Monday Health & Wellness: How to Clear Diaper Rash Naturally

Chocolate Surprise?

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Diaper rash is a subject I get asked about a lot.

Why does it happen?  How do you clear it up?  What methods are safe for little skin…and with cloth diapers?

Diaper Rash: Why Does It Happen?

My oldest experienced nearly constant diaper rashes from 2 months old until she potty trained.  They were awful and nothing cleared them up.  In contrast, my third baby has had only a couple of minor diaper rashes that went away in a matter of hours.

There are a number of reasons why babies may experience diaper rash:

  • Too long between changings — Babies, especially smaller ones or those with sensitive skin, should be changed every 1 – 2 hours while they are awake.  Some may cry to be changed as soon as they are wet or soiled.  Sitting in it can eventually lead to redness and irritation.
  • Dehydration — Drinking too little water can cause urine to be more acidic, leading to redness, even if it doesn’t sit on the skin long.
  • Diarrhea — Acidic diarrhea can cause rashes quickly as well.  Diarrhea may be caused by illness or teething.
  • Allergy to diapers — Some babies do not handle the chemicals used to make disposable diapers and will get a rash.  Others are sensitive to synthetic fabrics in some cloth diapers.
  • Allergy to detergent — Some cloth-diapered babies get a rash if their diapers are not thoroughly rinsed and there is detergent build-up, or if they are sensitive to that particular type of detergent.  Some types seem more likely to cause a rash than others.
  • Food allergies — This was my daughter’s issue.  Food allergies cause both the urine and stool to be more acidic and this causes a rash very easily.  The offending food being in the system tends to keep it there and make it more difficult to heal, especially if parents have not yet discovered what the problem is.
  • Yeast — Some babies contract yeast infections that show up in the diaper area.  These can be difficult to combat especially with cloth diapers, because they can get into the fibers and keep re-infecting the baby.  Probiotics orally and topically, plus stripping cloth diapers are usually necessary.  Breastfeeding moms need probiotics too.

The occasional diaper rash from the top few reasons is normal.  It should be no more than a slight redness and should be easily cleared up within a few diaper changes.

Chronic, frequent diaper rashes are not normal.  They are a sign that there is a problem, likely due to one of the bottom few reasons.  Investigating the issue and trying out different diapers, detergents, or removing foods from the diet can help solve the problem.  With chronic diaper rashes, the most important thing to do is to find the underlying cause.  No topical treatments will keep this type of rash at bay for long.

Treating Diaper Rash

If your baby’s diaper rash is chronic/frequent, see above.  You must address the underlying cause in order to solve the diaper rash issue.  Try different types of diapers, detergents, or look for food allergies.  Even if you are exclusively breastfeeding, baby could be reacting to something through your milk.  I cannot stress enough how much it is not normal for babies to have chronic diaper rash!

For the occasional, minor rash that crops up, though, there are several ways to handle it.

Traditional Diaper Rash Cream

I can’t recommend any mainstream brand out there.  However, you can get or make a cream containing zinc oxide from Burt’s Bees or another natural company.  Here’s a recipe for making your own.  The zinc oxide forms a barrier between the skin and the diaper to keep it clear of the urine and stool so it can heal.  This is the most common method but not my favorite — in fact I never use it anymore.

Healing Diaper Rash Cream

There are several diaper rash creams now that are intended for actually healing the skin, instead of just providing a barrier.  I have a recipe on here to make your own.  Or, Earth Mama Angel Baby makes a good one.  Many moms simply use coconut oil.  This type of cream is great because it soothes the skin and helps it heal from inflammation, plus coconut oil can combat yeast naturally.  Cloth diaper users should put a fleece liner in the diaper, although these creams should be safe with cloth anyway.  (It’s just easier to clean with a liner!)

Naked Time

A lot of times, rashes benefit from having air circulating around them.  The best way to do this is to simply keep the baby’s diaper off as much as possible.  Keep prefolds around just in case!  Some babies really like to “go” while naked!

Powder

Some rashes simply need to be kept dry.  When naked time isn’t an option, powder may be.  I like the powder by Redmond Trading Company that is simply clay.  It is perfectly safe for skin or even to ingest so there are no worries with babies.  Arrowroot powder is safe to use too.  I would skip cornstarch, which can cause allergies in some babies, and talc, which most parents know is not good for babies.

