What does nappy rash look like?
If your baby has nappy rash, you'll know it. Some of the skin covered by the nappy - probably the genital area, the folds of the thighs and the buttocks - will appear red and inflamed. The affected areas can either be dry or moist and sometimes look pimply.
If the basic nappy rash isn't treated, it can grow into something worse - for example, a fungal infection, such as yeast, or a bacterial infection. Yeast infections are more common in babies taking antibiotics and typically begin as tiny red spots which multiply and mass into a solid red blotch. Bacterial infections, which can be accompanied by fever, usually cause oozing yellow patches or pus-filled pimples.
What causes nappy rash?
The main cause is wetness. Newborns urinate often and have frequent, loose bowel movements. Even the most absorbent nappy leaves some moisture on a baby's delicate new skin. A baby left in a dirty nappy for too long is more likely to develop nappy rash; however, it can still strike the bottoms of babies with particularly sensitive skin, even if their parents are frequent nappy changers.
Older babies who are sick and taking antibiotics may get diarrhoea (a side effect), which can cause nappy rash.
What's the best way to treat it?
The best remedy is to keep your baby clean and dry by changing her nappy frequently. If the weather is warm and she can play outside or in a room with an easy-clean floor, leave her nappy off for as long as possible to allow the air to speed up the healing process.
You might also try switching disposable nappies and detergents to fragrance and additive-free brands: they'll probably clear up the problem if the nappy rash is allergy-based.
A normal nappy rash should clear up after three or four days of at-home treatment. If your baby's rash persists, spreads, or otherwise worsens, try an anti-yeast cream for a few days.
How can I help prevent nappy rash?
The best defense against nappy rash is a dry bottom. To help, follow these five easy steps:
• Change your baby's nappy as soon as possible after it becomes wet or soiled.
• Clean your baby's genital area thoroughly after each bowel movement, and allow it to dry.
• Coat your baby's bottom with a thin layer of protective ointment, but don't use talcum powder - it can get into a baby's lungs – rather use household maizena on your baby’s bum.
• Don't fasten nappies so tightly that there's no room for air to circulate. Nappies, wraps and clothing should fit somewhat loosely to let your baby's bottom breathe.
• When your baby starts solid foods, introduce only one new item at a time, and wait a few days between introductions. That way it'll be easier to determine if nappy rash is due to a food allergy.