Nappy rash refers to a diffuse rash on the area of skin that is covered by the nappy. Nappy rash is a very common condition. It is seldom harmful and provided the cause is recognised and treated correctly, it is also easy to manage at home. At least 1 in every 2 infants will suffer from nappy rash at some stage. Some babies will suffer repeatedly from nappy rash and others may only develop the rash once or twice.
What causes Nappy Rash?
A nappy rash can usually be attributed to a combination of factors.
Moisture: Young babies urinate frequently, and their stool is often soft. This combined with infrequent nappy changes results in prolonged exposure to moisture.
Irritation: Ammonia from the urine, soaps, creams and powders, residual chemicals on washed nappies
Friction: The baby’s skin is very delicate and constant friction against the nappy can cause chaffing. This, combined with moisture and exposure to irritants, causes an uncomfortable rash.
Infection: If there is no improvement in the rash within 5 days after implementing corrective measures and treatment, then consider an infection as a cause.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Red rash that is usually well demarcated and raw.
- Skin erosion and scaling may occur.
- Itching and stinging may occur.
Consult your doctor if the following signs or symptoms appear:
- Bright red, well demarcated rash.
- Extends to the folds of the skin and presents with tiny, white pustules.
- Skin is warm to touch.
Advice and Management of Nappy Rash:
- Remember that the damaged and raw skin is very sensitive. Soaps and other chemicals are therefore likely to sting the affected area.
- Wash with warm water and soft cotton wool.
- If soap is required, then make sure that it is not an irritant.
- Ensure that the baby’s bottom is dried properly before putting on the new nappy.
- Gently dab the area dry using a soft towel or cotton wool.
- Areas where the damaged or raw skin is exposed to bacterial infection, it is important to keep these areas clean and apply a gentle antiseptic cream if necessary.
- Prevent prolonged exposure to wetness and irritants by changing the diapers frequently.
- It is also important to expose the skin to fresh air. Leave the diaper off as often as possible and for as long as possible. Remember that a baby’s skin is very delicate and will burn easily under the harsh South African sun. Don’t let the baby crawl around uncovered outside between 10am and 4pm.
- The application of a barrier cream, Bennetts Baby Bum Crème, on the skin before putting on the diaper helps to reduce contact with the irritants found in the urine and faeces.
- Don’t fasten the nappy too tight.
- Babies with diarrhoea are more likely to develop a nappy rash and should therefore have their nappies changed more often.