While we celebrate the warming weather and the approach of summer by digging out the sunhats and sandals and planting tomatoes, remember to keep a close eye on your baby for nappy rash which thrives in the increasing heat and humidity. We’ll share some practical preventive measures and simple home care tricks to keep your baby happy and healthy and free of nappy rash this summer.
What is Nappy Rash?
During a nappy change, you may notice the sensitive skin on your baby’s nappy area looks red and inflamed, a bit raw and even spotty at the edges: this is nappy rash. Poor bub can experience it as painful and itchy – exactly how it looks – which can make them understandably a bit miserable. You’re most likely to find nappy rash on babies between 3 and 15 months of age.
Causes and Preventions
1. Wetness and irritation
Having the wetness of a soiled nappy rubbing against baby’s sensitive skin is the most common cause of nappy rash. Urine and faeces contain substances that can penetrate the broken skin and flare up into inflammation when left in contact too long. It seems like common sense then that making sure baby is changed frequently and kept as dry as possible is the best prevention, and you can try loosening the nappy or going one nappy size up for more air flow. Nappy-free time whenever possible is fantastic too – just make sure you lay baby on a waterproof mat for those inevitable accidents. If you’re off on a long car journey for your summer holiday, make pit stops for breaks from the car seat and a change of nappy.
2. Teething and new foods
Teething, starting solids and introducing new foods to your baby’s diet can change the pH of their poop – flaring up into nappy rash on its way out. New foods can change the composition and frequency of the stools, and the acids in some foods can be troublesome for some babies (think tomatoes and other fruits). You can try eliminating a food temporarily to see if that helps or seek the help of a professional.
3. Harmful chemicals
As always with babies – simple is best! Avoid soaps and baby wipes containing fragrance or any ingredients you don’t recognise – as these can all be irritants. A simple cloth with warm water is really the best baby wipe there is. When washing cloth nappies, make sure there is no detergent residue left in the fabrics – an extra rinse may be necessary. Avoid fabric softeners.
4. Yeast infection
Wet skin can be colonised by micro-organisms, and about 15% to 50% of the nappy rashes are due to yeast like Candida albicans, which thrives in a warm, moist environment. It can be treated with the right antifungal cream so see your doctor if you think your baby is suffering from this. Avoid using corn starch or talcum powder on the skin, as it can worsen the skin irritation and is harmful to baby’s lungs if inhaled.
Antibiotics can cause diarrhoea, which may contribute to nappy rash through the increased watery stools. Antibiotics kill bacteria – the good ones too. A baby or breastfeeding mum taking antibiotics will commonly get a yeast infection as a result, because the healthy bacteria that keep the yeast in check are eliminated. Ask your paediatrician if your baby could try probiotics which can replace the “good bacteria” in your baby’s gut, helping get their tummy and skin back to normal.
Taking Care of Nappy Rash at Home
It’s all about keeping baby dry and clean! Change nappies frequently and ditch the fancy wet wipes - keep it simple with warm water and a cloth to clean baby’s bottom, then pat dry rather than rubbing which can increase irritation. Try to give bub as much nappy-free time as you can, so their skin can be exposed to the air and given a chance to heal.
Applying a barrier cream/ointment to form a water-resistant layer can be helpful. Avoid using any strong steroid creams, due to the potential side effects of striae, tachyphylaxis and skin thinning.
For a soothing, chemical-free option, consider our BioGro-certified 100% organic and non-GMO Baby Balm, carefully blended with castor oil and calendula oil (naturally antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial) to protect baby’s bottom in the most natural way.
If the rash doesn’t heal after a few days of treatment or starts to worsen, it’s time to visit the doctor.
Sources and more information
Kids Health website: https://www.kidshealth.org.nz/nappy-rash
DermNet NZ website: https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/napkin-dermatitis/