What is it?
It is a rash that can vary from a red rash to bad inflammation with sores and pimples.
Why does it happen?
A baby's skin is so new that it has difficulties dealing with soaps creams and lotions, even especially gentle ones which are designed specifically for babies.
Another common cause of nappy rash in babies, particularly newborns, is thrush. Talk to your LMC or doctor if you suspect your baby has thrush as he or she will need an antifungal treatment cream.
Nappy rash can also be caused by friction from the nappy rubbing on baby's delicate skin, or if the nappy is not changed frequently enough.
Occasionally some babies will get nappy rash from the chemicals in disposable nappies - if this occurs try using a different brand, or using cloth nappies.
Nappy rash can also occur if the skin is left damp. Once the problem begins it only gets worse if untreated and the broken skin provides a breading ground for other infections.
What can I do?
Try not to use toiletries (wet wipes, powders, lotions etc.), and if you must, only use the very mild ones. Warm water is best. Frequent nappy changes are important, especially after bowel motions.
There is debate regarding the use of creams and lotions on the affected area, some parents find they are a help and others find they only make the problem worse. Zinc-based barrier creams may be helpful, although beware of creams that contain both zinc and castor as they usually contain arachis (nut) oil which can be harmful to babies with a history of allergy. There are also a large number of homeopathic nappy rash treatments available, consult your local natural health practitioner or health foods store for advice on these. Vaseline makes a good barrier cream to help prevent nappy rash but is not recommended for treating existing rashes.
The best thing you can do to help prevent nappy rash is to allow your baby "nappy-off" time at least once a day to allow his or her bottom time to breathe. Be sure to put a cloth underneath baby to protect the carpet from little puddles!