Written by Sarah Mansell Published on 2nd January 2022

If your little one is experiencing diaper or nappy rash then the phrase ‘smooth as a baby’s bottom’ might not exactly ring true. But even though the dreaded diaper rash can be an absolute pain in the ass (literally), it’s incredibly common, and usually, nothing to worry about. Most babies spend roughly 2-3 years in nappies so it’s likely they’re going to suffer at some point. So to help you out, we’ve got the diaper rash lowdown – from prevention tips to treatments, we’re answering all your FAQs. 

What is diaper rash?

According to the British Journal of Midwifery, diaper rash also known as nappy rash affects up to 25% of nappy-wearing infants. So if your little one is suffering, you can rest assured that you’re definitely not alone. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but diaper rash is a rash that occurs anywhere around your baby’s nappy and on the skin that’s in contact with it. So that’s usually the lower abdomen and back, buttocks, genitalia, and inner thighs. If you think your baby might have diaper rash, look out for the common signs – red blotches or patches on your baby’s bottom, pimples, spots, or blisters, and hot, sore-looking skin. 

 What causes diaper rash?

The main cause of diaper rash is when your baby’s skin is in contact with wet or dirty diapers for too long or the diaper area is not properly cleaned. So those things are easily rectifiable. It can also occur when a nappy is too tight, because like an adult wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitting clothing, it can cause chaffing and rubbing on the baby’s skin. Because your little one’s skin is so sensitive, you should also use specific baby cleaning products. Using anything harsher can cause diaper rash. As well as all these common causes, diaper rash could be a sign of a yeast infection. According to Healthline, ‘the fungus Candida albicans is a common culprit for causing diaper rash’. 

How to prevent diaper rash

Like we said, most little ones will get diaper rash at some point in their first three years, but if you follow these prevention tips, the symptoms should be mild. 

  • Keep your baby’s bum as clean and dry as possible.

  • Change diapers as soon as they’ve done a wee or a poop. 

  • Give your baby’s bum a break and let them go without a nappy for short periods to increase airflow and to let the skin completely dry out.

  • Go one size up for diapers so they won’t be tight. 

  • Establish a daily bathtime, use gentle soap, and pat the skin dry rather than rubbing it. 

  • Use a barrier cream. 

  • According to the US Pharmacist, Talc (45%-100%) was once thought to be safe and effective as an absorbent in preventing and treating diaper rash, but it can be dangerous in the form of talcum powder if not used appropriately and should never be recommended.

What are the symptoms of an infected diaper rash?

Diaper rash shouldn’t normally irritate your little one, but if the rash becomes infected, then it will. Contact a health professional straight away if your baby has any of the following:

  • Bleeding, oozing or itching skin.

  • Fever along with the diaper rash.

  • Seems to be in pain with each urination or bowel movement.

How to treat diaper rash?

  • Use a cream or ointment with zinc oxide or petrolatum which will soothe the skin – simply smooth it onto your baby's clean, dry bottom before putting on a clean diaper.

  • Use antifungal cream, if your baby has a fungal infection, but make sure to consult your GP first. 

  • Contact your GP if your baby’s diaper rash isn’t improving after a few days of home treatments and then they can examine the rash and suggest further treatment. It will usually be topical medications like cream or antibiotics.  

Don’t get bummed out by diaper rash

Like we’ve said, diaper rash is very common and it definitely doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job as a mom. It’s just one of those annoying facts of new parenthood. Follow the prevention tips, and never hesitate to contact your GP or midwife if something doesn’t seem right.