When Diaper Rash Strikes! The do’s and don’ts of diaper rash.

Diaper rash is a completely different experience from baby to baby. The only constant, is that at some point, every baby will have a diaper rash.

What is diaper rash?

When your baby’s diaper sits against their skin too long, their skin gets irritated and sore. Teething, diarrhea, antibiotic use and foods may also cause a rash. A diaper holds pee and poop against a baby’s most sensitive skin where it creates an ideal environment for bacteria, yeast, and fungus to grow.

To prevent diaper rash. Learn what your baby’s triggers are and avoid them.

Over time, you figure out how your baby’s bottom reacts with different kinds of salves, diapers and foods, and diaper rash is not as mysterious. You can mostly prevent it.

Check their diaper often, and change it as soon as possible, after it is soiled. Some babies will tell you when they are wet, if you pay attention to their cues.

Consider cloth diapering.

Cloth diapers have only cloth, and no chemicals. When you wash diapers, always wash them separately, in hot water, using the right amount of the detergent, recommended by the manufacturer. Don’t use bleach or fabric softener, as these can damage cloth diapers and irritate your baby’s bottom. Rinse them twice, or more if needed, to remove all soap residue. Washing diapers is not complicated, but there are some important guidelines to follow, because detergent and old urine are alkaline, and can cause a rash, if your diapers are not 100% clean.

Hang the diapers outside to take advantage of sunshine, a natural sanitizer. You can run them through the dryer for 5-10 minutes to soften them and remove lint before you hang them up. If you use a dryer, skip the dryer sheets, which contain chemicals that may irritate your baby’s skin, and make your diapers less absorbent.

Use skin products and laundry soaps that are baby-friendly.

Look for unscented and dye-free soaps, shampoos, creams, and ointments specifically designed for use on babies. Read labels – products labeled for babies often contain unnecessary chemicals. In the early weeks, wash your infant’s clothes, sleepwear, bedding, towels, and washcloths separately using a “Free and Clear” detergent, and rinsing twice, if needed. The rinse water should be “clear enough to drink” because residue of detergent, bleach, and fabric softener can cause irritation, when it’s touching your baby’s skin.

Don’t use commercial baby wipes.

Many brands of commercial baby wipes contain chemicals that can irritate skin. Water is all you need for most clean ups, and maybe a little mild soap. Soft washcloths and flannel wipes are the best, and most economical, for cleaning your baby’s bottom.

Don’t use baby powder.

In the past, it was common to keep a baby’s bottom dry by sprinkling talcum powder, or cornstarch, on their bottom to soak up moisture. Talcum powder has been shown to be dangerous to lungs and can cause ovarian cancer. Cornstarch and cornstarch-based powders can create a breeding ground for yeast.

Pay attention when you give your baby new foods.

Your baby’s digestion is still immature and foods can create diaper rash. In addition, you might also see other rashes like eczema, a “bull’s eye” around their anus, or a sandpaper rash, like tiny pimples, caused by certain foods. If you are breastfeeding, your baby could be sensitive to something you are eating. It’s not common, but one symptom is a persistent diaper rash.

If preventative measures don’t work.

Let your baby go bare-bottomed. Use “Elimination Communication,” or lay your baby on a towel and waterproof pad for short times throughout the day. When going diaper-free isn’t feasible, be very particular to keep your baby’s bottom clean and dry. You may want to skip the soap, or even washcloth, since it may sting. Simply rinse your baby’s bottom with warm water under a faucet.

When your baby has a rash, avoid tight-fitting diapers and clothing, which can restrict air flow, as well as chafe, raw and tender skin. You can temporarily switch to a larger-size diaper.

If you use disposables, try a different brand.

Some babies may be sensitive to materials, or substances, in one brand of disposable diaper, but not in another. And, once in a while, disposable diapers are actually recalled for causing chemical burns.

Try a nonprescription diaper-rash cream, salve, or ointment.

Look for products containing natural ingredients like beeswax, lanolin, almond oil, calendula, or zinc oxide. Herbal products that are commonly used to treat diaper rash are calendula and chamomile tinctures, and grapeseed extract. Try a commercially made salve first, to see what works best on your baby’s bottom. If you are curious, there are lots of how-to tutorials and recipes to make homemade diaper salve.

If your baby has a yeast or fungal rash, you can try using a bottom salve that has tea tree oil in it. Do not use this as an every day diaper salve, because it’s just not needed.

Steer clear of commercial ointments.

Ointments such as A & D and Desitin which are petroleum-based. They don’t allow skin to breathe, and can wreck your cloth diapers and stain your baby’s clothes. Don’t use any creams that contains camphor, phenol, methyl salicylate, benzoin tincture, or boric acid on your baby, unless specifically directed to by their pediatrician.

Be aware that companies and tutorials do not know your baby, and their tender skin. To see if your baby has a reaction, test every product on baby’s arm, or thigh, first.

The good news is that diaper rash usually clears up within a few days when you treat it.

Be sure to contact your baby’s doctor if:

  • The rash is severe, i.e., blisters, boils, pimples or ulcers
  • There is no improvement after five days of home treatment
  • It spreads beyond the diaper area
  • Your baby develops a fever along with the diaper rash
  • The rash weeps, oozes, or produces pus.

Diaper rash is no fun! Hopefully, these time-tested strategies will help keep your baby rash-free and comfortable!

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