Get to know nappy rash, and how to treat it

Emmy Samtani

Emmy Samtani

Emmy is the founder of Kiindred and mother to 3 little ones. Over the last 4 years, she has worked with some of the most credible experts in the parenting space and is a keen contributor on all things parenthood.
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 · 3 mins read
Get to know nappy rash, and how to treat it

What is nappy rash?

Nappy rash is an area of inflamed skin near where a nappy sits, and usually occurs in infants and younger children. Usually, this is caused by prolonged contact with urine and faeces. Whether reusable or disposable, nappies create a hot and moist environment that traps its contents against the skin and causes irritation. Most babies will experience nappy rash at some point, and it is usually treatable at home.


Infants and children with pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis are more prone to developing a nappy rash. It’s important to remember how precious your baby’s skin is, particularly their bottom. Some common chemicals that are found in fabric softeners, detergents, baby lotions, fragrances, soaps and baby wipes can be very irritating to the skin and should be avoided at all costs. If you’re not sure what could be harmful to your baby, check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Signs and symptoms

  • Inflamed skin around genital area, this will appear red and moist
  • The skin may blister and peel, leaving raw patches or ulcers
  • Spreading of the rash may appear onto the tummy and bottom
  • Small ulcers can sometimes form on healthy skin near the area of the rash
  • Damage to the skin can be very sore and unsettling for your baby, especially if urine meets the effected area
  • You may notice your baby is more irritable than usual when being cleaned or touched
  • Moist environments are the perfect breeding ground for bacterial or yeast infections on the skin – these types of infections are common in babies who have nappy rash

Nappy rash can sometimes lead to bacterial or fungal infection. If this is the case, you will notice blisters, pus, red bumps in the creases of the skin and severely swollen red areas.

If you notice a linear, red rash across your baby’s belly and in the skin creases, and have recently changed the nappy you are using, this may indicate a reaction to chemicals in the disposable nappies. If this happens regularly, or is causing your baby significant discomfort, be sure to contact a health care professional.

Usually just the symptoms and location are enough to indicate whether your baby has nappy rash or not. Other information such as medication use and chemical exposure can help your doctor to identify factors that may be making your little ones condition worse.

Prevention and treatment

  • More frequent nappy changes, using disposable nappies and covering the sore area with a barrier cream.
  • Tight fitting nappies that chafe against the skin can lead to nappy rash – skin to skin contact within skin folds in the diaper area can promote irritation. To test if your baby’s nappy fits properly, slip your finger between the diaper and your baby’s skin at the waist and legs to ensure that the fit feels snug, but never too tight.
  • It is not necessary to interrupt a baby’s sleep to change a wet nappy, however changing prior and following a nap is a good way to ensure they have as little time as possible in one that is soiled.
  • Clean your baby’s skin gently and try to keep it dry.
  • Avoid products that may irritate the skin or cause pain (such as alcohol wipes).
  • Rinse your baby’s bottom with warm water and a mild, unscented soap after each nappy change (when possible) – air and pat dry the area thoroughly
  • If you put your baby in reusable nappies, be sure to wash them carefully to remove any pesky germs.

A mild case of nappy rash should clear up after a few days of proper treatment. If the nappy rash does not get better in a couple of days, or if it spreads onto the tummy, be sure to contact a health care professional.

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