Nappy Rash and Baby’s Sensitive Skin

Nappy rash also known as “Diaper dermatitis”. It is very common and can happen no matter how careful you are. Some babies with the best care still get a lot of nappy rash, while others hardly get it at all so a lot depends on how sensitive the child’s skin is.

In addition, a germ called Candida albicans commonly thrives in the nappy area once the skin has become red and damaged causing “Nappy thrush”. Candida can cause a more inflamed rash which may include darker red spots spreading around the nappy area. This will show as a very red area with spots around it. Special creams are available which clear this type of rash quickly, so see the baby?s doctor or child health nurse if the nappy rash doesn’t clear in a day or so.

Causes of nappy rash

Babies have sensitive skin. The skin quickly becomes red and irritated when left exposed for too long to ammonia. Nappy rash is a result of the ammonia in the urine and bowel excrements being exposed to the skin of the buttock. Another cause is moisture; nappy rash can also be caused by inadequate drying after bathing a baby but usually that rash is confined to the skin creases at the top of a baby’s thighs.

Babies may also develop nappy rash through allergic reactions when they move on to eating solids, particularly citrus fruit, peas and raisins which aren’t digested easily. As a result it can increase the irritant composition of the stool and urine and cause nappy rash.

Some parents report that nappy rash is worse when their baby is teething; others suggest that a change from disposable to cloth nappies or vice versa causes the flair up of the rash. Some detergents may also trigger it in some babies.

What are the symptoms of nappy rash?

  • A red, tender skin in the nappy area (groin, around genitals, buttocks and/or the anus).
  • With more severe nappy rash, your baby may develop bright red spots, dry, cracked or broken skin and possibly swellings, ulcers and blisters on the skin around the nappy area.
  • There may be broken skin and your baby may feel a hurtful sensation when excreting urine or baby stools.
  • Your baby may be irritable at nappy changing time.
  • The rash can sometimes spread down the legs or up on to the tummy.
  • There may be small raised spots visible too.
  • Nappy rash can be painful for your baby. The baby may seem more restless and cry more often. Some conditions may need medical attention.

How can I avoid nappy rash?

Best way to keep the baby’s bottom as rash-free as possible is to change nappies often so that urine and poo is not in contact with skin for too long. Keep a close watch on the baby’s hygiene. Wash the baby’s skin gently with water or a wet cloth. If using baby wipes, choose ones without alcohol to avoid pain, especially when there is a rash present. After cleaning, put on some zinc cream or other nappy rash cream to keep wetness off of the skin. Don’t use tight-fitting plastic pants over nappies. They keep in moisture and may make things worse. And do not use powder such as talcum powder which may irritate the skin and can cause distress to your baby when inhaled.

Make sure to leave the nappy off for a while during playtime to allow air dry the skin and if a baby has a nappy rash, it may be helpful to use disposable nappies which draw the urine away from the baby’s skin, keeping it dry.

Do not ignore if the baby starts showing irritation on the nappy. Consult your doctor if needed.

Nappy rash remedies and treatment

Mild steroid cream or ointment – Steroids can reduce inflammation in the involved areas. A steroid cream or ointment should not usually be used for more than seven days. Seek consultation to your baby’s doctor to know the correct instruction on how to apply the medication.

An antifungal cream – This is typically applied 2-3 times a day. Unlike a steroid cream, continue to use an antifungal rash cream for 7-10 days after the rash has cleared to make sure all the Candida germs have gone.

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