There are many causes of nappy rash, the most common being:
- prolonged contact with urine or faeces – when urine comes into contact with faeces, it results in the formation of ammonia (yes, the same thing that is used in some cleaning products) and this irritates the baby's sensitive skin;
- reaction to the chemicals (including perfumes) in the laundry detergent, nappy soak or baby wipes – all babies have very sensitive skins which are in contact with the nappies and wiped with the baby wipes;
- teething or weaning can cause changes in the composition of the urine making it more acidic – when a baby is teething its saliva tends to be more alkaline and so the stomach produces more acid to compensate; when the baby is weaning some foods may produce a more acidic urine;
- perhaps ironically, nappy rash can also result from keeping your baby's bottom too clean – while good hygiene is essential, whenever your baby's skin is wiped clean the natural skin oils and beneficial bacteria are wiped away;
- in some cases where the rash is particularly persistent, it may be thrush which is a fungal infection.
So what can be done? The following should not be taken as a complete list or the only things that can be done. As the parent, you know what is best for your child so the following is offered as a guide.
- Even though modern disposable nappies are very absorbent, they should not be left on when they have been soiled whether with poo or wee.
- If you are using cloth nappies, you can try putting a liner on the inside of the nappy to help draw the moisture away from the skin. Disposable liners can be bought in supermarkets or a cheap reusable alternative is to buy a length of fleecy material and cut it into rectangles to fit between your baby's bottom and the nappy.
- Increase the amount of nappy-free time. Fresh air helps keep the skin dry. You might choose to make nappy free time for a while after each nappy change.
- Try a different laundry detergent or nappy soak. Use those without perfumes. Try different baby wipes – in particular, do not use adult hand-wipes on your baby as these frequently have alcohol which is not good for sensitive skins.
- Use different (unscented) bath products or even just water. Little babies do not need a lot of cleaning;
- If you are using cloth nappies with waterproof overpants, ensure that the overpants are breathable as these allow the air to circulate.
- Use a nappy cream on the baby's skin to provide a barrier to help keep urine away from the skin.
Every baby is different – some seem to get nappy rash very easily and others do not – so there is no single solution that will work all the time for all babies. Having said that, one of the best products I have found for clearing up nappy rash is Simmon's Paw Paw Salve. It is all natural and contains no petrochemicals which is important to me. Putting a little on the affected area has it cleared up in no time. And it is soothing on the baby's skin. Paw Paw has so many health benefits it's not surprising that it can be used for this. Of course, this should not be taken as medical advice and if symptoms persist you should consult your health care professional.