Nappy rash is common and can happen no matter how careful you are about looking after your baby’s bottom. Some babies may have very sensitive skin and rashes on other parts of their bodies. Some babies only get nappy rashes when they have a cold or some other viral illness. Others may have infections, such as thrush, which make the rash worse. Almost all children who wear nappies will get nappy rash at some stage.
Common causes of nappy rash include:
- Sensitive skin
- A trigger factor or ‘agent’.
Babies who have rashes on other parts of their bodies, such as cradle cap or eczema (on the face or under the chin), are more likely to get nappy rash. This tendency is often inherited.
Trigger factors or ‘agents’
Some things can trigger nappy rash, including:
- Ammonia – chemicals in urine may be changed into ammonia, which ‘burns’ the skin.
- Thrush (candida) – thrush exists in faeces (poo) normally but the levels rise sometimes without obvious causes. This can occur when a baby needs antibiotics for another infection. Thrush can make a nappy rash much redder and more painful.
- Chemical exposure – chemicals in nappy-soaking solutions, laundry detergents and fabric softeners can irritate the skin of very sensitive babies. Some baby wipes may cause irritation if they contain alcohol. Some scented soaps or baby lotions can also irritate the skin of some babies.
- Plastic pants – these may keep the baby’s clothes clean and dry, but they prevent airflow. Because the clothes do not get wet, a baby may be left in a wet or dirty nappy for a long time and this keeps the baby’s skin wet.
- Friction or rubbing – rough nappies can rub and chafe at the baby’s sensitive skin.
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