At some stage or another your baby is likely to suffer from a nappy rash – a burning, painful and inflamed skin condition of the bum, thighs and genital areas.
Baby will be more than unhappy and highly irritable with such a nasty disorder so jump in early and, as the old saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.
But what exactly is a nappy rash, medically speaking? Its correct name is Irritant Diaper Dermatitis and it occurs when baby’s skin is exposed to extended periods of wetness, decreased skin pH caused by urine and feces, and resulting breakdown of the outermost layer of the skin called the stratum corneum.
In adults, the stratum corneum is made up of 25 to 30 layers of flattened dead skin cells which are continuously shed and replaced from beneath. These dead cells are interlaid with lipids secreted by the stratum granulosum just below, which help to make this layer of the skin a waterproof barrier.
Skin much thinner in tots
The stratum corneum’s function is to reduce water loss, repel water, protect deeper layers of the skin from injury and to repel microbial invasion of the skin. In infants, this layer of the skin is much thinner and more easily disrupted, hence they can experience a nappy rash.
But there are numerous reasons baby could fall prey to this agonising rawness. Often it is just something that happens to nappy-wearing babies, or it can be a wet nappy not being changed regularly, certain foods can trigger this and sometimes it can be a detergent causing the irritation. A nappy rash can also often occur via the breastfeeding mother’s diet.
Whatever the reason, it needs to be addressed immediately in order to spare baby even more pain and irritation.
Possible problems to eliminate
If your baby starts with a nappy rash and you are sure his nappy is never left on wet, check for things such as:
- Your diet is free from spicy or acidic foods if you are breastfeeding
- Ensure towelling or other re-usable nappies are thoroughly rinsed free of all detergents
- He has not developed a reaction to his food or bottle milk
- He is not disagreeing with any of the protective creams you may be applying to the area.
In persistent or severe nappy rashes an antifungal cream often has to be prescribed, but in cases where the rash is more of an irritation, your doctor may choose to give Baby a very mild topical corticosteroid preparation. But unless the rash is extremely vicious and showing no signs of healing there is really no need to rush to the doctor.
Moms across the globe have been treating their babies nappy rashes for centuries with good old, tried and tested remedies such as castor oil creams, barrier creams such as Vaseline, shark oils or cod liver oils or zinc oxide creams. These creams create a protective obstacle which helps prevent the acidic urine and feces from penetrating baby’s sensitive skin.
Going fancy free
Towelling and flannel nappies should only be washed with a mild detergent and even then they should be rinsed out twice. Try to let your baby go fancy free for long periods of time as the fresh air will help the healing, check your own diet and that of your baby’s and lastly change your tot’s bum frequently.
By giving your little one more liquids, including diluted cranberry juice, you will cool down his urine by diluting it and therefore make it less harsh when in contact with his skin.
Frequent cool baths, lightly sprinkled with a little baking soda, throughout the day will soothe and help heal this raw and burning condition.