The simple inflammation of the skin of the baby (dermatitis) is called nappy rash. It often spreads over the area which the nappy of your newborn covers. The nappy rash causes soreness to your baby, which most of the time makes it irritable and uncomfortable. This problem is most commonly caused by chaffing or friction, irritation caused by stale urine and in some cases by fungal infections. The sore skin of your baby then loses the natural protective barrier that it has and becomes vulnerable and open to infections. Every baby who has urine or feces touching their sensitive bottom skin in the confined, warm space that the nappy provides is a potential victim of the nappy rash problem.
However, there are cases when the babies simply are prone to these rashes and often suffer from this condition and such ones when babies get rarely affected by the nappy rash condition. Sadly, the reasons for that are not clear, but it is known that in case your baby already has some kind of skin condition like a tendency to have dry skin or eczema then it is at a greater risk of nappy rash appearance. The dry skin is far less resistant to the irritation and at the same time is more vulnerable to any kind of damage.
Nappy rashes are a common result from:
- The effects of the feces – they contain enzymes that are quite irritating, Candida albicans (which is the thrush causing yeast) and bacteria. The feces’ presence increases the normally slightly acidic pH of the skin, which makes it susceptible to damage.
- Urine effects – when combined with the fecal enzymes (mentioned above) urine turns into ammonia, which is a smelly and harmful chemical that attacks the skin.
- Effects of wetness – no matter what the cause for the wetness is - be it urine, feces or usage of nappies and creams which prevent the moisture from evaporating, it can often cause skin irritation. The skin that is wet will eventually get damaged and macerated.
- Friction – friction and chafing between the skin and the nappy may damage the delicate skin of the newborn. The same effect can be seen if rubbing and handling roughly.
- Chemicals’ effects – there are lotions, creams and harsh soaps that may irritate your baby. These may strip the protective barrier of the baby’s skin, which will make it itchy and dry.
- Allergies – your baby may have an unwanted reaction to detergents, nappy components or chemicals that you use when laundering the cloth nappies. This also is a common cause for the appearance of the nappy rash problem.
- Raised temperature – if there is warmth beneath the baby’s nappy then it’s possible for a nappy rash to occur.
- Yeast – Candida albicans cannot find a better place than the moist, warm nappy for its growth and eventual skin infection.
How can you know that your baby has a nappy rash?
The rash’s (or baby rød numse udslæt in Danish) location and the appearance of the skin are quite characteristic. The skin will have reddish color and at times it may be spotty. In case a nappy rash starts to affect other body parts then it has evolved into a more serious inflamation . By using the tips above, you'll be able to change your baby's diaper (or Følsom hud bleskift as we Danes say) and avoid rashes.