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Nappy Rash - How to identify it, avoid it and cure it

Nappy rash affects a significant number of babies, with approximately 1 in 3 infants experiencing it before turning 2 years old.


Nappy rash affects a significant number of babies, with approximately 1 in 3 infants experiencing it before turning 2 years old. Fortunately, there are preventive measures and treatment strategies available for managing nappy rash occurrences.


To begin, it's important to comprehend the four distinct types of nappy rash:


  • Bacterial: A common form of nappy rash, often mild in nature, caused or exacerbated by contact with urine and feces. It typically initiates with a faint reddening of the skin in the diaper area and may escalate to discomfort and soreness.


  • Friction: Nappy rash due to friction, resulting from chafing or rubbing of sensitive skin against an ill-fitting nappy.


  • Fungal: Manifests as a vibrant red, moist rash accompanied by white or red pimples, spreading to skin folds. This type could indicate a thrush infection and requires prescribed antifungal cream.


  • Allergy: Sometimes persistent nappy rash might be linked to skin conditions like eczema or allergies.



Bacterial Nappy Rash in Babies: Causes and Preventive Measures


The most common type of nappy rash is a mild bacterial rash. The skin looks red and sore and can almost appear shiny. This is usually caused when the baby’s bottom is in contact with a wet or dirty nappy for a long period of time. A normal disposable nappy is made of plastic and traps heat and moisture inside. This combined with the wee or poo, makes a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Many parents note a nappy rash outbreak coincides with an event. These events may change the alkalinity/acidity and bacterial content of their babies' excretions.


1. Choose a breathable, natural material nappy


◼️ Whether you opt for disposable or cloth diapers, selecting those made from natural materials can enhance airflow and alleviate the risk of trapping moisture, often compared to the sensation of a "plastic bag."


◼️ Specifically, bamboo-based diaper alternatives have displayed remarkable efficacy due to their inherent antibacterial properties. Mama Bamboo's diapers, for instance, have garnered positive feedback from reviewers and experts alike for their ability to reduce diaper irritation in infants.


Bamboo nappies limit nappy rash naturally.


◼️ Maintaining Dryness: The foremost approach to combatting diaper rash involves ensuring your infant's skin remains as dry as possible. Bamboo fabric possesses exceptional absorbency, effectively drawing moisture away from your baby's delicate skin. Notably, bamboo has proven to be significantly more absorbent than cotton, with the capacity to absorb up to three times its weight in water.

◼️ Allow Air Circulation: In contrast to conventional disposables, bamboo-based diapers promote optimal airflow, facilitating skin breathability. Unlike regular disposable diapers that incorporate oil-based plastics like polypropylene, bamboo stands out for its inherent breathability. Imagine the sensation of wearing plastic undergarments as an adult - not the most pleasant thought, right? Bamboo, similar to silk, not only offers natural breathability but also boasts temperature-regulating attributes. This characteristic aids in maintaining a cool, dry, and healthy skin environment.


◼️ Temperature Regulation: Just like silk, bamboo features unique thermo-regulating properties, contributing to a cooler sensation on your baby's skin. Consequently, this helps reduce the activation of sweat glands present in the genital area, a factor that can exacerbate diaper rash.


◼️ Gentle Softness: Recognized for its remarkable softness, bamboo is frequently utilized in activewear for its 'no-rub' quality. While it effectively keeps the baby's skin dry, the diaper itself remains exceptionally gentle. This is particularly crucial as your little one becomes more mobile, eliminating any potential discomfort caused by rubbing against their sensitive skin.


◼️ Avoid Harsh Constituents: Infants possess skin that is considerably thinner and more sensitive than that of adults. A plethora of diapers incorporate substances that can trigger skin irritation. Opting for products devoid of chlorine, alcohol/ethanol, latex, PVC, and phthalates is pivotal in mitigating the occurrence of diaper rash, eczema, and skin sensitivity.


◼️ Chlorine-Free Approach: Many diapers employ chlorine, a principal component of bleach, for material and pulp whitening. Mama Bamboo diapers, however, are entirely free from elemental chlorine.


◼️ Alcohol-Free Design: Standard disposable diapers frequently include alcohol, also referred to as ethanol. This substance can dehydrate a baby's skin and potentially lead to irritation. Mama Bamboo diapers steer clear of alcohol content.


◼️ Phthalate-Free Assurance: Often concealed culprits, phthalates are utilized to confer flexibility and durability to plastics. Despite limited knowledge about their effects, numerous companies incorporate them into baby product ranges and personal care items.


By selecting a diaper that is exceptionally absorbent, temperature-regulating, breathable, and devoid of chlorine, alcohol, latex, PVC, and phthalates, you significantly reduce the likelihood of skin inflammation and discomfort in your precious baby.


2. Change your baby often

  • Change them as quickly as possible after they have pooed

  • And change them regularly when they have weed

  • A baby should be changed every couple of hours in the newborn stages; 10-12 nappy changes a day

3. Nappy free time

  • Leave the nappy off for as long as possible to let fresh air get to their delicate skin

  • Especially after a nappy change wait a few minutes to ensure your baby’s skin is totally dry before using a fresh nappy


4. Nappy cream

  • Proactive Use of Barrier Cream: As soon as you detect initial redness, apply a barrier cream to act as a safeguard against potential outbreaks.

