Mild nappy rash
If your baby has a mild nappy rash, they will not normally need any medication or specialist treatment. Instead, there are steps you can take to safely treat the rash at home.
Leave your baby's nappy off as long as possible
Not putting a nappy on your baby will help them to stay dry and avoid contact with faeces or urine. It is usually most convenient to leave your baby's nappy off when they are asleep. You can lay them on an absorbent towel or somewhere where you can easily manage any soiling or wetting.
Avoid using soaps when cleaning your baby's skin
Only use water to clean your baby's nappy area in between changes. Use a soft material, such as cotton wool or a soft towel, when drying. Dab the affected area carefully and avoid rubbing their skin vigorously.
Avoid bathing your baby more than twice a day. Experts think this may dry out their skin and cause a more severe nappy rash.
Apply a barrier cream every time you change their nappy
Using a barrier cream or ointment after each nappy change will reduce the contact that your baby's skin has with urine and faeces. Zinc cream, zinc oxide ointment and petroleum jelly are all suitable barrier creams. Ask your pharmacist for advice about which cream is most suitable for your baby.
Change your baby's nappy frequently
To lower the risk of your baby getting nappy rash, change your baby's nappy as soon as they wet or soil it. If your baby has nappy rash, make sure you change their nappy more frequently than you normally would.
Consider changing the type of nappy you are using
If you are using disposable nappies, use one that is highly absorbent. However, these are often more expensive than other nappies. If you cannot use high-absorbency nappies, make sure you change the nappy frequently; ideally, as soon as your baby wets or soils it.
Severe nappy rash
If your baby has severe nappy rash, they usually need medication to treat the condition. Your GP will first check that you have been carrying out the skin care routines advised for a mild nappy rash (see above).
Once your GP is satisfied that the correct skin care routines are being followed, they usually prescribe some topical medicines to treat the rash. 'Topical' means that the medicine is applied directly to the affected area (in this case, the nappy area).
Corticosteroids help to reduce inflammation of the skin and relieve any itching and redness. Hydrocortisone cream is often prescribed. You have to apply it to your baby's skin once a day. You can stop using hydrocortisone as soon as the rash has cleared, but do not use it for more than seven days in a row.
An anticandidal medicine helps to treat any fungal infection that may be causing your baby's rash. Some commonly prescribed anticandidal medicines include:
These are creams that usually have to be applied to your baby's nappy area two to three times a day. However, unlike topical corticosteroids (which you stop using once your baby's rash has cleared up), anticandidals have to be used for 7 to 10 days after the rash has healed. This ensures that the infection is completely treated.