Napkin dermatitis

Author: A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 1997. Updated July 2014.

What is napkin dermatitis?

Napkin dermatitis and nappy rash are used to describe various skin conditions that affect the skin under a baby's napkin. The US term is diaper rash. Napkin dermatitis is most often a form of contact dermatitis.

Who gets nappy rash?

Nappy rash most often affects babies aged 3 to 15 months of age, especially those wearing traditional cloth nappies (50%). It is much less prevalent in babies wearing modern breathable and multilayered disposable nappies.

Napkin dermatitis can also affect older children and adults that are incontinent.

More images of napkin dermatitis ...

What is the cause of napkin dermatitis?

Napkin dermatitis follows damage to the normal skin barrier and is primarily a form of irritant contact dermatitis.

Other causes of napkin rashes include:

Napkin dermatitis is not due to:

What are the clinical features of napkin dermatitis?

One or more forms of napkin rash may be present.

What tests should be done?

In most cases, no tests are necessary. Skin swabs may be useful to confirm yeast or bacterial infection.

What is the treatment for napkin dermatitis?

General measures

The need to keep baby dry and use barrier protection should be emphasised. Napkin dermatitis is much less common with modern disposable napkins compared to cloth varieties.

Disposable nappies:

If using cloth nappies, use nappy liners to keep the skin dry. Avoid plastic pants.

At napkin changes:

Other suggestions:

Prescription treatments

Related information

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