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Six creams to treat nappy rash 

Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 25.04.2023 | 2 min read

If your baby’s nappy rash is in full effect, you may need one or a combination of medications to get it under control. Some of these can be bought from the pharmacy, others may need a prescription from the doctor but knowing what’s available will give you an idea of how to manage the symptoms better. 

Emollient creams and barrier creams

Emollients are important to restore moisture in your baby’s bottom area. It is especially useful for dry and itchy skin. These need to be applied once, twice, or thrice a day depending on the need. Examples of emollients are creams such as Aveeno, Cetraben, Zeroderm and E45.

Barrier creams act as a barrier for your skin to prevent any irritation from affecting the skin and further drying it out. They are usually thick substances and so not a lot is required, and it is best applied to dry skin before the nappy is put on. Examples include Metanium or Benpethan.

Antiseptic creams

Antiseptic cream helps prevent infection, by providing a hostile environment in areas at risk of infection. They are not the same as antibacterial creams, as they do not treat an infection once it's established.

But they can be effective if your baby's rash looks redder or angrier than usual or if there are minor cuts or wounds present. You can apply antiseptic cream twice a day until the rash resolves. Examples include Sudocream or Savlon cream.

Antifungal creams and antibacterial creams

Thrush or candida can disrupt your baby's skin, as it's a warm and moist environment under the nappy, providing the perfect conditions for yeast and fungal infections. This will require antifungal creams, which your pharmacist or GP can advise you about. If this is the case, your doctor will need to prescribe this. Examples include clotrimazole (Canesten) and miconazole (Daktarin) cream.

If there are signs of a bacterial infection, antibacterial creams or oral antibiotic liquid may be prescribed by your doctor, depending on the severity. Bacterial infections look red, weepy and angry and they might be sore. Antibacterial creams such as fucidin cream are usually applied four times a day for about a week.

Steroid creams

Sometimes your doctor may consider prescribing antifungal creams or antibacterial creams with a mild steroid added in. This is useful when the rash is red, raised, inflamed and sore or itchy. The steroid is usually hydrocortisone and is mixed in with these substances to create such as Daktacort, Canesten HC or Fucidin H. These medications will need to be prescribed for a baby.

Make sure you only use a steroid cream for the shortest time needed. Although hydrocotisone is the mildest strength of steroid cream, a baby's skin is delicate and the strength is increased under a covering such as a nappy or the skin creases of the groin. Your doctor will guide you.

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