Community Pharmacy

Baby’s skin – how to avoid or treat rashes/skin conditions

There are few things in this world more delicate than a baby’s skin, so it’s not surprising that skin rash is a common condition in babies and toddlers due to skin inflammation.  Indeed, up to one third of all nappy-wearing babies are thought to have nappy rash at any one time.  No mum or dad wants to see their little one in pain or discomfort so when skin rashes appear, it can be an upsetting time for everyone concerned. OTC Awards finalists WaterWipes, an Irish brand, was actually created by a concerned father, Edward McCloskey, after discovering his newborn daughter suffered from nappy rash and sensitive skin.

Fidelma O’Dowd, dermatology advanced nurse at Beaumont Hospital, has some practical advice on what can cause skin rashes to flare up in babies and toddlers and the best ways to treat them.

Possible causes to watch out for

  • Factors in your baby’s environment including irritants such as soaps, detergents and other chemical ingredients in products that are applied to your baby’s skin as well as heat, dust, woollen clothing and pets;
  • Being unwell can cause a flare-up – even the common cold
  • Dryness of the skin
  • Teething
  • In some babies and toddlers, food allergens may rarely cause a flare up.
  • Stress.  Parents aren’t the only ones who can be stressed. Babies can feel stress too, caused by viral infection, or if baby is too warm or in pain.
  • Infections with bacteria or viruses can worsen skin rashes/ irritations. Bacterial infection, for example, makes the skin yellow, crusty and inflamed. If this type of skin rash develops, please seek medical advice.

How to treat skin rash

  • Treat a skin rash early – the more severe it becomes, the more difficult it is to control.
  • Check the ingredients in the products you are already using or applying to baby’s skin as they may contain chemicals that are causing or aggravating the inflammation.
  • Moisturise your baby’s skin as often as possible, ideally at least 2-3 times each day using the most greasy, non-perfumed moisturiser. Be careful not dip your fingers in and out of the pot as it may become contaminated and a source of infection. Where possible use a spoon or spatula to scoop out some moisturiser and place it on kitchen paper or a saucer.
  • Wash your little one with moisturiser instead of soap (known as a soap substitute), and avoid soap bubble baths, shower gels and detergents.
  • It’s not always easy but try to limit your baby from scratching their rash. Placing small mittens or socks on their hands at night will help.
  • Keep your baby cool. Overheating can make skin rash/irritations itch more.
  • Wash all your baby’s clothes with a non-biological washing powder and use a double rinse cycle to remove residues from the clothing.
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