What is Nappy Rash?

Nappy rash may seem like just one more worry to add to the laundry list of things parents need to think about. However, it doesn’t need to be, as nappy rash can be relatively straightforward to manage if you follow a good skincare routine.

Nappy rash is the most common dermatological condition seen in babies, and it usually peaks between the ages of 7 to 15 months. 

It is usually caused by excessive moisture from urine and faeces in the nappy region: this moisture build-up irritates the skin, leading to a rash forming the genital region that can sometimes extend to the stomach and buttocks.

How to prevent nappy rash

The best thing parents can do to help avoid nappy rash is to change their baby as often as required. As nappy rash is caused by a build-up of moisture, making sure your baby is changed and dry as soon as possible after wetting themselves is key. Nappy-free time can also help to dry out the nappy region and prevent excessive moisture build-up.

Another way to help avoid nappy rash is through the use of barrier products. These form a water-resistant barrier on the baby's skin to help shield it from the effects of moisture build up. It is also important to look for barrier products with a hydrating base to help prevent moisture loss from the skin. That last part is important; moisture build up on the skin can be irritating, but moisture loss from the skin can dry it out and be equally as irritating.

Parents should also be aware of common irritants such as soap, fragrance and colour found in everyday skincare products. Fragrance and colour are two of the most common irritants found in skincare products. Soap can be especially irritating, as it has a high pH of about 10 whereas the skin has a naturally lower pH or about 4. Putting a product with high pH on the skin can cause irritation and damage the skin's barrier function. For babies, and for parents too, it would be best to look for a pH-balanced soap-free cleanser.

Knowing how nappy rash develops, and also knowing the skincare regimen and products that can help you manage it, will mean you can scratch that one off of your worry list!

Key points:

  • Nappy rash is a common complaint in babies and is caused by excessive moisture from urine and faeces.
  • Frequent changing and a good skincare routine should help to manage it.
  • Avoid products with common irritants such as soap, fragrance and colour.

By Ian Harrison BSc (Hons), PhD.

Ian is Ego Pharmaceutical's Scientific Communications Manager. He is a medical scientist and communicator with a bachelor's degree and PhD in Pharmacology, and over a decade's worth of experience across research and industry.