Bottoms up! Natural remedies for nappy rash

Photography: Marijke Smith

Every parent understands that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and while it’s probably certain the great Benjamin Franklin wasn’t thinking about nappy rash when he first uttered those now famous words, it’s a quote that couldn’t be more perfectly applied!

Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies as it acts as a barrier and filter to our environmental surroundings. But it takes time for it become the great protector it’s destined to be and as a result, a baby’s skin is much softer, more delicate and more permeable than our own.

Because of this, most babies experience the dreaded nappy rash at some point or another.  It can be caused by a myriad of factors, and it’s never a pleasant time for baby or parent! But there are ways to help prevent the occurrence by giving delicate skin a little helping hand.

The best defence against nappy rash is to keep your little one’s bottom as dry as possible, and there are some wonderful products out there to assist*.

As baby’s skin is so sensitive it’s important to take care when picking what to apply. There are so many brands promising a cure out there that the choice can feel a bit mind-boggling. Add to that the different solutions available – lotions, balms, powders, oh my!  If you’ve found the brand you feel the most comfortable using, the next question is usually which product to plump for.

To help a child’s skin to better act as the moisture barrier it strives to be, body powders and barrier balms are top choices for many parents. However, because baby’s skin is so sensitive and especially in this area, it’s important to check that whichever products you chose are made of high quality, natural or organic ingredients to minimise any risk of irritation.

In light of the recent controversy around powders that contain talc – a common ingredient found in many baby care products – it’s a good time to get to know what other options are out there so you can make a confident choice for your little one.

There’s been a global shift away from products containing talc due to research revealing its potential links to cancer. The reason talc has been so popular in decades past is because of its effectiveness in absorbing moisture and forming a barrier on the skin – the ideal result when looking to prevent a problem like nappy rash.

While studies are still conflicting, there are many other ingredients that provide the same desired effects without the safety queries, so why not play it safe and pick the alternatives that are already sitting patiently on the supermarket shelf.

When baby wriggles around, the friction from the nappy can cause a chafing rash around the bottom and leg area.  A body powder specially made for little ones is a great solution for this as it helps the nappy to glide more effortlessly against the skin.

Try to use a talc-free product that has a mild blend of natural powders that help absorb excess moisture and avoid chafing, all while keeping little skin smooth, comfortable and dry. Tapioca starch is a widely acknowledged alternative to talc, as it is highly absorbent of natural oils and perspiration.  Kaolin clay is also a wonderful inclusion; it’s mineral based and naturally found in powder form, and is particularly effective on sensitive skin.

If you’re not a fan of using powder, an alternative to try is a bottom balm, another great product which deters moisture and irritants from reaching the skin.  While most nappies absorb the majority of moisture, there’s usually a residual amount remaining which sits against baby’s delicate skin, making it harder for it to act as a natural barrier and increasing the chances of irritation.

Applying balm hydrates the area whilst adding an additional barrier layer to avert the rash. It’s also a great topical treatment to soothe and cool baby’s bottom when a rash is already present.

When looking for ingredients in a barrier cream or balm, try to find the right balance between a protective layer and a nourishing aid. Using quality natural ingredients, a balm will form a mild protective barrier against moisture, while still allowing little skin to breathe. Chamomile flower and castor seed oil are key ingredients to be on the lookout for, to help to soothe and nourish little skin to keep it as smooth as, well, a baby’s bottom!

Other ways to keep baby’s bottom as healthy as possible include keeping the area clean, so change your little one’s nappy as soon as you know it is needed. There are also natural and organic nappies now available on the market – worth trying if you think bubba might be allergic to something in the fabric. Taking time to air dry baby’s bottom when changing diapers is an added effective measure, although it’s easier done before they learn to walk!  If you’re game, pop a towel down and let the little one chill out for as long as possible without a nappy to better help baby’s skin to breathe.

Nappy rash has happened to every baby at some point in time, but being armed with a few preventative measures along with natural or organic products will minimise the risk of it occurring, making for a much happier (and drier!) household.


*No retail products should be used on broken skin – if you notice the rash it is blistering or raw, is getting worse after a few days, or you’re just not sure, take your baby to your doctor for a professional diagnosis.

Check out the Little Skinfood range for great options for your baby’s bottom!

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