THE LOW DOWN ON NAPPY RASH
Almost every baby at some stage throughout infancy will experience the common nappy rash, no matter how carefully you look after a baby’s bottom.
So what is nappy rash, how can you look out for it and what causes it?
Nappy rash is an inflammation of the skin in the nappy area that can be identified by its red and spotty nature, and may also include skin pustules. The skin is often raw and tender and can be extremely uncomfortable for a baby.
Nappy rash is caused by skin irritation and the breakdown of the skin barrier, which acts as the natural seal on top of the skin made up of protein and oil to keep moisture and skin intact and thwart off possible infection. Due to a baby’s super-sensitive skin, nappy rash is exacerbated by moisture contact from soiling. In other words, it’s not a hygiene problem, it’s simply your baby’s routine actions of weeing and pooing that can result in irritation!
It’s something that can appear all year round, but some parents may see it more during the warmer months. This is due to the baby soiling more frequently because of increased water intake.
What can you do to prevent and treat nappy rash?
While nappy rash is a common skin eruption, some handy tips to prevent it include:
• Keeping moisture to a minimum: After bathing your baby, ensure the nappy area is dabbed dry.
• Knowing your nappies: Disposable nappies are much more absorbent than cloth nappies. If using disposable nappies, they can be changed every 4-5 hours or when soiled. Cloth nappies, on the other hand, need to be changed more frequently, every 1-2 hours. During summer, when your baby has more fluids, remember to change nappies more regularly.
• Nappy-free time: When possible, aim for nappy-free time 30 minutes at a time, a few times a day. This gives your baby’s skin the chance to be free of any possible irritants.
• Gently dabbing to clean your baby’s skin: Do not rub your baby’s skin as it can cause friction and further irritation. Always dab lightly to clean or dry your baby’s skin.
No matter how diligent you are with your baby’s skin, nappy rashes can still occur. The good news is that mild nappy rashes can often go away by using a cream or spray that targets the issue. If the nappy rash is more severe, antibiotics, anti-yeast or topical steroids may be used. In the case of severe nappy rash, use a damp cloth to clean babies instead.
To prevent and treat nappy rash, use topical treatments that contain the ingredient Zinc Oxide. Zinc Oxide is the most active ingredient that helps to soothe and relieve skin inflammation/reduce skin irritation.
When treating nappy rash, apply a thick layer of a cream containing Zinc Oxide at every nappy change. Be sure to be gentle when applying the cream to your baby’s skin.
A Zinc Oxide spray can be used for ease of convenience when travelling with your baby. It is also ideal for minimising the risk of hygiene issues as there is no risk of contamination if there are multiple babies using the spray. To treat the affected area, apply 1-2 spritzes.
When to seek medical advice?
Beware of nappy rash if you notice that it spreads quickly across your baby’s skin as it can usually a sign of an infection. If your baby’s nappy rash persists and does not improve within a few days, always seek professional medical advice.
Always read the label. Follow directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.
Dr Leona Yip MBChB PhD FACD
Consultant Dermatologist and Skin Surgeon