5. Avoid irritants

  • Steer Clear of Irritating Substances: Avoid using soaps, detergents, or bubble bath products that could potentially irritate your baby's delicate skin.


Recognizing Signs of Severe Bacterial Rash


It's important to recognize that a simple diaper rash can escalate into an infection if left untreated. To gauge the severity, refer to the following 5-scale chart.



  • Bacterial nappy rash can be identified as a 4-5 level rash, with broken skin, infected spots or pimples.

  • Your baby is also likely to have a fever.

  • This type of nappy rash may need antibiotics so it’s best to see your GP for advice, treatment and monitoring as soon as possible.

Friction Rash

A common cause of nappy rash is friction caused by the nappy rubbing against your baby’s delicate skin.

  • Whether you use disposables or reusable do check the fit of the nappy.

  • It should be snug around the tummy but not too tight – you should be able to fit your finger inside the waistband.

  • The tabs should come around the sides and sit on the frontal sticky tape without having to cross over or meet – Most brands have a logo on their tape. You should sit be able to see this once the nappy is fastened.

  • The leg ruching should not leave deep red indents in your babies’ skin. If it does, it is too tight.

  • Conversely, a too-loose nappy can cause chafing between the thighs.

  • Check the size chart on the nappies but remember every baby is different, so it may be a case of using your intuition.


Fungal Rash


This kind of rash can sometimes happen if your baby is on antibiotics or if they have thrush.

  • A fungal rash shows as tiny red spots and the genitals can appear slightly swollen.

  • This needs to be treated using an anti-fungal cream, available on prescription from your GP.

  • This should be applied thinly to the affected area.

  • If the nappy rash is fungal it is important that you avoid your usual barrier cream as this can make the condition worse.


Sensitivity or Allergy Rash


Normal nappies are made using:


- Polypropylene

- Polyester

- Polyethylene

- Latex or PVC

- Chlorine-bleached pulp

- Superabsorbent polymers (SAP)

- Adhesives

- Dyes

- Perfumes

- Lotions


Remarkably, conventional diapers consist of over 80% plastic content. The materials encompass polyester, polyethylene, PVC, and polypropylene, enveloped in plastic layers.


Consider this: In the UK alone, approximately 3 billion plastic diapers ended up in landfills last year. The manufacturing of each diaper necessitates 150 ml of crude oil and involves harsh petrochemicals, often employing chlorine bleach. Opting for more skin- and environmentally-friendly alternatives, such as Mama Bamboo diapers, offers a solution. These diapers eschew oil-based plastics, latex, PVC, and chlorine, opting for natural dyes and avoiding fragrance or lotion. Mama Bamboo employs 100% bamboo viscose covers, chlorine-free pulp, and packaging, alongside 100% compostable liners. Alternatively, reusable diapers, particularly those with bamboo or organic cotton covers, provide a gentle option for your baby's delicate skin.


Comparison of Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers


Your choice of baby wipes significantly influences your baby's skin health, in addition to diaper selection. Baby wipes typically comprise six components:


- Fabric: Polyester, polypropylene, bamboo, cotton, or pulp

- Water: Ideally comprising over 99% of the content

- Detergents: Designed to eliminate dirt and reduce the need for rigorous scrubbing

- Moisturizing Agents

- pH Balancers

- Preservatives

- Some formulations even incorporate unnecessary fragrances.


While it is true that water is a crucial component in baby wipes, it's essential to note that water alone may not effectively remove stubborn residues or sustain a balanced skin pH, hindering microbial growth.


Notable Allergens and Sensitivity Triggers

Wipe Watch List

Polyester & Polypropylene 11 billion plastic wet wipes went into landfill last year in the UK alone! This is completely unnecessary. There are several good brands of fully compostable ones available. Choose a 100% plant-based zero plastic material like bamboo, wood pulp or organic cotton to avoid these and do your bit for the environment and stop using plastic wipes full stop.


Look for the following attributes:


- Paraben-free

- Phthalates-free

- Petroleum-free

- Fragrance-free


Beware of Ingredients like:


- Lanolin: Often sourced from pesticide-exposed sheep

- Boric Acid / Sodium Borate: Potential skin irritants, especially on broken skin

- Talc: Not suitable for baby skin due to its drying and irritating properties


An effective barrier cream should include at least 5% zinc or zinc oxide. Seek products displaying Leaping Bunny or Cruelty-Free badges.


Aiming for Rash-Free Days:


While some babies might experience nappy rash, preventive measures can significantly reduce its occurrence:


- Opt for natural material nappies

- Ensure a well-fitting diaper

- Regular changes, especially after bowel movements

- Allow diaper-free intervals for skin to breathe

- Utilize gentle wipes

- Be mindful of allergens


Addressing Nappy Rash


If nappy rash does occur, consider these steps:


- Provide more diaper-free time

- Analyze product ingredients and consider switching brands

- Employ a barrier cream for a brief period

- Seek medical advice if the condition persists beyond a few days, as it could signify a bacterial or fungal infection.

Author:

Mama Bamboo @mamabamboouk


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