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Health > Nappy Rash

Nappy Rash

Nappy Rash Fact Sheet

Nappy Rash is the inflammation of the skin around the nappy area.

What to look for

  • a burn-like red rash over the nappy area
  • if not treated, the rash can become infected and thrush sets in - the rash will become shiny and bright red with patches.
  • in boys, an inflamed penis.

Almost all babies develop a nappy rash at some time and it is rarely serious. Most cases do not last long and can be treated easily enough.
Your baby can get nappy rash whether you use disposable or cloth diapers; it is moisture which is the problem, not the nappy itself. Keeping your child clean and changing a nappy soon after it is soiled is the key to avoiding this problem.


This problem can be caused by:

  • Nappies left on too long
  • If cloth nappies are not washed properly and the bacteria are left in there.
  • inadequate drying of the baby's skin after a bath
  • allergic reaction to lotions or soaps
  • chemicals in the laundry detergent
  • thrush, a type of yeast infection

Traditional Treatment

Most diaper rashes respond well to home treatments and require no medical care. If your baby's rash fails to improve after three or four days, see your doctor
For an ordinary rash, the doctor may recommend an over-the-counter ointment containing zinc oxide to protect the skin. If there is a bacterial infection present, see your doctor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Aromatherapy - Mix 2 drops each of essential oils of sandalwood, peppermint, and lavender in 4 tbsp of a carrier lotion or oil such as sweet almond oil; gently apply the lotion to the reddened area of skin. Do not use on babies younger than 2 weeks. See our aromatherapy section. Always seek the advice of a professional with regards to the use of aromatherapy oils on young children.
Herbal Therapies - Calendula cream may relieve diaper rash.

Personal Care

At the first sign of redness, wash your baby's bottom with warm water, and dry it thoroughly. Then apply an antiseptic cream and a barrier ointment, such as sorbolene cream mixed with water, or zinc oxide, to protect the skin.
Use oilated oatmeal or raw oats in your baby’s bath. Oatmeal is very good to use on the rashes.
Change your baby's nappy as soon as it becomes soiled.
Until the rash clears up, avoid plastic pants or diaper covers, which trap moisture.


Keep your baby dry and clean and change the baby's nappy as soon as it becomes soiled.
Do not use strong detergents and creams which may irritate your baby’s skin.
When drying nappies, hang them outside in the sun, then put in the drier for several minutes to soften them.
Keep nappies off as often as you can to let air into the area - not too often outside in the open hot sun.
Wash cloth nappies in hot water and sterilise well.
If the entire nappy area is red and irritated, the child may be allergic to your detergent. Try another brand to see if the rash clears.
The best preventive measure is to let your baby go without nappies as much as possible.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you see no improvement after four days of home treatment,
  • the rash is scaly and has a yellowish colour or is blistered
  • your son's penis is swollen and red.

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