Leaving a nappy on your baby for long periods of time is a common cause of nappy rash but not the only cause. Some babies get nappy rash no matter how well they are cared for, while others do not get nappy rash at all. Your baby may get nappy rash when he has a cold, when he is teething or when he is suffering from an illnesses or food intolerance. Signs of nappy rash include:
- Inflamed skin: the skin around the genital area and anus looks red and moist
- Blistering: the skin may blister and peel, leaving raw patches that can develop into ulcers
- Spreading: the rash can spread onto the tummy and further onto the buttocks
- Ulcers: small ulcers can sometimes form on healthy skin near the area of the rash.
A secondary bacterial or fungal infection is commonly the cause of nappy rash that spreads or fails to heal by airing, bathing and applying barrier creams or ointments. The damaged skin is often uncomfortable, itchy or sore. When your baby has nappy rash he may have unsettled sleep due to pain and irritation.
Some causes of nappy rash include:
- Chemicals in urine become ammonia and burn the skin when in direct contact for too long
- Thrush (Candida) – grows in a warm, moist environment. This type of nappy rash spreads in red patches and does not go away with barrier creams
- Chemicals in nappy soaking solutions, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, cleansing wipes, scented soaps and lotions and certain brands of disposable nappies can irritate baby’s skin
- Anti-fungal medicated creams applied too thick can burn
- Plastic pants keep your baby’s clothes clean and dry, but most prevent airflow. Clothes do not get wet and your baby is often left in a wet or dirty nappy for long periods. The skin remains wet and urine changes into ammonia that burns. The area becomes warm leaving it susceptible to thrush
- Rough nappies, sand or dirt can rub and chafe baby’s sensitive skin
- Bowel movements are more acidic when your baby is teething – burning delicate skin
- Certain foods eaten or ingested through breast milk can burn such as hot curry
- When your baby has frequent diarrhoea
- If your baby has little nappy-free time and lots of soiled nappies
- If your baby has started solids and is not tolerating certain foods – commonly dairy or wheat.
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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.