Welcome to POOP 101, otherwise known as The Secrets of Healing Diaper Rash. That red, hot, often broken skin is terrible to see on a baby’s bum. Unfortunately, the combination of bacteria, friction, moisture and heat all pressed against baby’s bum in a leak proof package creates the perfect breeding ground for a nasty rash. Sensitive skin makes it even worse. Yet, there are natural remedies for diaper rash and they’re easier than you think.
We all know about diaper cream but what’s the alternative? I’ve learned a lot since I first started diapering babies.
First, there is an alternative to diapering with cloth or paper.
In many parts of the world, moms train their babies from birth to eliminate on cue into a toilet instead of in their “unders”. And while teaching babies to eliminate on cue isn’t ‘potty training’, it does keep your baby from learning to defecate in their pants. Instead of changing a dirty diaper, you simply catch the mess in advance. It saves money on diapers and makes it less likely that your baby will get diaper rash. I don’t do it all the time but I have done it and it works! If you’re interested, check out http://www.diaperfreebaby.org
We’ve used cloth and paper diapers and contrary to popular belief, diapering with either can cause rashes.
Problems with cloth diapers include – friction, heat, soap retention & detergents containing enzymes.
Problems with paper diapers can include friction, too drying (wicking material!) and material/chemical sensitivity. Some contain latex. We never even thought about this with our latex sensitive, eldest child. She had a lot of rashes as a baby. Boy, was I upset to learn this after the fact!
I’ve learned, the sooner I address a diaper rash, the better.
There are times diaper rashes are more likely to happen. When I pay attention, I can head the rash off before it starts.
Things that make diaper rashes more likely include anything that increases heat or friction or changes the frequency and ph of poop – such as…
Gastroenteritis. Nothing like frequent diarrhea to make a little baby’s bum raw and miserable.
Teething – all that drool that babies create while teething contributes to more frequent stools. You’ll learn to recognize this. It’s not diarrhea but it’s looser than regular poop and has a kind of “sandy” texture to it.
Summer – In our experience, summer heat speeds up the progression of a rash.
So here are the steps I take as soon as I see that bum looking slightly pink or raw.
Take action immediately.
Every moment counts. Ok – lil’ bit dramatic but it’s real. Diaper rashes can go from bad to worse quickly when ignored. Instead of a slightly pink bum, they can become a stubborn yeast rash or, worst case, a staph infection. Trust me, it’s easier to kick it as soon at “slightly pink”.
Lose the wipes and rinse with water
Yep. You heard me. Wipes contain soap and irritate sore skin. How would you like someone wiping soap all over a rash on your most tender spots? Do you know that the human race has survived for thousands of years without disposable wipes? I know. Crazy but true.
I gently wipe off any solid stuff and rinse with water. When we’re home, we rinse our baby’s behind in the sink, bathtub or with our diaper sprayer. Toddlers usually think this is hilarious. A gentle hand is the best tool for ensuring that a baby’s squishy bum is completely clean. Plus, it won’t irritate like a washcloth. And I carefully pat dry with a soft cloth. When we’re out in public, we take a water squirt bottle and some gentle cloth wipes with you. A cut up flannel baby blankie works great.
Moisturize the skin
Next, I apply coconut oil to the affect area. It’s healing, anti-fungal and moisturizing without being too oily.
But keep the yucky moisture away from the bum.
Gently pat some cornstarch or arrowroot powder on the rash
You can buy cornstarch in any supermarket and arrowroot is not hard to find in natural food stores. They’re both cheap and work well. This is best if the skin isn’t broken (it shouldn’t be if you take action immediately). It will dry the beginnings of the rash out – like a charm.
*A friend told me that she thinks cornstarch can feed a yeast rash so if a rash is thick, raised and red, I would go for the arrowroot instead.
“What???” You may be asking.
“What about Diaper cream?”
My mom and my mom’s mom used xyz cream for every diaper rash! They swear by it!”
Well, if that’s working for you, go for it.
I try not to use diaper creams for two reasons. First, it’s my experience that most of the time, diaper cream isn’t needed if you follow these first few steps right away. (Of course there are exceptions).
The other reason I don’t often use diaper cream is that diaper cream is often mineral oil based (it’s meant to keep moisture off the bootie) but it also traps moisture and bacteria if you haven’t carefully rinsed it and it can make things go from bad to worse fast.
Let my baby go au naturel ( especially in sunlight for some healing Vitamin D) for a while or loosely fasten a fresh diaper his bum.
Just put a towel under them to catch the drips. The idea is to let the air get to the sore spot and heal it. The faster it dries out, the less likely it is to develop into something serious.
Change the diaper as soon as it’s wet or soiled
I can’t emphasize this enough.
Bacteria + moisture + heat + friction = diaper rash
Hope this is helpful for you mamas dealing with diaper rash. If a baby’s rash has progressed past this first stage, I would still use these steps to speed healing.
Here’s to healthy little, rash free bums!
*this post is updated, thanks to the wisdom of friends and my own experience!
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