All children will develop rashes in the area of the groin and buttocks at some point. Indeed, if an adult were to spend time in moist underwear, as is often the case after a workout at the gym or other exercise, rashes and the associated irritation or discomfort would become apparent all too soon.

Nappy rash is a red, irritating and occasionally spotty condition found in and around the areas covered by the nappy. It is caused by ammonia in the urine and digestive juices from the faeces irritating the skin.

It is important to differentiate this common rash from more persistent and irritating conditions such as Candida (thrush) or bacterial, viral or fungal infections. Occasionally secondary infection from normal skin bacteria or skin fungi will worsen the situation. Infection by Candida (thrush) is not uncommon.

A persisting or frequently recurring rash may be indicative of more serious conditions such as diabetes.


Any rash that doe’s not respond to the suggestions below after 48-72hr should be seen by a physician for a firm diagnosis.

Allow the baby to spend as much time as possible without a nappy on.

Change nappies frequently and ensure that the area is cleaned three times a day using water or simple non-chemically treated soaps.

Use non-medicated talc liberally before bed and with every other nappy change throughout the day.

Treat a rash as soon as it appears using a zinc or caster oil cream before applying a nappy, especially at night. Try Arnica or Calendula creams. These may make the area more inflamed because the principle of a herbal treatment is to pull blood into the area to allow healing to occur more quickly. If this is the case, desist from use. Clean the creams off at these times when you are able to expose the baby’s skin to the air.

Most irritant rashes will benefit from the application of zinc oxide creams. These should be used with the knowledge that they are barrier creams and a generous application is required. These creams do not need to be rubbed in but are left on the surface.

The use of creams containing benzyl compounds is acceptable if natural products are not dealing with the problem.

The homeopathic remedy Anacardium 6 can be used every 2hr if the child is irritable, Bovista if the rash is associated with diarrhoea and is worse in the morning, Hepar sulphuris calcarium if recurrent, Rhus toxicodendron if the area appears swollen and Urtica urens if the rash resembles a nettle sting.

Persisting recurrence may be related to diet or the mother’s intake if the baby is breast-fed, and a nutritionist could be asked for advice.