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Every child will at some stage get a nappy rash during their first few years of life; it just comes with the territory. Nappy rash is caused when your child’s urine and the bacteria from her stool mix ammonia is formed which irritates the skin and causes the rash. A tight nappy that rubs and stops air from circulating can also increase the risk of nappy rash. Nappy rash is most common in babies who are between 6 and 12 months but there are lots of other factors which can contribute to your baby developing nappy rash, including:
- Premature birth
- Illness or after a vaccination
- Sensitive skin or a family history of eczema
- An upset stomach, diarrhoea.
- A change in diet, such as weaning or switching from breast to bottle
Many people think that the only cause of a rash is from a child being left too long in a soiled or wet nappy. While this can certainly cause a rash there are many other factors which can contribute to nappy rash. For instance, a child with sensitive skin can develop a rash from wetness even with the most diligent nappy changer. When your child’s urine and the bacteria from her stool mix they form ammonia which irritates the skin and causes the rash.Some children are sensitive to chemicals and may get a rash from the fragrance or other substances in disposable nappies or if you use cloth, the sensitivity could come from the laundry detergent used to wash the nappy. If you feel this is the cause of your child’s nappy rash, you should try switching to another brand of nappy or detergent.
New foods are notorious for causing nappy rashes in children. It’s always best to introduce foods one at a time so you can watch for reactions. Also, switching from breast to bottle milk can also trigger a nappy rash so be extra vigilant around this time.
Infection can cause a nappy rash. Since the area is moist and warm, bacteria thrive in the nappy. A rash that will not go away could be caused by a bacterial or yeast infection. Children who are taking antibiotics are at an increased risk of developing a yeast infection. This is because the antibiotics will kill both good and bad bacteria. If you suspect a bacterial or yeast infection is causing the nappy rash you should consult with your baby’s paediatrician.Diarrhoea can also cause a nappy rash and will usually upset the skin if not cleaned off right away. If your child is suffering from diarrhoea ensure frequent nappy changes and always use a barrier ointment after each nappy change.
The best way to treat a nappy rash is to try to keep your child dry and clean. Wash your child’s skin at each changing and pat the skin dry. Do not rub the skin. Use an ointment made for nappy rash at each changing. Let your child wear the nappy lose or better yet, allow your child to wear nothing to allow the air to aid the skin drying out. ‘Nappy free’ time will provide relief and will aid recovery.
If you think that the rash has had adequate time to subside but does not look any better, call your doctor. Your child may need medication to kill an infection.