Mother and Baby

Baby Health A-Z: Nappy Rash

Nappy rash – if your baby gets this you’ll definitely know about it. But there are ways to soothe his tears – and his bottom

What is it?

If your baby’s bottom is looking red and sore, there's no need to instantly think of eczema and dermatitis. It’s probably a simple nappy rash – a skin irritation that most babies will have at some point. ‘It’s likely to occur between nine and 12 months,’ says health visitor Anne White.

Nappy Rash Symptoms?

Nappy rash is usually mild and consists of pink or reddish blotches or spots on your baby’s bottom and nappy area. ‘It shouldn’t be painful, although it may sting if it comes into contact with wee and poo,’ says Dr Tamara Griffiths, a dermatologist from the British Skin Foundation Blisters could appear in severe cases, which can spread down his legs.

Causes of Nappy Rash

In most cases, nappy rash is caused when your baby’s skin becomes irritated due to prolonged contact with faeces and urine. ‘Over time, the urea and nitrogen in his waste react together to form ammonia – creating that distinct wee smell – which then irritates his skin,’ says Dr Griffiths.

Most babies will get nappy rash at some point

If your baby has diarrhoea, this may cause nappy rash, while poos and wees after very acidic foods like fruit can also inflame skin. Sometimes the rash can be caused by a yeast called candida, which thrives in moist, warm areas like the nappy.

‘It can also be triggered by an allergy to the chemicals in disposable nappies, such as sodium polyacrylate, which is the absorbent gel, or the fabric conditioners used to wash reusable ones, so try different types and brands,’ says Anne.

Treatment and Prevention of Nappy Rash

Change your baby’s nappy or throw it into washing if it's a reusable nappy as soon as possible to reduce the chance of waste irritating his skin.

‘Let your baby have some nappy free time to help dry the skin out,’ says Anne. ‘Pop him in an empty bath with his toys to save carpets from accidents.’

Treat irritation with a nappy rash cream, available from pharmacies or supermarkets. ‘Rub in after each nappy change to protect your baby’s skin and stop it getting too moist,’ says Anne.

See your GP if…

The rash looks very inflamed or infected. ‘Your GP may prescribe a mild steroid cream to help reduce itching and redness,’ says Dr Griffiths. ‘If the rash is caused by candida, you may need an antifungal cream.’

Related content: