Up to a third of babies and toddlers in nappies have nappy rash at any one time. It doesn’t usually develop in newborns, but all babies can get nappy rash. Nappy rash can be caused by:
- your baby’s skin being in contact with wee or poo (stools) for a long time
- the nappy rubbing against your baby’s skin
- not cleaning the nappy area or changing the nappy often enough
- soap, detergent or bubble bath
- alcohol-based baby wipes
- your baby recently taking antibiotics
There may be red patches on your baby’s bottom, or the whole area may be red. Their skin may look sore and feel hot to touch, and there may be spots, pimples or blisters. Most babies with mild nappy rash don’t feel sore, but if the rash is severe your baby may feel uncomfortable and be distressed.
How can I prevent Nappy Rash?
The best way to deal with nappy rash is to try to prevent your baby getting it in the first place; the simple steps below will help prevent nappy rash, as well as help you to clear it up. Follow this advice to help look after your baby’s skin.
- Change wet or dirty nappies as soon as possible.
- Clean the whole nappy area gently but thoroughly, wiping from front to back. Use water or fragrance-free and alcohol-free baby wipes.
- Bath your baby daily – but avoid bathing them more than twice a day as that may dry out their skin.
- Dry your baby gently after washing them – avoid vigorous rubbing.
- Lay your baby on a towel and leave their nappy off for as long and as often as you can to let fresh air get to their skin.
- Do not use soap, bubble bath, or lotions.
- Do not use talcum powder as it contains ingredients that could irritate your baby’s skin.
How do I treat?
If your baby gets nappy rash, you can usually treat their skin yourself without the need to visit the GP. If the rash isn’t upsetting your baby, at each nappy change apply a thin layer of a barrier cream to protect their skin. Ask your health visitor or pharmacist to recommend one.
Follow the advice above in preventing nappy rash to help look after your baby’s skin.
Nappy rash usually clears up after about three days if you follow these hygiene tips. However, if the rash is causing your baby discomfort you may wish to give your health visitor or GP a call.
When should I seek advice?
- If the rash is causing your baby discomfort
- If the rash doesn’t go away or baby develops a persistent bright red, moist rash with white or red pimples that spreads into the folds of their skin as this could be a sign of infection.
- If the rash is severe
Take your baby to the GP who may prescribe cream or medicine. Follow your GP’s instructions on whether and when to apply barrier cream as well as the prescribed cream.
It’s normal for babies to develop skin rashes, but it’s important to know the difference between a minor irritation and a condition that requires attention. Use the Baby rashes a visual guide on the NHS website to familiarise yourself with everything from nappy rash and eczema to impetigo and meningitis.