Nappy rash

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Nappy rash is an extremely common problem, in fact it’s almost ubiquitous.

Hi, I’m Doctor Joe.

Now nappy rash, and in the United States they probably refer to it as diaper rash because as happens in different countries we have different terms for things, is a rash that occurs around the groin, underneath obviously the nappy or the diaper. It occurs in babies due to irritation on the skin, usually because of uric acid that comes in their urine. It can also be coming from irritation from bowel motions, particularly if the bowels are a fraction to the acidic side.

Now, first and foremost, it’s not contagious or infectious, it’s not something that babies catch and they can’t pass it on. It is very common but it’s also very easy to treat and in the main instance quite easy to avoid. The fact that children may get nappy rash is not a failure if you like on anybody’s part, it is quite common, but it is to a large extent preventable to a reasonable extent, most of the time. But you know please don’t think you’ve failed as a parent if your baby gets the odd nappy rash periodically.

Alright, so the skin does directly become irritated by the fact that uric acid or other acidic products from the bowels or the urine directly irritate the skin. It’s not fair to call it a burn, that would be going way, way, way too far but it is noxious to the skin. So the skin will typically be red, either a deep pink through to a brighter red.

Treatment really is about protecting the skin and there are a number of pastes that one can get. All of these are available over the chemist. They generally have a zinc oxide component. So they’re like, they’re similar to but not the same as the sort of zinc pastes you sometimes see sports players, sports people, wear as sun protection. So again it’s not the sun protection form but it’s a nice, thick, zinc-based cream that protects the skin and allows the skin to heal.

Regular nappy changes are the key, so when your baby has had a bowel motion or passed urine if you can be changing the nappy fairly soon after then you minimise the amount of time that the skin is exposed to something that might be noxious. Then again, after each nappy change, putting on a new nappy paste in a protective sense.

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There’s a lot of questions about nappy rash, is it related to particular foods or diet. Look the answer to that is no. Is it related to the time of year? The answer to that is also no. Although any rash regardless of cause may be a little bit worse in the hotter rather than the colder weather for the very simple reason is that heat does seem to aggravate a rash. That’s not to make it a heat rash and it is not, and I underline not to say that it’s caused by heat. But yeah, it might be a bit more prominent for some people, you know, in the summer time.

It’s not related to allergies. There is no, I suppose there is a known cause but there is no specific cause underneath that. So parents sort of say, “Well, am I doing the wrong thing?” and the answer to that is going to be no from the perspective of any dietary issues. But regular, and being vigilant with nappy changes and use of your nappy paste is the key.

Now babies with nappy rash may be teething because teething is something that happens normally in baby years but the two are not related, even though, and I stress even though, they may occur at the same time.

Now it does happen occasionally that nappy rash can get infected and most typically it can be with a fungus, a thrush fungus, which can cause sports to spread out a little bit further. So if you’re using your nappy paste and it’s not coming good after you know, five or six days or so, then it’s worth seeing your GP because it is possible that it may be some thrush or other infection. In that instance it can be fairly straight forward to treat but you might need some more specific advice.

The other question people ask is, is it better to have cloth nappies or disposable nappies? The answer to that is that it doesn’t matter. It’s not going to influence this one way or the other. Now immediately people are going to say, “I’ve heard one is better and the other is better,” and you will have and it’s going to be different people finding what works best for them. So of itself there is no particular benefit of either one specifically in terms of nappy rash, so use whatever you feel most comfortable with.

Alright, so nappy rash. Not serious. Mainstay is prevention and that’s regular nappy changes and use of a protective nappy paste. Treatment again, fairly similar and will be very effective in the vast majority of instances. If things aren’t settling down fairly promptly then certainly go along and get an opinion and some advice from your GP.

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Date Created: February 13, 2015 Date Modified: November 14, 2018