomen.
Preventing nappy rash
The best way to treat a nappy rash is to prevent it from happening in the first place, which might not always be possible. The most effective measure is to change your baby's nappy often even in the middle of the night. If he has persistent nappy rashes, try the following suggestions:
Thoroughly clean his genitals after each changing, and make sure the nappy area is completely dry before putting on a nappy. Try different wipes, especially ones without alcohol, or just wash the area with warm water, gentle soap and cotton balls. (If your baby currently has a rash, avoid wipes altogether.)
Let your baby's bottom breathe. Take off the nappy from time to time, and also dress your baby in loose clothing to let more air circulate. (This means nixing the plastic pants.) For those with painful rashes, try letting baby sleep without a nappy, but make sure to protect the mattress first.
Take preventative measures by applying a thin layer of nappy rash ointment after every changing. But make sure the skin is dry first, otherwise you'll just be trapping in more moisture.
Nappy change time
Switch to a different type of nappy If you use disposables, try switching to a different brand (preferably one that uses more natural materials) or trying hybrid or cloth options. If using cloth, see if a disposable nappy improves his condition.
Check in with a doctor if a rash doesn't clear up in a couple of days or if you see oozing, blistering sores. In very rare cases, a paediatric dermatologist might be needed.
Find more about Nappies and bottom care
- All nappy articles
- Baby poo: An essential guide for every new parent
- Cloth nappies
- Cloth nappy covers
- Cloth nappy styles
- Disposable nappies
- Nappies and the environment
- Nappy liners
- Nappy-free baby
- Washing cloth nappies
- Nappy rash
- Newborns and nappies
- Toilet training a baby: is it possible?
Written by Linda Drummond for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading pregnancy and parenting resource.