Diaper rash, also called nappy rash in British English, is the name given to skin rashes that occur in the diaper region. It often appears as small red, raised dots that can become inflamed and show a white head. Diaper rash is usually uncomfortable for the baby and may make them fussy. Keeping the area dry and clean through regular diaper changes can decrease the occurrences of diaper rash. What is the cause of this skin rash? Read on to find out.
What causes diaper rash?
Despite the name, the rash is not usually caused by the diaper. Diaper rash is caused by prolonged wetness and the change of pH levels on the skin. This occurs when the urine and feces becomes trapped in the diaper. The higher pH level causes the first layer of the skin to break down. In infants the first layer of skin or stratum corneum is very thin and is easily damaged. Diarrhea, tight diapers, frequent stools, high level of ammonia (found in urine) and infrequent diaper changes can contribute to the development of diaper rash. The mix of urine and feces in the diaper causes high levels or ammonia and enzyme activity which increases the absorption of bile salts into the skin, which causes skin irritation.
Diaper rash can also be caused by allergic contact dermatitis. Baby skin is very delicate and can easily be affected by dyes and materials used in disposable diapers. Laundry liquids and powders can also cause allergic contact dermatitis when using cloth nappies. In rare cases the rash can be caused by the diaper rash creams and powders designed to help the problem.
Other factors in diaper rash include diet and antibiotics. Diaper rash can be linked to the baby’s diet. Foods contribute to fecal composition and foods high in acids are known to cause occurrences of diaper rash. Antibiotics also affect the gastrointestinal tract by unbalancing the intestinal micro flora.