What causes nappy rash?

Wetness

This is the main cause of nappy rash. The longer the nappy is wet or dirty the higher the risk of developing nappy rash.

Thrush

An infection which thrives in warm moist areas. It is almost always present in significant nappy rashes and can occur on top of other rashes.

Chemical irritation

  • Urine and faeces contain irritating substances which lead to a rash if they are in contact with the skin for too long. This can often happen when your child begins to eat solids and is a good indication of food sensitivity.
  • Detergents and soaking solutions can irritate if they remain in the nappy. Double rinsing in a washing machine almost always removes them.
  • Baby wipes which contain alcohol or perfume often irritate and remove the natural oil from the skin.
  • Scented soaps can irritate a bay’s skin enough to give nappy rash.

Excessive sweating

  • Excessive sweating is often a problem when plastic pants are used. You may see a red spotty rash which worsens during the day.
  • Very thick ointments can lead to this problem too.


Difficult to treat nappy rash

When a nappy rash is difficult to treat, it often indicates that there is an underlying skin condition such as seborrhoeaic dermatitis, thrush or psoriasis. This needs to be diagnosed and treated appropriately. Contact your health professional for advice.

Prevention

  • Change nappies as soon as possible after they become wet or soiled.
  • There is no need to wash your baby’s bottom at every nappy change. If you are changing a wet nappy, it is not necessary to wipe as this will only remove the natural protective oils on your baby’s skin
  • Clean your baby with a little Vitamin E cream diluted with water after a bowel motion
  • Avoid baby wipes which contain spirit or perfume. You can make your own baby wipes for when you are out and about. See my instructions for home made baby wipes here
  • Avoid using plastic pants, there are alternatives if using cloth nappies
  • Use soft cotton nappy liners inside cloth nappies – avoid disposable nappy liners
  • Rinse all cloth nappies thoroughly and ensure that the nappies at least are double rinsed in the washing machine. You can add a ¼ of a cup of vinegar to the final rinse to be sure all detergents are neutralised
  • If nappy rash is a constant problem apply a protective cream to your baby’s skin eg. Calendula and chickweed cream or Lucas Paw Paw cream both are effective as barriers as well as antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.
  • If using disposable nappies choose a good quality brand which draws the wetness away from the skin, especially for night time. There are some really good compostable brands now that have less of the chemicals traditionally found in disposable nappies. Modern cloth nappies are easy to use and can be very good for babies prone to nappy rash since there are NO chemicals in them.

Aromatherapy

  • See Using aromatherapy with Infants for general guidelines and safe usage instructions.
  • Use 2 drops of tea tree oil in 1L of warm water to wash baby’s nappy area. Tea tree oil is highly antifungal. Don’t forget to dissolve the oil in a bit of milk before adding to the water.
  • Chamomile, lavender and tea tree may be mixed in with your chosen barrier cream to provide anti fungal, anti-inflammatory and soothing actions.
  • Here is my favourite nappy rash treatment cream.

Homoeopathy

See Using homoeopathy for Infants for general guidelines and safety considerations.

Sulphur

  • Dry red and scaly rash between buttocks, on genitals and may extend up the back
  • The child may sweaty on the feet
  • The child will be active and may be know as a ‘wakeful baby’

Rhus tox

  • You may notice little blisters
  • The affected skin will extremely itchy and irritated form on itchy irritated skin

Merc sol

  • Indicated if baby produces more saliva than usual and the nappy area is very moist and sweaty
  • This is particularly appropriate for nappy rash that develops during teething

Calc carb

  • Consider this when the nappy rash is chronic and nothing seems to be working
  • Calc carb is often needed for baby’s who have a sweaty head