Nappy rash

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Nappy rash is the common term used to describe the rash that appears on the skin in the nappy area. Continue reading for important hygiene advice and treatment options to resolve the condition...

What is nappy rash?

Nappy rash is an acute inflammatory reaction of the skin in the nappy area, which is most commonly caused by an irritant contact dermatitis. It is also known as ‘napkin dermatitis’ or ‘diaper dermatitis’. It commonly affects babies, especially between the ages of 9 and 12 months. However, this condition can affect individuals of any age who require nappies or pads for treatment of incontinence.

Nappy rash can be caused by:

  • your baby’s skin being in contact with a wet or dirty nappy for a long time
  • the nappy rubbing against your baby’s skin
  • not cleaning the nappy area or changing the nappy often enough
  • soap, detergent or bubble bath
  • alcohol-based baby wipes
  • your baby recently taking antibiotics

There may be red patches on your baby’s bottom, or the whole area may be red. Their skin may look sore and feel hot to touch. Sometimes there are spots, pimples or blisters. Most babies with mild nappy rash don’t feel sore, but if the rash is severe your baby may feel discomfort and be distressed.

Should I seek medical advice?

The best way to deal with nappy rash is to try to prevent your baby from getting it in the first place. These simple steps will help prevent nappy rash as well as help you to clear it up. Nappy rash usually clears up after about 3 days if you follow these hygiene tips.

  • Change wet or dirty nappies as soon as possible.
  • Clean the whole nappy area gently but thoroughly, wiping from front to back. Use water or fragrance-free and alcohol-free baby wipes. Read more about how to clean your baby.
  • Bath your baby daily – but avoid bathing them more than twice a day as that may dry out their skin.
  • Dry your baby gently after washing them – avoid vigorous rubbing.
  • Lie your baby on a towel and leave their nappy off for as long and as often as you can to let fresh air get to their skin.
  • Do not use soap, bubble bath, or lotions.
  • Do not use talcum powder as it contains ingredients that could irritate your baby’s skin.

If your baby gets nappy rash, you can usually treat their skin yourself. If the rash isn’t upsetting your baby, at each nappy change apply a thin layer of a barrier cream to protect their skin. If the rash is causing your baby discomfort, there are nappy rash creams that a pharmacist can recommend to treat it. You should apply the cream first and wait a few minutes before you apply the barrier cream. For recommendations regarding which cream is most suitable for your baby’s rash, book a telephone consultation with one of our pharmacists.

If the rash doesn’t go away or your baby develops a persistent bright red, moist rash with white or red pimples that spreads into the folds of their skin, they may have an infection. If you bring this to the attention of your pharmacist during the consultation, they may be able to recommend a cream for you to use on the infection.

If the rash is severe, take your baby to the GP to be prescribed a cream or medicine. Follow your GP’s instructions on whether and when to apply barrier cream as well as the prescribed cream.

Next steps…

If your child is suffering from nappy rash, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by booking a free telephone consultation with one of our experienced pharmacists for advice and support.

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