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Baby’s bottom

Treating dermatitis

In Babys affected by diaper (nappy) dermatitis, the skin in the nappy area is red, sometimes swollen, and covered with small blisters or pustules. The buttocks, genitals and inner thighs are particularly affected. Skin folds, on the other hand, are often left out.
Marta Campbell
11.07.2022  08:30 Uhr

If the erythematous papules spread over the nappy region or if open, weeping areas and crusts appear, this indicates a secondary infection. Common pathogens are Candida albicans as a trigger of nappy thrush or Staphylococcus aureus. Babys between the ages of nine and twelve months are most susceptible. During this time, parents often wean them off breast milk and complementary foods usually play a major role. Typical risk factors for nappy dermatitis are also changing nappies too infrequently, excessive hygiene and unsuitable cleaning and care products. Diarrhoea, acidic or spicy foods and certain medicines such as antibiotics can also promote the development of the condition.

A sore baby’s bottom is caused by an interplay of irritating, enzymatic and microbial factors in the warm and moist nappy environment. A tight-fitting and tightly sealed nappy does not let out urine or stool, but it is a strain on the skin. Not only is it mechanically stressed when the nappy chafes, the occlusion effect also impairs its natural barrier function and makes it more permeable. This makes baby’s skin more susceptible to infections with bacteria or (yeast) fungi, which find optimal growth conditions inside the nappy. Another problem is irritating substances from stool and urine. Even modern absorbent materials cannot completely prevent the skin from coming into contact with the excreta.

Known scheme

Recommendations for the prophylaxis and therapy of nappy dermatitis were summarised in 1999 by the US-American dermatologist Susan Boiko using the first five letters of the alphabet, i.e. ABCDE, as an acronym. The A to E criteria are still considered the therapy standard today and are based on avoiding occlusion effects, protecting baby’s skin and cleaning it thoroughly on a regular basis, optimising nappy care and educating parents about the skin disease. A = air: Baby’s bottom needs air. The skin can recover during diaper-free periods. B = barrier: The natural skin barrier is the best protection. Parents can strengthen it with suitable care products. C = clean: A clean nappy not only makes the baby feel comfortable, but also protects the skin from contact with irritating substances from urine and stool. When changing nappies, parents should carefully clean their baby’s bottom. D = diapers: The ideal diaper (nappy) should absorb urine quickly and at the same time be breathable and preferably also sustainable. Most of the time it remains a compromise solution. If intolerance reactions occur, a change of nappy brand is advisable. E = education: In the case of nappy dermatitis, professionals such as the paediatrician, midwife or pharmacy team can educate and give tips on treatment and prevention.

If sores have already formed, the classic zinc oxide accelerates healing (as in Dentinox® zinc ointment, Dialon® zinc ointment or Retterspitz® zinc ointment). Zinc oxide has a weak disinfecting effect and binds moisture. Preparations with a high zinc oxide content, such as in Weiche Zinkpaste DAB (soft zinc oxide paste), form a protective barrier and keep aggressive components from stool and urine away from the skin. They work well during periods when the skin is very irritated or when baby’s bottom needs to be protected from watery diarrhoea. Outside of these phases, however, they can be harmful if they impair the nappy’s ability to absorb and thus increase the damp climate.

Observe allergies

Many zinc ointments contain petrolatum (Vaseline) and lanolin. Vaseline penetrates well into the skin and strengthens the skin barrier. Wool wax, also called lanolin, has excellent water-absorbing properties and cares for the skin. Lanolin is also contained in greasy or healing wool, which is an insider tip for reddened areas. Parents put the washed but otherwise natural sheep’s wool into the fresh nappy. There, the wool creates an air cushion that allows the skin to breathe better. However, some children are allergic to wool wax. In these cases, both wool and lanolin should be avoided.

In the early stages of nappy dermatitis, PTA can recommend creams, moist compresses or sitz baths with natural or synthetic tanning agents (as in Tannolact®, Tannosynt® liquid or Tannosynt® cream). They have an astringent and anti-inflammatory effect. Some protective and caring ointments additionally pamper baby’s skin with dexpanthenol (as in Bepanthen® Wound and Healing Ointment), beeswax or plant extracts and oils (as in Weleda® Calendula Wound Protection Cream, Multilind® DermaCare Protect Care Cream). Cod liver oil and urea (as in Mirfulan® Wound and Healing Ointment, Desitin® Ointment) help the skin to regenerate.

When on the way, appropriate care sprays (such as Desitin® Ointment Spray or Mirfulan® Spray N) are a good addition to the diaper bag. On the other hand, baby powder, which is popular with some people, is obsolete because the risk of perspiration is too great and lumps can form that chafe the skin.

Deutsch/German Englisch/English
Babypuder baby powder
Beikost supplementary food
Haut skin
Hautfalte skin fold
Heilwolle healing wool
Muttermilch breastmilk
Papeln papules
Po bottom, buttocks
Reinigen clean
Rötung redness
Säugling baby, infant
Schmerzhaft painful
Stuhl stool
Urin urine
Windel diapers, nappies
Windeldermatitis diaper dermatitis
Windelsoor nappy sores
Wollwachs woolwax, lanolin
Wundschutzcreme wound protection cream, rash cream
Zinksalbe zink oxide paste/cream, zink ointment
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