A Guide For Parents On Dealing With Nappy Rash

Everything you need to know about nappy rash and how to help baby regain comfort

Most parents — especially new ones — tend to panic whenever they see rash on their baby’s nappy area. It’s a normal incident, and it doesn’t make you a bad parent. Dealing with nappy rash is basic in childcare, most particularly in the early years of infancy.

The first thing you need to know is how it looks like. If your baby’s nappy area looks red and irritated, that’s nappy rash. The skin may also look a little swollen and warm when you feel it. Mild nappy rash manifests a few sensitive red spots in a small area; whereas, severe nappy rash looks like tender red bumps that normally spreads to your baby’s stomach and thigh area.

Next thing you need to know is how your baby developed the rash. Nappy rash can be caused by anything from a new type of food that you baby ate for the first time, to your baby’s own urine. Below are the most common triggers of nappy rash:


When your baby’s urine mixes with bacteria from his stool, it breaks down and forms ammonia, which can be very harsh to the skin.

Abrasive rubbing or chemical sensitivity

Your baby’s rash may be the result of his nappy rubbing against his or her skin, especially if there’s sensitivity to chemicals like fragrances or detergents used to wash a cloth nappy.

New foods

It's normal for children to get nappy rash when they start eating solid foods or are introduced to a new food. Any new food changes the composition of the stool

Bacterial or yeast infection

The nappy area is warm and moist — just the way bacteria and yeast like it. So it's easy for a bacterial or yeast infection to flourish there and cause a rash, especially in the cracks and folds of your child's skin.


Children on antibiotics (or whose breastfeeding mothers are on antibiotics) sometimes get yeast infections because these drugs reduce the number of healthy bacteria that help keep yeast in check as well as the harmful bacteria they're meant to destroy. Antibiotics can also cause diarrhea, which can contribute to nappy rash.

So what's the most effective way to treat it?

Keep your baby clean and dry by changing his nappy frequently. That may mean getting him up at night for a nappy change. When doing this, rinse his nappy area well. Don't use wipes that contain alcohol or fragrance. Some parents keep cotton balls and a squirt bottle or an insulated container of warm water at the changing table for easy, gentle cleanups. Pat your child's skin dry — don't rub!

Use an ointment that forms a protective barrier on the skin after every nappy change to help protect your child's irritated skin from stool and urine. There are several good barrier ointments on the market, including petroleum ointment or petroleum jelly, nonpetroleum jelly, lanolin products, and white zinc oxide.

Put your child's nappy on loosely or use a nappy that's a little big on him to allow for better air circulation. If you buy disposables, try a different brand to see if that helps. There are varieties for sensitive skin, for example, and extra-absorbent options will pull more moisture away from your child's skin.

When the weather is warm and your child can play outside or in a room with a floor that's easy to clean, leave his nappy (and ointment) off for as long as possible every day. Exposure to the air will speed healing. Consider letting your child sleep with a bare bottom whenever he has a rash. A plastic sheet under the cloth one will help protect the mattress.

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