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How to prevent nappy rash

Nappy rash is a common skin condition affecting the skin of a baby’s nappy area. Most babies experience some nappy rash in the first 18 months, whether they wear disposable or re-usable nappies.

Nappy rash usually clears up on its own and will not be a problem once the baby is potty trained.

Nappy rash causes

  • Needing more frequent nappy changes, being in contact for too long with urine or poo.
  • Friction: Nappy rash can be caused by friction, rubbing or chafing that develops when sensitive baby skin is rubbed by wet nappies. This results in a red, shiny rash on exposed areas.
  • Allergic reaction: The baby may have sensitive skin and the rash may be a reaction to baby wipes, nappies, soap, detergent or bubble bath.
  • Diarrhoea or other tummy upset.

Nappy rash symptoms

Identifying a nappy rash is usually fairly easy. The rash is located on skin underneath the nappy area.

The skin is red and irritated. It may appear all over your baby's bottom or genital area, or only in certain places. It may or may not involve the folds of the skin.

If the rash doesn’t clear up or the baby has a persistent bright red, moist rash with white or red pimples, spreading to the folds of the skin, it may be thrush. Seek medical advice from your health visitor, GP or pharmacist about using age-appropriate anti-fungal cream.

Preventing nappy rash

Prevention is the most effective way to treat nappy rash.

Babies may need as many as 10 or 12 nappy changes a day when they are young. Even older babies need changing at least six to eight times a day. Look for the tell-tale signs that a nappy change is needed and change wet or soiled nappies as soon as you can.

Technique when cleaning the baby during a nappy change is important to help prevent nappy rash. Wipe from front to back using just water or baby wipes.

It is good to get some air to the baby's bottom. Lie them on a towel and leave the nappy off for as long as possible.

A barrier cream, such as zinc and castor oil, can also help prevent nappy rash.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on August 14, 2013

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