Nappy rash is the common name given to a red rash that often affects the area covered by a baby or toddler's nappy. In areas of the world where nappies are called diapers the rash is known as diaper rash and your doctor may refer to it as a form of dermatitis or skin inflammation.
Wearing nappies causes a rash because the nappy allows urine and faeces to stay in contact with the baby's sensitive skin. This causes irritation so that the natural barrier function of the skin breaks down. Very often secondary infection with Candida – the fungus that causes thrush – follows.
Most babies will get nappy rash at some time or another but certain babies seem to have much more sensitive skins and are more prone to problems. Rashes in the nappy area may also be caused by other skin conditions such as eczema and, very rarely, may be a feature of more serious illnesses.
First line management of a nappy rash is to try and leave the area exposed to the air if possible. Proper cleansing with warm water or a modern baby wipe is important. Sometimes a specific cream or ointment containing medicine to get rid of Candida will be needed and this may be combined with a mild steroid to reduce inflammation.
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