In this section

Baby


All you need to know about nappy rash

print page image

Your baby is likely to get nappy rash at least once before he’s 18 months old. It’s most likely between nine and 12 months – because he’s started eating solids but is still sitting for a lot of the time.

What does nappy rash look like?

It will affect skin under the nappy, which will look red and sore, possibly with spots or even blisters. It may feel hot, too. It can appear in patches or all over.

What causes nappy rash?

  • A reaction to soap, bubble bath, washing powder or baby wipes.
  • Friction, when the nappy has been rubbing your baby’s delicate skin (particularly if the nappy is wet).
  • Being in a wet or dirty nappy for too long – wee and poo contains an acid that irritates the skin. 
  • Diarrhoea or other illness will make it more likely.

How do you prevent and treat nappy rash?

Taking great care when changing nappies can prevent nappy rash and treat mild cases.

  • Let air get to the skin by leaving your baby without a nappy for as long as possible – lie him on a towel or old, folded up sheet (but change it straight away if it becomes wet).
  • Change nappies as soon as they become wet or dirty. 
  • Clean thoroughly but gently, wiping from front to back. Use plain water or unfragranced baby wipes and pat dry – don’t rub.
  • Don’t use soap or talcum powder, which can make things worse by irritating the skin.
  • Apply a thin layer of barrier cream, such as zinc and castor oil, just before putting on a nappy. Don’t be tempted to slather it on – it will transfer to the nappy and stop the nappy absorbing moisture properly
  • Don’t use plastic pants.

If the rash doesn’t go away, ask your health visitor or pharmacist to recommend a nappy rash cream. If it gets worse or spreads, you should see your GP – and see them immediately if your baby develops a fever as well.

Could it be thrush?

Unfortunately the germ that causes thrush, called Candida, loves inflamed skin and skin creases. If your baby’s rash becomes a deeper red and develops red or white pimples, it could be thrush and you will need an antifungal cream from a pharmacist or on prescription from your GP. It’s important to continue using this for a week or so after the rash clears up, to make sure it doesn’t come back.

Other skin problems

If your baby’s rash produces pus or a yellow crust, it may be impetigo, a bacterial infection. This will need to be treated with antibiotics from your GP.

Skin conditions including eczema or psoriasis, although less common, can cause similar rashes. These will not respond to the usual treatment for nappy rash so again, if the rash doesn’t clear up, always see your GP.

For happy, healthy bottoms