How serious is nappy rash?

We all know that looking after your baby’s skin is important. I mean, you don’t need a rocket scientist to tell you that the skin in the nappy area is the most vulnerable. Sadly, a nappy rash gone out of control can turn deadly, due to hostile bacteria that can affect baby’s health. Scary, right? I mean, it’s just a nappy rash! But pioneer, Doctor Carol Hlela, who is a pediatric dermatologist and a leader in providing quality skin care, for babies in South Africa, shared some interesting tips and information at the JOHNSON’S® Baby Health wet wipes masterclass last week. JOHNSON’S Baby invited myself and a few others to Johannesburg to learn more about baby skin health and I need to let you guys in on it!

The masterclass was hosted by stunning Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, who facilitated a great discussion regarding baby skin health, alongside the very impressive Professor Carol Hlela and JOHNSON’S® Baby Portfolio Manager, Jacquelyn Paterson.

Dr Hlela shared testimony of babies who have suffered trauma and have lost their lives due to poorly managed skin health. In all honesty, a story like this may not happen to a baby in your circle or my circle, but the truth is, it IS happening! The poor socio-economic conditions, in certain parts of South Africa, make it more difficult for mother’s to properly look after their baby’s skin. And a seemingly annoying nappy rash can get out of control, letting in bacteria that can impact negatively on the child’s health.

Why is healthy skin important?
Well Dr Hlela says that the skin serves as a protective barrier that prevents infections, water loss and the penetration of irritants and allergens. Besides for baby skin being up to 3 times thinner than an adult’s, it also loses moisture 5 times faster. The first few month’s of a baby’s life is crucial – so you want to make sure that they are protected from germs and bacteria. Cracked skin allows germs to pass through more easily.

How can I keep baby’s nappy area healthy?
Dr Hlela introduced us to the ABCDE steps to protecting the delicate skin barrier of a baby:

A – Air: Exposing the area to fresh air frequently and for as long as possible
B – Barrier: Using a barrier cream that provides lipid film to protect against irritants such as urine and stool
C – Cleansing: Making sure to cleanse the area with a baby wipe at each nappy change
D – Diaper: Using super absorbent diapers, changing baby frequently
E – Educate: Educating other moms and care givers to follow the proper nappy hygiene skin care practices

Okay, so what’s the big deal about wet wipes?
You guys, have you ever visited the baby aisle and felt overwhelmed at the vast array of wet wipes available? How do you even know which one to choose?! Well here are a bunch of factors to consider when choosing baby wipes and skin care products:

  • Make sure the type of fabric used for the wipes is 100% cotton. This will ensure that it is soft for the skin and reduces friction.
  • Check if it has gentle emollients to protect skin from damage caused by frequent cleansing.
  • Even water has a higher pH level than that of baby skin, sometimes causing dryness. Look for a wipe that is as close as possible to baby’s natural pH level which is around 5.5.
  • Mildly fragranced wipes are okay, fragrance-free is better. Not all fragrance is skin appropriate.
  • Educate yourself! Read the ingredients! Avoid strong chemicals such as alcohol, soap, triclosan and even essential oils (which can be an irritant),

I love that JOHNSON’S®Baby takes baby’s skin seriously. All the JOHNSON’S®Baby products are hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested and paraben-free. They’ve even launched a JOHNSON’S®Baby Healthy Skin Project, in partnership with Unjani Clinics, in a bid to provide thousands of mothers and babies in impoverished areas with access to treatment.

Unjani is a sustainable initiative that aims to strengthen health systems in low-income communities throughout South Africa. Dr Carol Hlela helps to educate Health Care Professionals in these communities about baby and skin health. Because of this amazing initiative, more mother’s are now made aware of ways to protect and care for their baby’s skin and JOHNSON’S® Baby even gifts them with product to help them do so.

nappy rashDr Hlela agrees that the JOHNSON’S® Two-Step Routine, to keep the skin barrier in the nappy area healthy, is the most effective way to keep your baby’s skin happy. The routine consists of:

  1. Cleansing at nappy change time, using the JOHNSON’S® Baby Wipes. These wipes are made with 100% cotton and 97% pure water and is free of alcohol, soap and essential oils.
  2. Protecting baby’s skin in the nappy area using an emollient such as the JOHNSON’S® Baby Jelly which spreads easily and contains nourishing oils to soften the skin. Dr Hlela says that because baby has no hair follicles, the petroleum jelly does not “smother” the skin, but rather acts as a barrier.

You guys, have you heard about JOHNSON’S® Baby’s baby barrier cream? The AVEENO® Baby Daily Care Baby Barrier Cream is unscented and suitable for newborns. It’s formulated with colloidal oatmeal to actively soothe and reduce the redness of dry, delicate baby skin.


  • Errolline

    Hey this is very interesting, but i must say i tried the petroleum jelly instead of the bum cream that i normally apply that has zinc and castor oil which is also a emollient and that same day her bum was red for the first time in her 3 month life. I’m sure its good but just not for my baby.

    • Luchae

      That is interesting to know! Thank you for telling us. I do think that every child’s skin reacts differently to different products. With Kari, I couldn’t use petroleum jelly too.

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