Thursday, April 19, 2012

dealing with diaper rash

I remember the first time E had a diaper rash. She was 3 months old and we were out of town visiting relatives. Of course the diaper cream was left at home, forgotten, so we had to make an emergency trip to the store. I've learned a good bit since then and thought I would share it here.

There are a few different types of diaper rashes. I have experience with three of those so I am going to stick with what I know. I am not a medical professional...this what has worked for us. I trust you will use your own best judgement.

Good Old Fashioned Diaper Rash (a.k.a. Chafing Dermatitis)
the Desatin website shows photos of various degrees of diaper rash here

This is the most common form of diaper rash. It's caused mostly by the friction of the diaper rubbing against the skin and of course the moisture doesn't help. 

There are plenty of diaper creams to choose from. I have had the most success from Burt's Bees Diaper Ointment. I love this stuff. It works great for all three of my children and I feel pretty comfortable with the ingredient list. The only negative (for some) is that it has a strong rosemary smell. I am pretty sensitive to fragrances but have no problem with this as it is not a chemical smell. Burt's Bees does make a fragrance free version but I have not used it so I can not comment on the effectiveness.

I should note that you are not supposed to use diaper creams with cloth diapers as it can damage your diapers. In the past I have used disposables during rashy periods so I don't have to worry about my diapers. Disposables also tend to wick the moisture away better which can help. However keep in mind that using cloth diapers lessens your chances for chaffing dermatitis in the first place (as long as you change them regularly). 
I have been told that you can use coconut oil as diaper cream with cloth diapers but I have not had success with it. If anything it prolonged the rash because I did not treat it with diaper cream sooner.

Another treatment that I always use is oatmeal baths. Simply put some oatmeal in a sock, tie a knot in it, and throw it in the warm tub to steep.During those baths I skip the soap and just let the baby play.

Other things that help are:
 skipping baby wipes and just using a soft cloth and some warm water
allowing baby diaper free time to air out the rash
more frequent diaper changes

Chafing dermatitis usually clears up in a 3-4 days with home treatment. Be sure to contact your pediatrician if it is severe, doesn't change with treatment, or gets worse. Puss,discharge, bleeding, blisters, boils, bright red patches with scalloped edges, and fever also warrant a call to your ped. As always when dealing with your little one's health it's better to be safe than sorry.

Yeast Rash / Infection (a.k.a. Candidal Dermatitis)
there are some photos here of what a yeast rash can look like. these examples are pretty extreme so just know that before you click.

Yeast infections are pretty stubborn rashes in my experience. They can happen just as frequently to boys as to girls. Antibiotics are notorious for causing yeast issues but there are many causes. 

First of all whenever one of my children is taking an antibiotic I always give them a probiotic also. A high quality probiotic is also a really good idea if yeast is an issue.

Now that I have experience with this kind of rash and can identify it quite easily I usually treat it without the use of antifungal cream. If you go to the doctor that is what they will likely prescribe. Dr. Sears recommends Clotimazole which is over the counter. If the rash is more than just a few spots you may just want to start here.

When treating my children's yeast rashes I apply plain yogurt (it must contain active bacteria and no sugar. all of that will be listed on the label) or coconut oil (I do like coconut oil for yeast rashes. Here is why.) topically to the rash for as many diaper changes as possible. I have even heard about adding a couple of drops of tea tree oil to the coconut oil for treating yeast. I plan on trying that next time.

I also use a bath for treating yeast rashes. I put 1 cup of apple cider vinegar ( I have also used white vinegar in a pinch) in a full bath tub and let baby soak. Soap is not good for yeast and can actually make it worse.

Usually those two steps are enough to get rid of a yeast rash on my children if I am patient and diligent.

If you have cloth diapers now would be a good time to boil or strip them as to keep from re-infecting.

Rash from an allergy (or Atopic Dermatitis)

My daughter had rash that I just could not get rid of and we ended up at her pediatrician. The ped looked at it, said it was okay and to come back if it didn't go away in a week and we would test for allergies. In the time between visits I did my research and tried my best to figure out what would be causing this rash. The only thing that had changed in her diet really was that she was eating massive amounts of clementines. So I looked up allergy to citrus and found that while this was not one of the most common allergies it did happen. And I read about quite a few kids who would get rashes from it.

So of course apon returning to our ped I told her that I though it was the clementines. And do you know what she did? She basically told me I was crazy. Not in so many words of course but she thought that would be very rare and she highly doubted that was the case. E's allergy test came back all negative. Our (ahem) lovely ped prescribed three different types of steroids to give her. (One oral and two topical...ridiculous) We ended up using a little of one of the topical steroids and stopped buying clementines. The rash went away and I forgot about it. That is until clementine season came back around, she ate lots, and her rash came back.

I can't tell you what could cause atopic dermatitis for your child. But I can tell you to trust your gut. As a parent you will know your child better than any pediatrician ever will. And never stay with a medical provider who does not respect you as a parent.


  1. I find your posts very helpful, thank you for posting about alternative ways to treat common baby problems. I have also heard that lavender essential oils (the purest kind, not from the health store, those tend to have other things in them besides just the oil) applied to the rash clears it up too. My little honey hasn't had any rash so far, but I will try it if he ever does.

    1. thank you! :-) the lavender essential oil sounds like a fabulous idea!

  2. My favorite diaper cream, well the only diaper cream, I use is Burt's Bees. Adele has had some rashes due to me consuming dairy when she was younger, and Burt's Bees cleared it up after one day every single time. Otherwise, if it's not too bad, I use coconut oil and it seems to work really well. :)