It is quite normal for babies and toddlers to experience and develop skin rashes in particular nappy rashes or diaper rashes. Whilst they aren’t normally seen on new-borns there is pretty much a 100% guarantee that all babies will get nappy rash at some stage.
Up to a third of babies and toddlers in nappies have nappy rash at any one time. It doesn't usually develop in newborns, but all babies can get nappy rash.
Before starting on the subject of all things nappy related – nappy rash, nappy cream, etc. – perhaps it’s worth having a quick look at the word nappy itself so we don't confuse our readers from different parts of the globe.
Essentially it refers to the absorbent material or towelling, that we wrap between a baby’s legs and around their bottom to ‘capture’ and absorb their waste products.
The word nappy itself derives from napkin and is commonly used in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and many other British Commonwealth countries.
North America refer to this material more commonly as a diaper, a word believed to originally be derived from a combination of the Greek words ‘dia’ (meaning across) and ‘aspros’ (meaning white), as in the wrapping across of a white cloth, and then later the old French word ‘diapre’ referring to a variegated fabric weaving.
Anyway enough of that, on to the real subject matter.
Firstly, when it comes to nappy rash it is important to be able to tell the difference between what may be termed as a minor irritation and something beyond that which requires further medical attention.
That’s easy to say but, especially for new mothers with an understandably strong emotional bonding to their offspring, in reality it is not such an easy task to determine the root of your child’s discomfort.
So as a guide, and as a mother who has been through these ‘traumatic’ times, I have compiled the following article to help you by way of answering some of the foremost questions you will have about your newborn, about nappy rash, how to treat it fast and effectively and what are the best types of nappy rash cream to use.
Ok, you will have to forgive me for using a little bit of science here to explain exactly what goes on around your baby’s bottom area to cause a baby nappy/diaper rash.
Wet nappies certainly don’t help the case, and can cause rashes in themselves, but it is mainly the baby’s faeces (or poo) in a dirty nappy/diaper which contain residual digestive enzymes that then start to work on the sensitive skin and irritate it.
This can be further aggravated by ammonia, which is created when bacteria from the faeces mixes with any urine also inevitably present, to further irritate the baby’s skin.
Phew – science lesson over!
So in simple terms, in the main nappy rashes are caused by prolonged contact of urine and faeces with the sensitive skin in the baby's nappy area and, obviously, more often when a baby has diarrhoea or later on as they have a change of diet and progress to eat more solid foods. It's the combination of their 'wee' and 'poo' that does it
Babies that are bottle fed are slightly more inclined to suffer from nappy rash than those that are breast fed.
Breast milk, as a totally natural product made by the mother, is much more efficient in providing your baby with exactly the right nutrients they need for growth and sustenance and therefore there is minimal waste product created.
Whereas bottle milk comes from a somewhat less natural source so, whilst the manufacturers try hard to get the balance of nutrients right, inevitably due to the mass production aspect it cannot provide each and every baby with their marginally different dietary requirements, hence more waste which in turns means more enzymes in the nappy to irritate their skin.
You won’t remember of course but you and I were, in fact everyone the world over is, susceptible to nappy rashes before being toilet-trained. They are the most common skin concern for parents with young children!
However, the good news is that over the years as a race we have learnt how to reduce the severity and frequency of nappy rash.
For instance, we now know that nappy rash can be made worse by the wearing of over-pants made out of artificial non-breathable materials (plastic) as they prevent normal air circulation in the vital area and keep the enclosed nappy area moist.
We have also learnt that some washing detergents can contain harsh chemicals or additives which, if not thoroughly rinsed from washable nappies, can also increase the occurrence of nappy rash.
In a previous blog post I related how my husband suffered painful second degree burns from exactly these detergent chemicals, so imagine what effect they would have on a toddler’s skin!
2. What Are The Symptoms of Nappy Rash?
It may be stating the obvious, but in order to treat and effectively deal with nappy rash you have to be able to recognise the symptoms of it in the first place. So, aside from the prime obvious indicator - which you will clearly hear - as shown in the little mite's distressed face above, let's talk a few facts here.
Don’t forget, your baby’s skin is more delicate and prone to getting sore than yours as it is only half as thick as your skin – so, the first signs are that the skin on your child’s bottom will probably look red and sore.
Murphy’s Law dictates that at some time or other nappies will leak – so it stands to reason that anywhere the content can leak to so there a rash can occur.
In more severe cases it is possible for this rash to continue upwards from the groin and bottom area to your child’s stomach or even up towards their back. In even more severe cases of nappy rash, there might be evidence of swollen or raised areas of skin, and possibly even lesions (ulcers) - this is time for referral to your GP!
Inevitably, accompanying the visible signs, and as the rash will be causing them some discomfort and pain, your baby will be displaying other signs of irritability becoming fretful, fussy with longer periods of crying.
3. How To Prevent Nappy Rash or Reduce the Incidence of Nappy Rash?
The best way to deal with nappy rash is to try to prevent your baby getting it in the first place. The simple steps below will help prevent nappy rash as well as help you to clear it up.
