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How to deal with a nappy rash

Nappy rash is a common condition that affects babies. The good news is that most cases of nappy rash are mild and usually not serious. The condition is characterized by a rash and inflammation (redness and soreness) which develops around the diaper area. As explained by Dr. Anne Irungu, a pediatrician, nappy rash is caused by irritation as a result of urine or stool contact with the skin especially if a soiled diaper or napkin is not changed quickly enough. The continuous rubbing and wetness on the skin can result into damage on the baby’s skin .Urine and faeces contain substances which can cause irritation if they stay into contact with the baby’s delicate skin for a long time hence development of a rash. The rash may be worse if a baby is having loose stools. In addition, infections by a skin fungi or Candida are common in newborns as they thrive in the warm moist area around the diaper area hence may result into a more sore rash. How to spot a nappy rash The baby’s bottom or the skin around the diaper area usually has red patches and appears raw. Blisters or pimples may be present. The affected region is tender and itchy especially when wiped. The baby can be very uncomfortable and irritable. The most ideal approach to deal with a nappy rash is to try and avoid it at all cost. These measures can help prevent your baby from developing a nappy rash or deal with it if it happens; Change the napkin frequently. Make sure to change the napkin immediately it becomes soiled or soaked. By doing this, you will be preventing the baby’s skin from being in contact with stools and urine for a prolonged time. Allow the baby a ‘diaper free’ moment. Whenever possible, untie the napkin or diaper and keep the area open. This allows the skin to get some fresh air hence maintaining dryness. It is not possible for a baby to stay without a napkin throughout but, the more the fresh air they get, the better for him or her. Remove the napkin or diaper and let the baby lay on a towel for some time every day. Make sure to change the towel the moment it is wet. After changing a soiled napkin, clean the napkin area properly using warm water and a soft washcloth or cotton wool. Use a towel to pat the area dry. Avoid rubbing the area with a towel as this can irritate the affected area. Do not tie a new diaper or napkin until the area is completely dry. Baby wipes are also effective at cleaning the diaper area as they contain alcohol which is a disinfectant. However, you may need to avoid them if the baby already has nappy rash because the alcohol can cause irritation to the inflamed area. Apply a barrier cream to the diaper area such as petroleum jelly or zinc cream. This helps protect the skin from wetness and prevents other irritants from getting into contact with the skin. Apply just enough barrier cream each time before you put on a clean diaper or napkin. Do not put plastic pants that are tight over the napkins. These can retain wetness which can cause a nappy rash or make an already existing nappy rash to become worse. Do not apply talcum powder because the baby’s skin needs to be moisturized and not dried. Additionally, it can cause irritation to the skin. A skin infection or certain skin conditions like eczema can develop at any part of the body and thus the inflammation will not get better with the above measures for a nappy rash. If a baby’s rash does not improve after a few days, it is good to take the baby to a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. By Rebecca Muthoni