Teething and nappy rash – is there a connection?

Once teething starts, many babies show an array of symptoms – drooling, gnawing, rubbing their face, swollen gums and being generally unsettled to name just a few. However, there is one symptom that has not only been a topic of many conversations between parents, but has also divided pediatricians around the world. The connection between teething and nappy rash is not completely clear, and doctors do have different theories about the correlation between the two.

What is nappy rash?

Nappy rash is very easy to recognise – you may spot red, shiny patches of skin in places where the skin is in direct contact with a wet nappy. The main culprit is damp skin which is susceptible to damage caused by rubbing and chaffing. Damaged skin presents an open doorway for bacteria, enzymes and other aggressive compounds that are normally found in urine and feces.

Does teething cause nappy rash?

As we’ve mentioned before, there is no Yes or No answer to this question. Some doctors believe that the process is very clear and it usually happens in this order: Teething, Diarrhea, Nappy rash

The teething process causes an excessive amount of drool, some of which will be swallowed by your little one. This large amount of drool in your baby’s tummy can upset the digestion and cause mild diarrhea, which further results in skin irritation and nappy rash. Even if your experience leads you to agree with this theory, there is one important thing to keep in mind – severe diarrhea, especially if followed by lethargy, vomiting or fever higher than 102°F or 38.9°C, should be a reason to see a physician urgently, since these are not side effects of teething, but rather symptoms of something else troubling your little one.

Even though many parents have noticed the same sequence in their children (teething, then diarrhea and nappy rash), some experts disagree with this theory. They claim that diarrhea and nappy rash are not caused by teething, but some other factors, such as changes in diet (eating solids or drinking a lot of fruit juices), using antibiotics, yeast or bacterial infection, irritation caused by a new product or prolonged exposure to feces or urine. A possible explanation lies in the babies' urge to chew: by chewing on household items and unsanitised materials, the baby might be ingesting germs which could lead to a mild diarrhea. Because diarrhea is moist and acidic it can be stressful to the skin which could give rise to nappy rash. Keep in mind that diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration in babies.

How to treat nappy rash?

Usually, the rash goes away after a day or two even without special treatments, but there are things you could do to relieve your baby from discomfort. These include air-drying the area as much as possible, changing your baby’s nappy as soon as it’s soiled, washing the baby with warm water instead of using wet wipes, and applying protective barrier creams.