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Nappy Rash

I have seen a lot of claims that one particular nappy type or another is responsible for more cases of nappy rash than another particular nappy type. In fact, a study conducted by Dr Jean Goldring from Bristol concluded that instances of nappy rash appear about equally, no matter what type of nappy a child wears.

However, adverts for disposables continue to imply that drier bottoms are less prone to rash, which seems to me to suggest that cloth nappied babies - being usually a bit wetter - are more prone to rash. This is plainly nonsense as, if there were a grain of truth in it, who would put their baby in a cloth nappy? Mothers are surely not so neglectful and heartless!

So, please be reassured that, no matter what anybody might say to you, your baby is no more likely to get nappy rash because (s)he wears a cloth nappy than if (s)he wore a disposable nappy. Being dry is not the same as being clean.

So how do babies get nappy rash?

It is usually caused by the inter-reaction of bacteria from poo with bacteria from wee. So basically, if our babies are left to sit in a pooey nappy that is also wet, they will get sore bums. This is equally true for disposables as cloth nappies, as even a disposable can only soak up liquid - there are still many bacteria from wee left on the surface of the nappy. If you want to prevent nappy rash, the best way to do it is by changing your baby's nappy as soon as you humanly can after each poo.

There are other circumstances in which babies get nappy rash, of course. For example thrush can cause a whitish rash on the bottom, and teething often upsets baby's stomach, producing a pretty acid poo which makes bottoms very sore. Some viruses can also cause fairly nasty bottoms. And a cloth nappy which hasn't been really thoroughly rinsed so that absolutely all the detergent is out of it can produce a rash of small, red spots all over the nappy area.

What to do about it?

Well, I have to say that if the baby has thrush (a whitish rash) or a virus (probably seems unwell and may have a temperature) the best thing to do is take him/her to your GP. If the rash seems to be a detergent rash, then wash all your nappies thoroughly in a very little detergent, and then put them on another complete cycle with no detergent at all. Watch the final rinse. If there are suds in it, there is still detergent in the nappies, so put them on yet another rinse. Repeat this until there are no suds in the final rinse! Even with this drastic action, the rash can take up to a week to clear but, in my experience, it doesn't cause the baby any distress once you've got all the detergent out of the nappies and the rash is no longer getting worse.

But for a teething rash, or an overdue nappy change rash, by far the most effective solution is, bizarrely, chamomile tea. Even if the bottom is quite raw, this is a very soothing and healing concoction. Simply make up a mug of chamomile tea (teabags are commonly available in the supermarket), allow it to 'stew' so it's good and strong, and allow it to cool. Then soak a booster or a muslin in the tea, wring it out slightly so it's wet but not absolutely dripping, and put it in the nappy - preferably overnight - so that it's directly against the baby's skin (ie don't put a liner on top of it.). Repeat this if necessary until the rash has disappeared, but in my experience one application overnight usually does the trick. This is also very soothing for eczema in the nappy area (or anywhere else if you can keep a wet cloth applied).

Incidentally, cooled chamomile tea also makes a very good solution for nappy wipes. 

If your baby's nappy rash persists then a trip to the GP is probably in order - I am not medically qualified and all of this is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice!