Nappy rash

What is it? What are the symptoms? What are the treatments?

What is nappy rash?

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A rash that occurs on or around nappy-wearing children's genitals and bottom. It's caused by a sensitivity to contact with urine and faeces and is more severe in some children than others. Symptoms are made worse by leaving long periods between nappy changes. Severe cases of nappy rash might be caused by an underlying condition or a bacterial or fungal infection.

What are the symptoms of Nappy rash?

Pink or red spots or blotches appear in small areas of the genitals and/or buttocks. Usually these are not sore, but may cause a stinging sensation when in contact with a soiled nappy.
In severe cases, you may see ulcerated areas of skin, dry, cracked skin or blisters. The spots or blotches may cover a larger area and be bright red and angry looking. This will cause your child a lot of discomfort and he may cry more than usual and seem generally distressed. If your child develops a fever with nappy rash, this could indicate infection and needs to be seen by a doctor or other health professional.

What are the treatments and remedies of Nappy rash?

Mild nappy rash can usually be cured by changing your child's nappy as soon as you notice it's been soiled. Use only cotton wool and water to clean your baby's nappy area. You can buy creams specially formulated for the treatment of nappy rash, which may also help form a barrier between your baby's skin and his urine or faeces. It can also help if you leave his nappy off for as long as possible in between changes to let the air get to his skin – and avoid using soap-based products or detergents when you bath him. There are also some creams which are proven to be "preventative" so putting a thin film of cream on after every nappy change can help stop nappy rash developing in the first place.
If an infection is diagnosed, your GP may prescribe an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial or mild steroid cream to apply to the affected area. Make sure you follow the instructions on the packet.


This guide 

The information in this Bounty A-Z of Family Health is not a substitute for an examination, diagnosis or treatment by a doctor, midwife, health visitor or any other qualified health professional. If in doubt, always speak to a doctor.

Bounty will not be held responsible or liable for any injury, loss, damage, or illness, however this occurs or appears, after using the information given on this website and in particular the A-Z of Family Health.

Further help

For health advice and information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the NHS offers call and web services. You can also visit NHS websites for services, health information and health news at nhs.uk 

  • England – call 111 from any landline or mobile phone free of charge, or visit nhs.uk 
  • Scotland – call 111 from any landline or mobile phone free of charge, or visit nhs24.com 
  • Wales – call 0845 4647 , or visit nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk 
  • Northern Ireland – visit hscni.net

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Nappy rash