Health advice

Nappy rash

Mother changing baby's nappy on the bed

Nappy rash happens when your baby has come into contact with a wet or dirty nappy and their skin reacts. Learn how to manage the symptoms of nappy rash at home and when to get advice from a GP or pharmacist.

What is nappy rash?

Nappy rash is a reaction on your baby’s skin to wet or dirty nappies. It happens to most babies and is usually quite mild, but some babies might get it worse than others.1

Babies have sensitive skin, so it is important to keep it clean and dry as much as possible.

What are the symptoms of nappy rash?

If your baby has nappy rash, they will have red patches on their skin around the nappy area. These may feel spotty, look sore, or might be hot to touch.2

Other symptoms of nappy rash include:

  • Raw patches of skin on your baby’s bottom
  • Scaly and dry skin
  • An itchy or painful bottom
  • Your baby feeling uncomfortable and distressed
  • Red or brown spots on your baby’s bottom.2
  • What causes nappy rash?

    Nappy rash occurs when your baby’s skin reacts to being in contact with wet or dirty nappies. Babies have sensitive skin, and the skin barrier can be damaged from friction and long periods of dampness.1

    Babies are more likely to get nappy rash if:

  • Their nappy isn’t changed frequently
  • Their nappy area isn’t cleaned often enough
  • Their nappy is rubbing against their skin
  • They are allergic to certain detergents, soaps or bath products
  • You use certain products like, baby wipes with fragrance or alcohol, on their skin
  • They are taking certain medication e.g., laxatives and antibiotics
  • They have thrush (a fungal infection).2
  • How do you treat nappy rash?

    Usually, nappy rash is mild and can be treated at home.

    If your baby has nappy rash you can try:

  • Swapping nappies to ones with a higher absorbency
  • Checking the nappy is not too tight around your baby’s waist and legs
  • Checking the nappy isn’t too loose
  • Leaving nappies off as much as possible to help skin dry
  • Cleaning your baby’s skin and changing their nappy every 3 to 4 hours
  • Changing wet and dirty nappies as soon as possible
  • Using wipes that are alcohol- and fragrance-free
  • Being gentle while drying your baby’s skin
  • Bathing your baby no more than once a day to avoid drying out their skin
  • Avoiding the use of soap, bubble bath, lotions and talcum powder.3
  • You should avoid the use of certain antibiotics that can cause skin irritation.3

    If your baby’s rash doesn’t go away on its own, you should talk to your GP. They will be able to prescribe treatment to help sooth pain or irritation on your baby’s skin.2

    You can also speak to your local pharmacist about treatments for nappy rash.

    Visit your nearest pharmacy

    Get support and advice from your local Well pharmacist

    Where can I get further support and information?

    NHS website

    Information about nappy rash, including symptoms, what causes nappy rash and how to treat it.

    NHS inform

    Information for people living in Scotland.

    1. Nappy Rash: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment. Published May 16, 2023. Accessed August 10, 2023.
    2. Nappy rash. Published December 7, 2020. Accessed August 9, 2023.
    3. Nappy rash | Health topics A to Z | CKS | NICE. Accessed August 9, 2023.

    Published: September 2023

    Next review: September 2026

    Reviewer: Mital Thakrar

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