Nappy rash factsheet


Nappy rash is a common skin issue in babies and children who wear nappies or other products that catch urine and poo. It is also called irritant diaper dermatitis.

Nappy rash usually causes redness and irritation on the skin of the bottom, penis and vulva. This happens when a dirty nappy has been in contact with your child’s skin for too long. 

Moisture and chemicals from your child’s urine and poo will start to break down the top layer of the skin. This lets the urine and poo get through to more sensitive skin layers, causing pain, irritation and redness. Nappy rash can also lead to infections when it dries, and the skin starts to crack.

It is important to change your child’s nappy regularly, and as soon as possible after a poo.

Some children have sensitive skin and will get nappy rash more often, even if their nappy is changed regularly.

 Signs and symptoms

Nappy rash affects the skin around the bottom, penis, and vulva. 

Signs can include skin that is:

  • red 
  • puffy 
  • shiny looking and hard to apply the cream to
  • cracked and bleeding
  • crusted
  • blistered
  • covered in small, infected pimples called candida, or yeast infection.

Your child will probably be in pain and might be more upset than usual when they have their bottom wiped or their nappy changed.


You can see nappy rash; it does not need to be diagnosed by a doctor.

Severe or infected nappy rash will need to be seen by a doctor, especially if your child:

  • develops a fever
  • has a nappy rash that has not cleared up after a week
  • develops scabs, blisters, or bleeding
  • is otherwise distressed and in pain that cannot be managed.

Some medications, foods, developmental stages, and illnesses can increase the likelihood of nappy rash. Speak to your local doctor if you have any questions or concerns about managing nappy rash through different stages of your child’s development.


Nappy rash can be treated, but it is better to try and prevent it from developing.

You can prevent, treat, and manage nappy rash by:

  • giving your child plenty of nappy-free time at home
  • using a wet washer or sensitive wipes to clean their skin gently
  • changing nappies as soon as possible after they become dirty
  • washing all cloth nappies thoroughly, using the recommended cleaning routine from the manufacturer and the hottest cycle on your washing machine
  • regularly checking whether nappies and wipes are causing irritation
  • avoiding any plastic nappy covers or pants
  • using a protective barrier or nappy cream.

Barrier cream is also called nappy cream. There are many types available, and they can be bought from the pharmacy or supermarket.

Nappy creams create a barrier between the skin and the dirty nappy to prevent a rash from developing. They can also soothe and moisturise the skin while it heals.

Apply a thick layer of nappy cream around your child’s anus, penis, or vulva every time you change their nappy to prevent nappy rash.

Last updated Friday 19th January 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024