When to see a doctor about nappy rash
If the nappy rash is bright red, lasts for more than 48 hours or is accompanied by a strong urine odour (which can indicate dehydration), it is recommended to see your doctor.
If the rash forms blisters (which contain clear fluid) or becomes ‘weepy’ (leaking of clear fluid which can dry out and form a thick crust), a fever develops, you notice a bright red ring around the anus, skin falling off in big flakes, or you notice any bleeding, it is best to see your doctor as soon as possible.
Most who care for young children or the elderly can recognise and identify nappy rash when they see it, and treat accordingly. Where the rash is more severe, a doctor will offer their expert opinion, as well as offer any necessary prescriptions and other baby item suggestions (such as other nappy alternatives – cloth or disposable). These kinds of rashes tend not to clear up without physician-prescribed ointments and lotions.
Nappy rash as a result of a yeast infection often occurs in infants or adults taking antibiotics.
Treating nappy rash and home care
Creams made of plant derivatives, such as aloe and calendula, can help alleviate inflammation and bacteria on the skin.
Other recommended topical creams which your doctor can help guide you in how to use include:
- Hydrocortisone creams (this topical corticosteroid relieves swelling)
- Antifungal or antibiotic creams (oral antibiotics may also be prescribed to clear the infection)
- Zinc oxide
- Other steroids
Nappy rash, although highly uncomfortable, is not life-threatening and so occasional bouts of infection can easily be treated at home. Key to treatment is the use of over-the-counter ointments and medications, as well as smart practices in the home environment.
Nappy rash usually clears up in a matter of days if you practice good hygiene and take precautionary measures to minimise the occurrence of infection.
Preventing nappy rash
Prevention is better than cure, and there are plenty ways to minimise or prevent the occurrence of nappy rash. It’s all about taking the best care of very sensitive skin.
Things you can keep in mind to help prevent, as well as treat nappy rash include:
- Applying a thin layer of barrier cream to help protect the skin. A pharmacist or medical professional can assist with recommending one for you and advise on how to use.
- Changing soiled nappies (wet or dirty) as soon as possible.
- Gently, but thoroughly cleaning the entire nappy area, wiping from front to back. Fragrance-free and alcohol-free wipes or clean water are best, and won’t dry out the skin.
- Bathing daily. It is best to avoid bathing a baby more than twice a day as their skin does tend to dry out easily.
- Drying the nappy area gently after washing, taking care to avoid rubbing vigorously.
- It is a good idea to lie a baby down on a clean towel once dried, leaving their nappy off for as long as possible, to allow fresh air to get to their skin.
- It is best to avoid using talcum powder as it does contain ingredients prone to irritating a baby’s sensitive skin. Some doctors recommend using corn starch instead.