Nappy rash

What causes it, and how to prevent it

Here’s an amazing statistic for you: Before your newborn learns to use the potty, you’ll have changed his or her nappy around 4,000 times.

That’s a lot of nappies – but it’s also a lot of potential irritation for your baby’s delicate skin. Nappy rash can be caused by a number of things, such as accumulated moisture, friction from a too-tight nappy, and bits of wee or poo that get missed during a nappy change. Mild cases may just cause a bit of redness in the nappy area, but if left untreated, these areas can become very red, weepy and irritated, and can even lead to infection – not to mention a lot of discomfort for your baby!

Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to prevent nappy rash from happening, or to stop it in its tracks before it gets serious. The key to prevention is to follow the “ABCDE rule”:

A: Air. Trapped moisture irritates your baby’s delicate skin and encourages germs to grow, so make sure your baby’s nappy area is thoroughly dry before putting on a clean nappy, and give your little one some nappy-free time (on a towel, of course!) whenever you can.

B: Barriers. Even the best nappies can’t whisk away all the wee and poo from your baby’s skin, so coating delicate areas with a layer of barrier cream containing zinc will give an extra bit of protection.

C: Cleansing. This one’s particularly important, because the longer your baby’s wee and poo are in contact with the skin, the more likely it is to become irritated. Check your baby’s nappy frequently (and we do mean frequently - newborns can wee up to 20 times a day!) and be thorough with the wipes or cotton wool, especially in skin folds where residues can hide. Again, gently pat or blow the skin dry before putting on a clean nappy.

D: Diapers. (Well, nappies, really.) Choose nappies that have a high absorbency rate, and make sure they fit correctly – you should be able to fit a finger between your baby’s belly and the top of the nappy.

E: Education. Knowing what causes nappy rash is the first step to preventing it – so congratulations, you’ve already ticked this box!

Giving nappy rash the boot

Sometimes, no matter how thorough you are, your baby may get a nappy rash. If it’s a mild redness, some extra nappy-free time, combined with gentle, thorough cleansing and a good dab of barrier cream, may do the trick.

But if your little one’s nappy area is bright red, moist and painful, it’s time to contact your chemist, GP or health visitor. They will be able to recommend a cream or lotion with a stronger anti-inflammatory and disinfecting action to help give nappy rash the boot once and for all.