spotting, treating and preventing nappy rash

Most parents have the experience of unwrapping their baby's nappy one day, and finding a patchy red little bottom. Nappy rash is not much fun for your poor uncomfortable little one – but thankfully it’s simple to treat, and easy to prevent.

group of babies just wearing nappies

recognising nappy rash

If your baby has nappy rash, they’ll have a sore-looking red bottom. The red rash might cover the whole nappy area (bottom, genitals, upper thighs) or be in patches. There could be spots, pimples, or blisters, and your baby’s skin may feel hot when gently touched. Mild nappy rash won’t bother your baby much – but if it’s more severe, your little one will be feeling very uncomfortable (and telling you all about it!). If the rash persists after treatment, or you notice white or red pimples in their folds of skin, see the doctor, as your baby may have developed an infection or thrush.

what causes nappy rash?

The main cause of nappy rash is your baby’s skin being moist under their nappy. If their delicate little bottom is in contact with a wet or dirty nappy for a long time, or your baby has diarrhoea, the skin finds it harder to act as a barrier and becomes irritated.

It could also be that your baby has developed a reaction to a certain soap or bubble bath, or any alcohol-based baby wipes. If your baby has recently been taking antibiotics, that can also be a cause of nappy rash.

ways to treat nappy rash

soothing and treating nappy rash

Happily, nappy rash usually clears up after about three days with simple treatments and good hygiene. A mild rash will get better really quickly if you change your baby’s nappies as soon as they become wet or dirty, and applying a thin layer of barrier cream (ask your health visitor to recommend one).

If the rash is making your baby really uncomfortable, see your GP as they may need to be prescribed a nappy rash cream. Make sure they have plenty of nappy-free time, as this will make them feel so much better.

preventing nappy rash

The key to preventing nappy rash is to keep the nappy area as dry as possible. Change your baby as soon as you can after a wee or poo, making sure you clean and dry them thoroughly before putting on the fresh nappy. You can apply a thin layer of barrier cream, but don’t use talcum powder as this can irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.

Daily baths in plain water, followed by gentle but thorough drying, will keep your baby clean and comfy. And don’t rush to stick that nappy back on – give your baby’s bottom a good airing!

About a third of babies and toddlers have nappy rash at some point, and it doesn’t make a difference whether you're using disposable or re-usable nappies. With regular nappy changes, good bottom hygiene, and plenty of time spent kicking their legs without a nappy on, your baby will soon be looking a little less red in the cheeks.