Top 10 tips to prevent nappy rash

Nappy rash is a common skin condition in babies. It’s usually caused by skin irritation, often from moisture from your baby’s wees and poos, or due to friction from the nappy rubbing.  Nappy rash can appear quite quickly, and for no obvious reason. A case may be mild and bearable, but if it becomes severe, it can be highly distressing to a baby.

The main symptom of nappy rash is red, irritated skin in the nappy area. It may also be spotty in appearance, and be sensitive when the area is wiped.

Prevention is the key. Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do to avoid it.

Here are our 10 top tips to prevent nappy rash

1. Change your baby’s nappy regularly

A baby under 12 months should have at least 5-7 nappy changes in 24 hours. This minimises the time your baby’s sensitive skin is in contact with moisture. Wee and poo contain ammonia, which is very irritating to the skin. 

2. Use water to clean the area

Some babies, particularly newborns, can find baby wipes too irritating to their skin. Use either water-based wipes, cloth wipes or cotton wool dampened with lukewarm water. Wipe gently, and pat dry with a clean towel or cloth wipe.

3. Avoid soaps or perfumed moisturisers

There’s usually no need to add anything to the bath or use any moisturisers unless your baby has eczema. If necessary, choose gentle, natural products designed for sensitive skin. Do not use talcum powders or antiseptics. 

4. Apply a barrier cream at every nappy change

A thick zinc-based barrier cream will prevent the moisture and irritants from reaching the skin if applied after each nappy change. These creams are usually available from your supermarket or pharmacy. Warm it up in your hands first to make spreading it on your baby’s skin easier.

5. Give your baby nappy-free time

Try to leave your baby’s nappy off whenever you can. Read our tips for nappy free time as well as all of its additional benefits. 

6. Use good quality disposable nappies

The better quality the nappies are, the better designed they are at drawing the moisture away from a baby’s skin, helping to keep it dry. 

7. Wash your cloth nappies well

Ask your cloth nappy manufacturer for their recommendations on detergent to ensure all odours and stains are thoroughly removed. Using hot water plus doing a pre-wash cycle are also essential steps, but you can read our article how to wash modern cloth nappies for more details.

8. Look at what your baby is eating

If you’re doing all of the steps above, and your baby is still getting nappy rashes, it could be something they’re eating. Some foods, such as acidic tomatoes, oranges, and strawberries, are also common causes of nappy rash.

9. Treat any other rashes

Thrush can also cause nappy rash. The type of yeast that causes thrush thrives in warm moist areas, and needs to be treated with a specific anti-fungal cream. Take your baby to see your GP if your baby develops a rash that looks like pimples or is red and shiny, with defined edges surrounding it.

10. When they’re teething

Teething doesn’t directly cause nappy rash, but babies can have diarrhoea during teething, increasing the likelihood of a rash. So, continue to follow the steps above, and change your baby as soon as they’ve soiled their nappy (which may be more frequent than usual), and remember to apply more barrier cream.

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