Diaper rash (also called nappy rash) is a major concern for new mothers. Even though many people try to prevent it, most children will have it at least once before they are three years old. Diaper rash or nappy rash are red rashes on the buttocks or skin area covered by diapers.
This condition can happen in children that are healthy, making them very sick. Adults using diapers may also have the same rash.
The main symptom of diaper rash is red, irritated skin around the buttocks and genital area of the child. You may also find the rash in skin folds.
Other symptoms include:
- Excessive crying.
- White or yellow discharge.
- Sores or blisters.
The following are some of the causes of nappy rash:
- Soiled diapers.
- Irritation by soaps or detergent.
- Allergies to food, wipes, diapers or powder.
- Sensitive skin.
- Candida infection and other skin infections.
Your baby is at an increased risk of having diaper rash if you:
- Don’t change the diaper frequently.
- Your child has had a previous allergic reaction.
- Recently changed products like diaper brand or powder.
- Delay changing the diaper after the child has peed or pooped.
You do not need to see a healthcare provider for a simple nappy rash, but if you notice the following, visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible:
- The rash is still there after a week or has spread to other parts of the body.
- There’s yellow discharge or dried yellow crusts on the skin.
- There’s a wound or bruise in the rash area.
- You child is running fever, is not feeding properly or is feeling ill.
The following are ways to prevent your baby from getting a diaper rash:
- Keep your baby’s buttock area dry and clean.
- Change diapers frequently (every 2-4hours). Always change them immediately after they get soiled with pooh or pee.
- While changing nappies, you can rub on creams like petroleum jelly or zinc oxide to moisturise the skin. This will also prevent cracking of dry skin.
- Expose the baby’s buttocks to air for a few hours every day especially while you are at home.
- Use only mild soaps when bathing your child and and mild detergents for washing reusable diapers.
- Be careful about the products you use on your child’s skin. You should note the products that they react badly to and avoid them.
- Do not give your child antibiotics at home or any drugs that has not been prescribed by your healthcare provider. Speak to your healthcare provider first because some medicines can put your baby at risk of rash-causing infections.
You can manage most cases of diaper rash at home. The following are things you can do to manage diaper rash:
- Change diapers more often than usual.
- Use mild soaps or baby-friendly soaps to bathe your baby.
- Pat dry or air dry the buttocks before putting on diapers. Do not rub the skin or scrub it, as that will irritate the area.
- Zinc oxide and other anti-rash creams or ointments can help reduce the irritation.
Treatment of diaper rash is mostly at home. However, some cases may require a visit to a healthcare provider. Depending on the cause, your doctor may recommend:
- Zinc oxide to reduce irritation.
- Antifungals for candida infection.
- Antibiotic ointments or drugs for bacterial infection.
- Steroids for allergic rashes.
Diaper rash is a common complaint and, for most babies, harmless. With proper hygiene, regularly diaper changes and dry buttocks, you can keep your child free of nappy rash.