Nappy rash - what is it and how can you treat it?

Nappy rash - what is it and how can you treat it?

As parents, we try to do our very best to prevent red baby bottoms, but sometimes that painful nappy rash just keeps coming back. No need to worry. Nappy rash can be unpleasant and painful for your baby, but the condition is common, and with a few tips and tricks getting rid of that sore and red baby bum is easier than you might think.

What is a nappy rash?

To be able to treat or entirely prevent nappy rash, it is essential to know what causes the condition. nappy rash is often seen as an irritation in the nappy area. It is caused by a combination of heat, friction, and contact with moisture (urine and feces). These four factors all contribute to irritating your baby’s delicate skin and the skin’s protective layer can become unbalanced, red, and broken.

nappy rash can vary in size, shape, and severity, and a lot of different factors play a role in how your baby will be affected by this type of rash, such as; your baby’s skin, the food they eat, the type of nappy you use, how often you change the nappy, and especially the skin care products you use.

What does a nappy rash look like?

When your baby’s skin becomes red it is a sign that something is wrong, but how does a nappy rash actually look like? A nappy rash is often seen in irritated, red, flat areas, or changes to your baby’s skin with a smooth and “shiny” surface. In more serious cases, the skin can start oozing or develop into a wound with blisters. Luckily, there are several things you can do to treat your baby’s nappy rash, such as keeping a close eye on your baby’s skin condition and using the right nappies, skin care products, and routines.

How does a nappy rash occur?

Nappy rash can develop really quickly, and especially if your baby’s skin has been in contact with urine and feces for too long. But it can also happen if the skin becomes too warm, the nappies you use are non-breathable or the material irritates the skin.

Nappy rash is more common in babies than toddlers, since a baby’s immune system is not yet fully developed and the skin is still young and fragile. Therefore, the younger your baby is, the greater the risk of nappy rash or skin irritations.

Know your baby’s skin

During the first weeks after your baby is born, you spend a lot of time getting to know this little stranger – and we advise you to also get to know your baby’s skin. No two babies are alike, and neither is their skin. Some babies have silky-soft skin from birth, some have sensitive skin, while others may experience dry skin or even eczema.

The condition of your baby’s skin has a lot to do with genetics, but the products you use for your baby are of great importance too. Babies’ skin reacts differently to nappies, heat, contact with urine/feces and even skin care products and how prone your baby’s skin is to nappy rash varies too.

If your baby’s skin is suddenly red or irritated in the nappy area it is most likely a nappy rash. Does your baby suffer from diarrhea? Or has it been too long between nappy changes (trust us - it happens to us all). Have you chosen the right size nappy, or is it too little to absorb all urine? Is the nappy not put on correctly, maybe it is too tight and irritates your baby’s skin? Or maybe it is not a nappy rash at all but a different type of skin condition such as eczema, a yeast infection, or a heat rash . If you are worried or in doubt about the kind of rash your baby has, or if the red area is blistering, or bleeding you should always consult your doctor.

How to treat nappy rash

If your baby is experiencing nappy rash, here is how you go about it:

Try identifying the cause of the rash. Maybe go for the exclusion method:

  1. Try changing the nappy more frequently. 
  2. Try a different size nappy.
  3. Try another nappy if the ones your use are not breathable. 
  4. Try to loosen the nappy to make sure it is not put on too tight.

Make sure you are really careful when washing and cleaning the red area. See more on the right skin care routine below.

Try leaving your little one without a nappy for just 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day to let the skin breathe. Nothing is more healing to a red baby bum than air.

Make sure you use gentle and safe skin care products developed for sensitive baby skin to create a barrier on the skin that will help the skin to heal .

Skin care routines for babies

Good skin care routines are important to ensuring healthy baby skin, but what is important to know and how you go about it?

Clean the skin

If your baby’s skin is red or damaged by nappy rash the skin needs the best possible conditions to heal. First clean the area in a very mild way. Use a soft cotton washcloth, or gentle baby wipes such as Bambo Nature Wet Wipes that can be used daily and are perfect for a mild cleansing. Pat the skin dry or let it air dry. Do not rub. This will leave the protective layer of the skin intact.

Moisturize and protect

When your baby’s bum is clean and dry, apply a protective barrier cream or nappy rash cream such as Bambo Nature Soothing Cream to protect the skin against urine and feces. Apply only a thin layer to ensure that the skin can breathe. Let the product dry for a bit before putting on a fresh nappy.
A protective barrier cream is essential to treating nappy rash, as it:

  • Repairs the protective layer of the baby's skin.
  • Provides moisture to the skin.
  • Reduces the evaporation of water through the skin, causing the skin to not dry out.
  • Leaves a protective layer on the skin so that the skin is better protected against urine and feces.

In addition to using the right skin care products and routines, it is also very important to change your baby’s nappy frequently. Wet or damp skin is more sensitive to friction and irritation. Therefore change the nappy as soon as it is very wet or immediately after your baby poops. Use a nappy with a wetness indicator – the line on the outside of the nappy. This will change colour when your baby pees and will show you when it is time to change the nappy. Change the nappy more often than you would normally if your baby is experiencing nappy rash.

Choose the right nappy and skin care

From the moment your baby is born, you put that cute little baby bum in a nappy, and in the years to come, your baby will be wearing nappies almost 24/7. All the more reason to pay extra attention to choosing a good one. A good baby nappy is made of soft and breathable materials that are safe for your baby’s skin. When choosing a breathable and skin-friendly nappy, you ensure a good temperature between your baby’s skin and the nappy so that the skin sweats as little as possible. It is also important that the nappy absorbs urine and moisture from feces quickly so that your baby’s skin stays dry even after multiple urinations. Dry skin in the nappy area is key to preventing nappy rash.

In addition to choosing a good nappy, it is also really important to find the right skin care products to help keep your baby’s skin healthy. When shopping for skin care products, choose natural, safe and gentle products without perfume and colour designed for sensitive baby skin. See more on how to choose safe and natural skin care in this blog post.

Can nappy rash be prevented?

If your baby has experienced a nappy rash, you know firsthand that it can be really painful for your little one, so of course, you want to do everything you can to prevent another rash from developing. Prevention is in fact key when talking about nappy, since preventing a rash is so much easier than dealing with an unhappy baby and a sore bum.

Even if your baby’s skin is less prone to nappy rash than other babies (lucky you!) it can still happen. Even when you think you have taken all precautions and done everything right. Maybe your baby is teething (for some that is almost a guarantee for a red bum) or your baby has been eating certain types of acidic foods like tomatoes or mandarins. The sooner you discover the rash, the sooner you can do something about it before it develops.

We cannot promise you that your baby will never experience nappy rash again, but maybe, these tips can help to prevent future rashes or at least keep them to a minimum.

Our top 7 tips to nappy rash

  1. Change the nappy if it is wet or dirty.
  2. Gently clean your baby’s skin. Use a soft washcloth or sensitive baby wipes. If you use soap, choose a mild, skin-friendly type with the right pH value and without perfume and colour.
  3. Gently pat the skin dry or let the baby bum air dry.
  4. Use soft, skin-friendly, and breathable baby nappies.
  5. Make sure you have chosen the right size nappy and that it is put on correctly – neither too tight nor too loose.
  6. Take off the nappy a few times a day and let your baby’s bum air dry. This is a natural and gentle way to dry your baby’s skin. To prevent accidents, place your baby on a soft towel or a disposable absorbent changing mat or bed mat.
  7. Always use common sense when it comes to the health of your baby. We cannot see your baby, so when in doubt – or if your baby’s skin is damaged, bleeding, or blistered - ALWAYS consult your doctor or health visitor.
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