My poor girl has been in a bad way. For nine months we’ve managed to avoid the dreaded diaper rash. Then all of a sudden, BAM! Nastiest bum I’ve ever seen. It’s been an intense week trying to combat that sucker, but we’ve finally got it on the mend. I learned a lot about those pesky rashes along the way, so I thought I’d share.
Diaper rashes are part and parcel of being a baby. It’s fairly inevitable that in those damp, dark, funky places baby’s delicate skin will get a little funky itself. There are acids and bacteria in urine and feces that can really irritate the sensitive skin they come in contact with. Coraline had a particularly awful yeast diaper rash, which happens when yeast invades the skin and produces large, raw red patches surrounded by teeny tiny little blisters. The rate at which this thing spread was unbelievable — one minute it looked like a blush thumbprint, the next her whole hiney looked like a red and white leopard. Luckily there are a number of safe, easy, (and in my experience) effective home remedies to try before you go to over-the-counter or prescription treatments. Here’s a few helpful tips on all things diaper rash, from possible causes to ways fight the funk:
Diaper rashes can often be caused by food allergies. If baby has a telltale red ring around the anus and seems to be having some digestive discomfort it may be something they’ve eaten, or if you’re breastfeeding, something you’ve eaten. If baby is eating solids, make sure you only introduce one new food at a time and give them at least three days before trying the next new thing so you can easily identify adverse reactions. Dairy, soy, corn, eggs, wheat, and nuts are common allergens. If baby is still exclusively breastfed, you may need to start cutting those things out of your diet, one at a time, until you find the culprit. If baby is formula fed, they may need a different formula.
If you cloth diaper and use some sort of live enzyme (like Bac-Out) to soak or wash the diapers, the rash may be the result of not thoroughly rinsing. If the diaper still has a concentration of the live enzyme solution in it, they can essentially attack baby’s skin. So try stripping your diapers — run them through a regular wash cycle and then do three or four hot rinses. If your washer water doesn’t get hot enough, add boiling water from the kettle. By third or fourth rinse, the water should be completely devoid of bubbles.
Unfortunately, many diaper rash creams aren’t compatible with cloth diapers. Since they’re designed to act as a moisture barrier, they can adversely affect the absorbency of the cloth. So, if you need to use some cream, you may want to try gDiapers or chlorine-free disposables. Weleda Calendula Diaper Care Crème is fantastic — calendula has remarkable soothing capabilities, particularly for chaffed skin. And though the name is a little odd, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste is good stuff. I’ve heard more than a few more experienced mamas say it was the only thing that worked on severe rashes.
If you don’t cloth diaper and baby is getting a rash, try cloth diapers! Cloth diapered babies tend to get fewer rashes — why exactly is arguable. It could just be because they’re changed more frequently. Could be because the diapers are softer and so less likely to chafe. Or it could be because they are free of the chemicals and super absorbent polymers in conventional disposables, which may irritate baby’s delicate bottom. You may find that just some time out of disposables does the trick.
Air out that fanny! Lay out some clean towels (or a big blanket if baby is mobile) and let baby hang out sans pantalones. If you can, stick them butt up in a sunny window, especially if they have a yeast rash. The fresh air and sunshine is very helpful in not only drying out the rash but in killing the antagonistic yeast or bacteria that thrive in dark, damp places. For the same reasons, make sure you’re changing baby’s diaper frequently; and it can’t hurt to put it on looser than usual, to let some air in (though it may let some other stuff out).
Even if you use wipes designed for sensitive skin, it’s better to use a washcloth and plain old water on a rashy butt. And pat, don’t wipe. Ouch!
If you’ve tried everything you can think of and the rash still isn’t better in 3-4 days, it’s likely a yeast rash. Dilute one tablespoon of vinegar with 1 cup of water and blot baby’s clean bottom. Vinegar kills yeast. Or slather their tush with plain (sugar-free) yogurt which will contain live active cultures to counter the yeast. Make sure you dry baby off thoroughly before re-diapering.
If you’re still breastfeeding and baby has a yeast rash, you want to watch your sugar and yeast consumption (bread, fruit, and all that jazz). It’s helpful for you and baby both to take an acidophilus supplement which can help rebalance your GI tracts. Nature’s Way makes a powdered Primadophilus supplement safe for babies. Just mix a half-teaspoon with some food or breast milk.
It took just two days of vinegar and acidophilus to clear up Coraline’s nasty rash. Next stop was the doctor. Use your discretion — if you think something serious is going on, seek professional advice. I am not a professional, just a mom.
Not sure what exactly is causing the flame on your baby’s tush? Check out Dr. Sears’ helpful reference on the many kinds of rashes and specific treatment protocols here.