Child health & common illnesses
A parent’s guide from birth to five
Rashes & dry skin

Nappy rash & cradle cap

A common problem that's easy to treat

Nappy rash

Nappy rash is very common and can affect lots of babies. It is usually caused when your baby's skin comes into contact with wetness that collects in their nappy. A nappy rash causes your baby's skin to become sore. The skin in this area may be covered in red spots or blotches. You should change their nappy more often.

Most nappy rashes can be treated with a simple skincare routine and by using a cream you can get from the pharmacist. Talk to your pharmacist about creams that you can buy over the counter. There are two types of nappy cream available. One is a barrier cream to keep wetness away from your baby's skin. The other is a medicated cream, that is good for clearing up any soreness but should only be used when advised by a health professional. With a mild nappy rash, your baby won't normally feel too much discomfort.


Eczema is common in babies and they normally grow out of the condition, it often starts between the ages of two and four months. The symptoms are patches of red, dry and itchy skin. If you think your child has eczema, speak to your GP or health visitor. In all cases of eczema, frequent unperfumed emollients (moisturisers) help.

Health visitor

Health visitor’s nappy rash tips

Leave your baby in a warm, safe place with no clothes or nappy on, to let the air get to their skin.

Use a barrier cream.

Remember to change and check their nappy often.


There is a red, sore rash around the nappy area. Baby is uncomfortable and cries a lot.


Has baby been in a dirty nappy for a long time? Have you followed advice from your health visitor, or spoken to your pharmacist?


Change nappies often. Speak to your health visitor and if you are still worried, your GP.

Health visitor's cradle cap tips

This is the name given to the greasy yellow-brown scales and crusting affecting the scalp in newborn babies.

Do not pick the scales as this may increase the risk of infection. It is not a serious condition and is not contagious. It is not usually itchy and will usually clear up within a few months.

Soften the scales with natural oil such as coconut oil (not olive oil) overnight. After softening the scales use a soft brush or cloth and gently remove any loose scales and wash the hair with a baby shampoo. If any hair comes out with the scales it will grow back.

Gently wash the baby’s hair and scalp with a baby shampoo. Use a soft brush or cloth to loosen and remove the loose skin flakes.

Talk to your health visitor if the rash spreads or there is any infection or oozing.

Source: NICE CKS 2013