Nappy rash - what to do

There are several causes of nappy rash, careful home treatment will help clear up the condition.

  • Change nappies frequently.
  • Rinse and dry the skin in the nappy area every time the nappy is changed, using a facecloth with water and allowing air to dry the area, if possible.
  • Wash the skin with a mild soap once a day.
  • Protect the skin with an ointment of zinc oxide or petroleum jelly, especially if the baby has diarrhoea. Apply the ointment only to dry, unbroken skin. Do not use zinc on raw or oozing skin. Zinc oxide should be left to dry on the skin before a new nappy is put on the baby.
  • Do not use baby powder or cornstarch. It may build up in the skin folds and hold moisture, providing an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
  • Avoid baby wipes, because they may contain alcohol, which could burn the skin. Wipes could also spread an infection.
  • Let the baby go without a nappy for as long as possible.
  • A warm bath for 10 minutes, three times a day, may relieve a very raw bottom. Twenty millilitres of baking soda can be added to the water. However, do not bathe the baby before the umbilical cord has fallen off.
  • Change your brand of disposable nappies, soap and detergent.
  • Fold the plastic of disposable nappies away from the baby’s body and do not fasten the nappy too tightly.
  • Switch to disposable nappies if you suspect that cloth nappies are the cause. Disposable nappies may be more absorbent.
  • Rinse cloth nappies twice, using 10 ml of vinegar to a litre of water for the final rinse.
  • Avoid using bulky or multi-layered nappies.
  • Use waterproof pants only when really necessary while the baby has a rash.
  • Give the baby more fluids (water or cranberry juice) to drink than you usually do, to dilute the urine.
  • To prevent food allergies that might cause diarrhoea, do not add new foods to the baby’s diet until the rash has gone.

If the baby has developed a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic. An anti-fungal cream and an oral anti-fungal liquid will be prescribed for thrush. In certain cases the doctor may prescribe a low-concentration hydrocortisone cream for seborrhoeic or atopic dermatitis. This should be used with care because it may have side effects.

(Liesel Powell, Health24)

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