Nappy rash is the most common skin problem for young infants. Babies are prone to nappy rash because their skin is thinner and more fragile than ours, making it vulnerable to irritation and damage.
Almost every baby will get some sort of nappy rash during his or her early years. Some babies are more susceptible to the problem than others because they have more sensitive skin.
Babies with a family history of allergies and those with eczema or dermatitis are often more prone to nappy rash.
Breastfed babies tend to get less nappy rash than bottle fed babies because their faeces aren’t as irritating to the skin.
Babies can get nappy rash with either cloth or disposable nappies.
Nappy rash is most common when babies are around 6 to 12 months old. This is when their nappies tend to be changed less and they’re beginning to eat a more diverse diet.
It’s also the time babies are becoming more active, causing more movement and rubbing of the nappy. Some babies can even suffer nappy rash when teething.
What is nappy rash?
Nappy rash is a form of dermatitis. In light cases, the skin affected is usually pink and raised, covering just a small area.
In more serious cases, nappy rash can affect the entire nappy region (waist, hips, bottom and thighs) with red, angry and broken skin. When severe, nappy rash can cause stinging, burning pain, itching, irritability, restlessness and sleep disturbances.
What causes nappy rash?
The main cause of nappy rash is the constant wetness of the nappy area, along with caustic and irritating acids and ammonia in the urine and faeces. These chemicals irritate a baby’s delicate skin. Under such conditions of heat, wetness and irritation, it’s no wonder infections can develop.
Here’s a list of things that can lead to nappy rash:
- Moisture and wetness in the nappy area.
- Sensitive skin - babies with a family history of allergies and those suffering from infantile eczema or dermatitis are usually more prone to nappy rash.
- Prolonged contact with urine or faeces. Too much exposure to urine or faeces can irritate a baby’s sensitive skin when the nappy is left on too long. Nappy rash is more common in babies who have frequent bowel motions, especially when faeces stay in the nappy overnight.
- Loose or abrasive motions. This can happen with teething, diarrhoea, taking medication (like antibiotics), or a food reaction.
- Chemical irritation from things like soap, talcum powder, change lotions, creams, baby wipes, detergent, bleach, fabric softeners or perfume in disposable nappies.
- Chafing or rubbing caused by nappies being too small or too tight.