Advice on soothing your baby's nappy rash with information on why rashes develop in the nappy area, what you can do to prevent them and when you should see a dr
At some point or another most infants suffer from nappy rash; red, inflamed skin around the nappy area that may appear chapped or spotty. This can be very uncomfortable for your baby and you may notice that it can often make them irritable. Some babies frequently suffer from nappy rash while others only develop it occasionally. It does seem to be that babies who suffer from dry or sensitive skin conditions are more likely to develop this, perhaps because their natural skin defences aren't so high.
Why does it develop?
The predominant cause of nappy rash is the exposure of baby's delicate skin to stale urine and faeces as theses contain chemicals that irritate the skin and with prolonged exposure start to break down its natural barrier. The warm, wet atmosphere of a dirty nappy also encourages the development of bacteria which given the opportunity can infect the skin. However, nappy rash can also be cause by irritation to a specific type of nappy or washing powder or by rubbing and friction as your baby moves around.
How to soothe nappy rash
The best way to prevent and soothe nappy rash is by changing your baby's nappy as often as possible, making sure they don't sit in a dirty nappy for long periods of time. It is also important to clean your baby's skin thoroughly during a change; warm water and cotton wool will be best for a wet nappy while a little soapy water or baby lotion will help remove residue after a soiled nappy. Barrier or moisturiser creams can help to protect your baby's skin although you should ensure you dry the nappy area thoroughly before applying - patting gently with a towel is kinder to baby's skin than rubbing. Talcum powder, scented soaps and wet wipes should be given a miss as these can be an irritant.
Letting your baby have some nappy free time every day will do wanders for reducing nappy rash as it exposes usually enclosed skin to the air. You should also make sure that your baby is drinking plenty of fluids as this will help to dilute the urine and make it less irritating to the skin.
Using a non-bio washing powder and sensitive skin fabric softener will help prevent irritation from cloth nappies and plastic pants should be given a miss as they don't let the skin breathe. Disposable nappies do tend to draw moisture away from the skin better than cloth nappies so it can be worthwhile switching if your baby is suffering. However, if you already use disposables you could try switching to another brand to see if these are less irritating to your baby's skin.
When to see the doctor
Nappy rash isn't infectious and should clear up in several days if the area is kept clean and dry. In the meantime you may like to ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable barrier cream to soothe the area and help it heal. However, if you notice the rash begins to spread away from the nappy area, weep or blister you should visit your doctor as a fungal or bacterial infection may have developed.
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