I have not yet met a rash that couldn’t be helped by using one or more of the above solutions.  Many other solutions exist but are not especially safe or natural.

Preventing Diaper Rash

Naked time!

That is, for baby. :)

When possible, keep baby out of a diaper.  For babies with sensitive skin, a prefold with a fleece liner and a wool cover can be the most breathable, natural solution.  Changing baby frequently helps, and offering water once baby is old enough to eat food.  Offering drinks to older babies (not exclusively breastfed ones) is especially important during hot weather or illnesses.

In general, diaper rashes happen.  But not too often.  At least until potty training, which is another subject entirely!  (Anyone want to hear how I trained my older two?  It was very different between kids.)

How do you clear diaper rashes naturally?

Comments

  1. Leah says

    i have never purchased a diaper cream before but i swear by coconut oil. my older child only got a mild rash if she was sensitive to a food. my youngest has been a nightmare despite the GAPS protocol. I swear she is a yeast baby. I dont know what i did wrong since i was and had been on a healthful diet and probiotics before and after her birth which was at home like the first one… anyways. i like to mix probiotics and coconut oil and rub that on the diaper area and that clears it up within a day or so.

    • Amy says

      Leah – how much probiotics are you using in your CO? I just mixed some up and used one of my capsules (40-60 billion I believe) and a Tsp of an infant/toddler probiotics powder. I hope that is enough! Im desperate to get rid of my LO’s yeast, hers in internal as well an extnernal from the antibitoics I was given following an unplanned c-section.

  2. ~Kate F. says

    I’m curious about how the ACV would work if the extra acidity of the urine or stool was the cause of the rash?

  3. Katie says

    This is going to sound like a dumb question…but for a fleece liner, do you mean just like the polar fleece you use to make little tie-blankets or whatever, or is there some other kind of fleece you would use? And do you just lay it on the diaper between the diaper and the baby’s skin?

    Our first is due soon and I was wondering how to combat diaper rash while cloth diapering, since I know you can’t use zinc oxide pastes with the cloth diapers. Yay for coconut oil, that stuff is good for EVERYTHING! ^_^

  4. Kathleen K says

    We used to use expressed breast milk. Just rub it on the bum at each diaper change. Coconut oil is also rather soothing. I’m leery of ACV. Wouldn’t it burn/sting some of the more tender skin?

  5. says

    We exclusively use cotton prefolds and best bottom covers. I have found that I need to strip all of our diaper paraphernalia (covers, diapers and wipes) once a month. This his greatly reduced my son’s rashes. I simply soak all the diaper stuff overnight in the washer in hot water with 1/8 c. of Calgon water softener, then do my usual wash routine in the morning.

  6. AineMistig says

    What seems to help my current baby the most, especially when he has a bad rash, is naked time followed by an oatmeal & baking soda soaking bath, then cream in diaper (whichever you use). Gone by morning every time!

  7. says

    In response to all the comments about ACV: apple cider vinegar actually balances the ph of the skin so if acidity is the problem, I would think it’d help (I use it as a facial toner) but it will burn if not diluted. I would suggest a 1:5 ratio of ACV to water and maybe add a few drops of lavender essential oil to soothe irate skin. You could also steep the ACV in calendula overnight before diluting to promote healing and reduce itchyness.

    Disclaimer: I have no children and have never used ACV to treat diaper rash, these are just things that I know based off of making my own beauty products and doing tons of research.

  8. Denise says

    Ok i tried to make the homemade cream and its separating just want to know is this right or did i make it wrong what should i do. Do i just drain the water?

  9. Randi says

    We are going through this now! Just found out our fourth has a sensitivity to tomatoes and has given him acidic poop. I’ve been putting coconut oil on it but I have found that if you put too much in the diaper (we use disposables) it will make the inside of the diaper desentigrate after awhile.

  10. says

    Diaper rash problem is normal in children. we are in Ecological Diapers business. We provide potential solution for rashes problem in children. use our product and make children free from rashes. you can visit us online

  11. says

    that is common phenomenon everbody do but it is not enough to protect child from Diaper rash. We need to use Ecological diapers for children to protect them from rash
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