Nappy rashes are common amongst babies at one point or another. The good news is it will usually be a mild outbreak that won't negatively impact your child.
A nappy rash will cause pink or red blotches that irritate your baby's skin. It tends to develop when between the ages of 9 and 12 months old.
The following guide will explore the ins and outs of nappy rashes so that you can minimise their effect and keep your baby comfortable.
Causes of Nappy Rash
In a nutshell, nappy rash is a skin inflammation. Most cases are due to a reaction of the skin to urine and faeces. What's more, a germ called Candida (the common cause of Thrush) commonly thrives on inflamed skin. This fungus can then cause a more serious rash which may include darker red spots that spread themselves around the nappy area - hence the term 'nappy thrush'.
As mentioned, most nappy rashes are mild and can be treated with some simple skin care. Usually, your child won't feel pain or major discomfort.
Some nappy rashes are more severe however and can be the result of bacterial infection or other underlying conditions such as such as eczema, psoriasis and some types of skin disease. In these rare cases the rash is distressing and painful for your baby. He/she will then require treatment with medication.
How to Clear or Prevent a Nappy Rash
As a norm, be sure to change your baby's nappy often. Ideally, you should change the nappy as soon as it is wet or soiled. This will prevent their skin from coming becoming irritated by contact with urine and faeces for long periods.
The first thing to do if your baby has a rash is to leave the nappy off as much as possible so that fresh air can reach their skin and ease the irritation. Let your baby lie without a nappy on a towel or disposable absorbent sheet for a while each day, and change the towel or sheet as soon as it becomes wet.
Secondly, wash your baby's bottom with water only because soaps can irritate their skin further. Non-alcoholic 'wet wipes' are a good alternative when you're out and about.
After completing their wash, make sure your baby's bottom is properly dry before putting on a new nappy, this is very important. Dry thoroughly with a towel, being careful to do this by patting instead of rubbing. You can also buy barrier creams or ointments from pharmacies to help protect their skin from moisture - you will simply rub on a thin layer just before putting on each nappy. Do not apply too much of the cream however as this can reduce the breathability of the nappy.
Another important tip is to not use talcum powder during a nappy rash outbreak as this will also irritate the skin. Also, don't use tight-fitting plastic pants over nappies as they keep in moisture which will make the condition worse.
Treatments for Nappy Rash
My outline above on how to clear or prevent a nappy rash will effectively tackle a mild nappy rash. If it gets more severe however, try the following treatments - but if you're not sure what's best, check with your doctor or ask a pharmacist:
A mild steroid ointment will be effective at reducing inflammation. Be careful to apply the cream sparingly and as often as prescribed until the rash has cleared - this could take a few days, but bear in mind that a steroid ointment should not usually be used for more than seven days. Finally, be sure to apply the cream before using a barrier ointment.
This treatment will kill the Candida fungus. It is generally to be applied 2-3 times a day. Unlike steroid cream, you will continue to use an antifungal cream on your baby for 7-10 days after the rash has cleared to ensure all the Candida germs have been destroyed.
Antibiotics will be prescribed for your baby if their inflamed skin from a nappy rash becomes infected with bacteria or other types of germs. This will often be diagnosed by your doctor if the rash becomes worse despite using the above measures. It's important to consult your doctor if the nappy rash won't clear because it could be the result of a potentially serious skin infection.
By following the above advice, you should be able to both prevent and clear a nappy rash. The main thing to remember is that in most cases it is not a serious condition. As mentioned, if it doesn't seem to be getting better, be sure to let your GP have a look.