Again possibly stating the obvious, but if at all possible try to pre-empt matters and prevent your little one getting nappy rash in the first place – but as previously mentioned, that’s easier said than done.
The number one thing to remember is that if your baby does get a nappy rash, and rest assured as sure as night follows day they will, you can take early remedial skin care treatment yourself.
Regularly check whether your little one’s nappy needs changing – every hour or so is not a bad timeline for checking. In the early days of your new born's life nappy changes 12 times a day are quite normal - this will ease off after a few weeks.
Always change any dirty or wet nappy as soon as it is discovered; during the change be sure to gently and thoroughly clean the whole nappy area using plain tepid water or even alcohol-free and unscented baby wipes if you must – but be aware that some wipes contain antiseptic additives that will probably aggravate any rash further.
Leave their nappy area to breathe in the fresh air for a short period before putting on the fresh one!
A once-a-day bath is plenty for your baby, two if you feel the need, but any more than twice a day could dry out their sensitive skin. Don’t use any soaps or lotions in their bath.
After bathing, dry them as gently as possible, preferably by patting with a towel over their skin rather than using a rubbing motion. Once again, allow their nappy area to breathe in the fresh air for a short period before putting on the new one.
Maybe, to allow air to circulate more freely, even try fastening the new nappy a little more loosely.
Do not use talcum powder as it contains ingredients that could irritate your baby's skin.
Feel free to apply a thin layer of a barrier cream to protect their skin at each nappy change if your baby has a minor rash and it isn't upsetting them too much.
At night-time, if you are using reusable nappies, you might consider putting extra padding inside to give it more absorbency.
If you normally use cloth nappies and your baby develops a bad case of nappy rash you may wish to consider using disposable nappies for a while until the rash has cleared up.
By following these hygiene tips, under normal circumstances, minor nappy rashes will usually clear up after about three days.
However,if the rash is of greater concern, by that I mean causing your baby real discomfort with possible additional symptoms such as an increased temperature, then I strongly recommend that you contact your GP in the first instance!
If no additional symptoms are detected, then perhaps contact a health visitor or pharmacist to recommend a nappy rash cream to treat it.
Don't forget that it's normal for babies to develop skin rashes, but it's important to know the difference between a minor irritation and a condition that requires attention.
4. Is It True That Babies Get More Nappy Rashes When They Are Teething?
In many cases, but not all, there can be an increase nappy rash occurrence during teething by your baby. Various studies have been carried out and differing explanations have offered as to why this might occur.
One theory, and this sounds the most logical and feasible to me, is that during teething the excess dribbling causes face rashes and the excess saliva is swallowed causes a loosening of the bowels and then sore bottoms, another that the change of diet at this stage causes these problems.
For a fuller explanation I’ll briefly go back to the science class, as the most likely cause is due to a mild hormonal imbalance during teething.
It is understood that excess endocrine is produced and released directly into the baby’s blood and/or lymphatic systems due to stress during this period.
This leads to more peptides being released into the gastro-intestinal system, which in turn leads to a fluid imbalance, creating looser stools (diarrhoea), poor fluid absorption all resulting in a your poor baby having a sore bottom.
The short answer is that, ‘yes’ an increase in the occurrence of nappy rash is likely to occur but ‘no’ it is not anything to greatly worry about. Just follow the steps mentioned above for dealing with any outbreaks.
5. Is Extra Protection Required For Your Baby's Skin?
Virtually everyone knows that a baby’s skin is delicate and overly sensitive. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to cover them up in every way conceivable. It just means that their skin reacts differently to fabrics, the elements, and many other external influences.
It is recommended not to bathe a new-born all over more than once or twice a week since they don’t really get all that dirty. However, when it comes to things like nappy changes, this is where skin irritation is an inevitable necessary evil which needs to be addressed almost hourly. Treating any irritation has now become easier since The Solid Bar Company released a balm specifically catering to the new-born skin.
If you take a look at our calendula nappy balm page, from the link in the picture below, you can see some real life testimonials from our satisfied customers who have found this nappy balm to provide the best protection for their baby's bottoms!
Everything you need to add that layer of remedial protection is contained in each and every use.
The Solid Bar Company deals in a selection of eco-friendly and biodegradable cosmetics, which come to form their natural lotions, balms and salves collection. You can also see that our nappy rash cream contains organic coconut oil - you can read more about the amazing beneficial properties that coconut oil has for skin care here.
This particular selection of sustainable personal products not only serve as among the best moisturisers for dry skin but can also be used to soothe sensitive skin like that of babies.
Insect bites, from the likes of noseeums, mosquitoes, midges and sand flies, all too common irritants particularly during the summer months, are also more than treatable with The Solid Bar Company’s fresh products.
6. What Is The Secret To Finding A Great Nappy Change Cream?
So, what’s the secret? In truth, it all comes down to the natural and organic ingredients these lotions, balms and salves contain. All have been carefully selected for their inbuilt healing and/or protective properties, which come to create some very effective skin nourishing cosmetics.
We will get up close and personal with a few of them to show you what makes these products totally unmissable and irresistible.
