Nappy Rash and Reusable Nappies
Nappy rash is the most common skin condition in babies, who spend a large proportion of their time in nappies. Nappy rash is inflammation (dermatitis) that typically occurs around the nappy area (bum, thighs and genitals). It affects the majority of babies at some time, regardless of whether they're using disposable or reusable nappies. It's important to know how nappy rash happens, recognise what nappy rash looks like and when to seek appropriate help.
What are the signs of nappy rash?
Nappy rash will look different in every baby. It will look redder on light-skinned babies, and it may be brown, purple or grey on dark-skinned babies. The main symptom of nappy rash is a sore, inflamed area of the skin. In severe cases, nappy rash can be swollen, peeling and even bleeding.
Nappy rash can occur anywhere on your baby's body, but it's most common on the buttocks, thighs, genitals and tummy. It can also affect their armpits and legs. These areas are all vulnerable to rash because they're warm and moist, making a perfect breeding ground for thrush and bacteria.
Babies may feel uncomfortable or irritable if they have nappy rash. This can be particularly true when they are sitting down in a car seat, highchair or being changed.
Who gets nappy rash?
Nappy rash can affect babies and toddlers of both sexes, with the most common occurrence being at 9-12 months. Newborns and infants are more susceptible to nappy rash due to their skin being the most delicate and a naturally higher PH than adult skin.
Babies with eczema or other skin conditions are more likely to develop nappy rash than other babies.
Breastfed babies and children tend to have a lower stool pH than formula-fed infants, which may help to prevent nappy rash. Breastfeeding has been linked with a decreased risk of nappy rash.
While nappy rash isn't usually serious, it's often a big worry for parents and accounts for about one in four visits to GPs.
What causes nappy rash?
The prolonged exposure of a baby's sensitive skin to stool or urine is the main cause of nappy rash. Antibiotics, diarrhea, or allergies that lead to increased frequency of bowel movements can increase the risk of irritating a baby's skin.
Antibiotics are useful for fighting against serious infections, but they can also kill off the good bacteria in your baby's gut and microbiome. This good bacteria usually helps fight off fungal infections like thrush, so without this protection in place, nappy rash can easily occur. If you are breastfeeding and taking antibiotics, this may affect the bacteria in your milk.
Your baby's stool frequency, pH and gut microbiome change as they start to eat solid foods and unfortunately, this can cause nappy rash occurrence to increase.
The citric acid found in foods such as tomatoes, oranges, strawberries, pineapples & grapes can cause nappy rash outbreaks or worsen an existing rash.
Lotions or baby wipes with fragrances and chemicals can irritate a baby's sensitive skin leading to a rash. Occasionally babies will be allergic to certain laundry detergents, too.
How to prevent nappy rash
Clearing up nappy rash is about treating the skin and preventing its re-occurrence.
The key is keeping the nappy area clean and dry. So it's important to change any nappy regularly, especially after a poo.
Disposable nappies have chemicals that can hold urine for longer, but it's essential to avoid the temptation to leave the nappy on longer as this will increase the chances of nappy rash.
How often you need to change your baby depends only on their age - You can find more info here.
Using nappies with stay-dry features, such as moisture-wicking fabric, will keep your baby nice and dry.
Avoiding foods that contain high amounts of citric acid can be worthwhile when treating nappy rash.
Swapping disposable baby wipes for Reusable Cloth Baby Wipes soaked in water can help prevent and treat nappy rash. Once clean, gently pat the area with a dry cloth wipe.
If you think the detergent you're using causes a rash, try another and if you're using cloth nappies, check your washing method is correct and that they're getting a good clean. You can see our laundry guide here.
Letting baby's bottom air out with some nappy free time can help prevent and treat nappy rash. Don't forget to put a mat down to avoid any accidents!
To protect your baby's skin, using creams or ointments can be helpful. We've found that the Weleda Nappy Cream is best and recommend using a Nappy Liner with cloth nappies to prevent clogging the fibres or staining the fabrics. These skincare products work best when left on the surface of a baby's skin, so don't rub them in.
Cloth or not?
Are reusable nappies better for nappy rash? There is no medical evidence to show whether disposables or cloth nappies are better at preventing nappy rash - it is trial and error for what works for your baby. Still, there are particular features you can look for to keep your baby happy and dry.
Use nappies with stay dry features
The key to preventing nappy rash is keeping your baby dry. Peachi Baby nappies feature two highly absorbent bamboo cotton inserts to soak up urine. You can also add a mini insert for extra boosting at night times.
Our nappies also feature a stay-dry fabric layer which wicks away moisture from your baby's delicate skin, keeping them dry and comfortable.
Check and change baby regularly
The most common cause of nappy rash in both disposable nappies and cloth nappies is not changing the nappy enough. It's essential to look for the cause of the rash to prevent future issues.
Specifically for cloth nappies, it is worth looking at your washing routine, including the detergent dosage, wash load size, and wash cycle length.
If you need any further support, you can contact us here. In the meantime, there's no harm in doing a thorough clean known as a 'strip wash' while we work through a solution for you.
This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the Peachi Baby Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 999."