Hey Laura, what can I do about diaper rash?

Beth writes:

What do I do about the diaper rash on my baby’s bum?  I’ve heard the zinc oxide creams will leave ugly stains on my cloth diapers plus buildup, so what do you recommend?  I’m not sure why he’s got the rash—I change the diapers frequently and it doesn’t look like a yeast infection.  Plus, it doesn’t seem to matter if I use cloth or disposable diapers.  I guess he’s just got a deep butt crack (sounds horrible!) and it’s a challenge to keep dry.  I’m trying to air it out whenever I change him, but obviously I don’t want to wait around in the middle of the night too often.  Anyway, just wondered if you had a cream that might work.

Diaper rash is par for the course in just about any baby’s life. When you combine a warm, wet environment with chafing from either a disposable or cloth diaper, it’s inevitable that things will get a little red now and then! There’s a broad spectrum of diaper rashes, however, with some being a lot more serious than others (like yeast, as you mentioned). If you have ruled out yeast, most likely it’s just a plain old contact irritant dermititis and can be easily treated with extra diapering care and the application of soothing barrier creams.


Rule out other factors
What kind of cloth diapers are you using? Some babies are sensitive to synthetic materials (like the suedecloth and microfleece that many diapers use for a stay-dry inner), while others can handle the non-wicking element of natural fibers! Also, make sure you are not putting microfiber directly against baby’s bottom; that can cause severe irritation!

Also, what about your wipes? Are you using disposable wipes? They’ve got a lot of chemicals that can irritate baby bums. If you use cloth wipes, what type of solution are you using? Try switching to plain water and a soft flannel wipe for a couple days and see if that improves things. Always make sure you use a soft dry wipe or cloth to fully dry your baby’s bottom before adding any creams or putting the diaper back on!

Food sensitivities (ie: the food proteins that are passing through mama’s breastmilk, or present in the formula) can also contribute to rash flareups. It’s pretty simple to play around with your diet as a breastfeeding mom (note I said simple, not necessarily easy or fun!). I always recommend cutting out dairy as a first step when anything abnormal is going on with a baby. Persistant irritation in the diaper area can be one indicator of a food sensitivity.

PinstripesAndPolkadots.com has a nice article for ruling out reasons for diaper rash and Dr. Sears has a lengthy discussion on types of rash and how to treat them.

If you have a very strong stomach, head on over to DermAtlas.org’s pictures of various diaper rashes. I’m warning you, it’s pretty gnarly over there!


Laura-recommended rash treatment and prevention
Thankfully, I don’t have a terribly rash-prone baby, but I did just combat a little rash this week with excellent results. Here’s what I did.

- More frequent changes. I don’t typically change a diaper after every single pee, but I certainly made sure I wasn’t leaving her bottom in a soggy environment.

- Lots of airing out. During the day, I left the diaper off as often as possible. BabyLegs are fantastic for facilitating bare bottoms without a freezing cold naked baby on your floor.

- Plain water on the cloth wipes. I make my own wipe solution, but I didn’t want to add anything to the rash equation. I also made sure to dry her bottom carefully (getting all those creases super dry) with another wipe. I like my Thirsties Fab Wipes and Fuzzi Bunz Double Sided Wonder Wipes. The Fuzzi Bunz wipes are ordinarily too expensive, in my opinion, but I bought mine last year on mega sale.

- Liberal use of the following (totally cloth diaper safe) diaper creams: I used CJ’s BUTTer after the rash initially appeared. CJ’s is a fantastic healing cream. I only have a sample of it, but I am really impressed with how fast it took care of the red, angry welts on my baby’s bottom. When I wasn’t using CJ’s BUTTer, I gave her a few swipes of the delicious-smelling, super effective barrier cream from GroVia called Magic Stick. I love the deodorant-style application tube; when I’m in a hurry, I don’t want to have to dig diaper cream out from under my fingernails! At night, I slathered a thick layer of Zoe Organics’ Diaper Balm all over her diaper area to seal out the wetness.


Other ideas
People with rashy babies have other suggestions (and maybe our readers can chime in!). Baking soda sitz baths can be very soothing to blistered bottoms. As long as you know for sure you’re not dealing with a yeasty rash, using corn starch can help things from getting swampy down there. (Be warned: if it is yeast, then you’re feeding the monster - no bueno!) If you want to play it safe with a powder, check out Claymazing - a talc and starch free powder made from naturally healing Pascalite and Kaolin clays.

Good luck to you and your baby’s bottom, Beth!

Hey Laura, I think... Hey Laura, what can I do about diaper rash?

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