Calendula Essential Oil
Calendula essential oil is one of the key ingredients in The Solid Bar Company’s baby–oriented product. Hence its name – the Calendula Nappy Change Balm.
By taking full advantage of its anti-inflammatory and antiviral qualities, calendula oil can protect and prevent any baby or young child against common rashes and itchiness they may experience following the regular change.
Since babies’ and children’s skin is sensitive, acquiring bruises and scrapes will be far easier. Calendula oil in a balm or lotion works just as well to alleviate any pain, again thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties.
And, don't forget, once you have found the best nappy rash cream for your little one's skin it also has a host of other uses in your household as a sensitive skin care product - after all it's not just little one's who have sensitive skin, older children and adults do too!
7. What Are The Benefits Of Using Water-less Skin Care Products For Your Little One?
Now, don’t look at this section and start to think “Is water bad for my skin! I’ve been bathing in it all my life!”. Of course water is not bad for your skin at all; in fact, keeping your skin hydrated is of great importance.
However, when it comes to skin care products like lotions, balms and salves, having water among the ingredients often defeats the object. That is, most of it will actually evaporate from the skin surface before it gets absorbed. In the evaporation process, some of the natural oils on the skin are taken with it, ultimately making the skin drier than it was to begin with!
Also, in many personal care products - hair care products in particular - water is used as a bulking-out agent to both make the product easier to handle, pack and pour and also to make it cheaper to make and increase the profit margin by stealth.
The Solid Bar Company have taken note of this issue. As such, their lotions, balms and salves collection is entirely water free.
Reading our customer reviews of this nappy balm tells the real story about how effective it is in dealing with nappy rash better than we can too: "I bought this balm after reading reviews of other customers and it has exceeded my expectations. We haven't used anything else but this on our daughter's skin and three months in we haven't had any nappy rash."
8. What Are The Benefits Of Paraben Free Skin Care Products?
Of all their products, The Solid Bar Company aims to be totally eco-friendly and biodegradable. That also means totally avoiding the use of preservatives like parabens for their natural cosmetic products.
Parabens are a type of chemical compounds that are often found in pharmaceuticals and cosmetic products. However, their notoriety these days is not due to their effectiveness at their job, but for the potential risks, they pose to their users.
Reports and studies have recorded the possibilities that certain parabens can imitate oestrogenand other hormones, plus cause certain more serious conditions such as breast and testicular cancer.
There is also evidence that some additives to cosmetics such as parabens and phthalates are also HDCs. These hormone disrupting chemicals (HDCs) increase the risk of breast cancer in two ways. First, they can contribute to breast cancer formation. Second, they can promote the growth of breast cancer, which has been caused by some other mechanism.
The Solid Bar Company’s products are created fully cruelty-free - this means for their customers after purchase as well as for any testing of products or ingredients prior to and during manufacture. As such, they will never have anything to do with parabens for any of their products.
9. Summary of Key Points
Dealing with nappy rash and finding the best way to alleviate your little one's discomfort is not that difficult once you realise that it is something that all children and parents encounter. It is not anything to be afraid, or ashamed, of - unfortunately, it's a very natural step in the process of early childhood for all of us!
The key things to remember as a best practice mantra for your new born are:
Check - check their nappy regularly - every hour or so during the first few weeks is a good timeline to use.
Change - as soon as you discover a wet or dirt nappy, change it!
Breathe - allow your baby's nappy area to air 'breathe' briefly between changes.
Bathe - a once-a-day bath for your baby is a good regime, maybe two if you feel the need - but remember, no soaps or lotions on their delicate skin!
Dry - after bathing, dry your baby carefully and gently and, again, allow a little time of exposure to the air prior to putting on their new clean nappy.
Relax - you will be tired after 9 month's of pregnancy and giving birth - the first few weeks are probably the most demanding on your body and soul too due to the sleep deprivation, so whenever possible (I know, I can hear you saying, chance would be a fine thing!) give yourself, even a little, time to relax - it does get easier and less demanding as time goes on.
There are numerous books out there that relate to child care advice that can help through this difficult time, especially if you don't have parents or others with previous experience of child birth to lean on, but selecting one that suits you is entirely subjective.
It is full of really thoughtful and clever tips intended to make your life easier and more enjoyable during trying times especially when dealing with sleep cycles, over-tiredness and winding-down.
If you find the new version a little costly on Amazon, you can always dip into a previously-owned versions on Gumtree/EBay etc where a copy can often be bought for a 'song' or even try your local library.
Of course there is no such thing as 'one-size-fits-all' here and you have to experiment a bit yourself too to find out what works for you and for your little one!
We hope that has helped with any new baby nappy rash questions you might have had - best wishes to you and your new baby!
Don't forget to check out the latest chapter in Rebecca's Story which gives you the lowdown on the background of The Solid Bar Company CEO and founder.
Let us know whether this has helped you and any pointers you'd like to add in the feedback below,
The Solid Bar Company Team
(This blog information was updated in March 2022)
Please note our products have not been evaluated by the MHRA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.