Monday, May 31, 2010

Tips on Diaper Rashes

I often get questions around diaper rashes so I thought I might take a few minutes tonight to discuss a few key points around this topic.

Persistent diaper rashes are often a reason why some people look into switching from disposable diapers to cloth diapers. It is not a secret that the super absorbent disposable diapers that are on the market these days contain many chemicals such as Dioxin, a by-product of the paper-bleaching process that has been linked to cancers, birth defects, liver damage and skin diseases as well as SAP (Sodium Acrylate Polymers) the gel inside the diaper that allows the fabric to absorb many ounces of liquid. SAP has also been linked to side effects, including allergic reactions such as skin irritations, and toxic shock syndrome.
(For more information on Sodium Acrylate Polymers click here).

Personally, my eldest son who has very sensitive skin and eczema could not wear a Pampers without his skin getting inflammed and red. Huggies seemed to be ok. Going towards cloth diapers seemed to be a better choice for us and obviously we have never looked back.

However there are many people who actually believe the opposite ... that cloth diapers will cause more skin rashes than disposable diapers. Fact or myth?

MYTH! Babies using cloth diapers have a tendency to have fewer diaper rashes then babies using disposable diapers. The fact is that most diaper rashes are actually caused by the baby being in a wet diaper for too long. Diaper rashes are usually caused by bacteria, ammonia or chemicals coming in contact with the baby’s skin. Babies in cloth diapers are usually changed more often resulting in less diaper rashes. Also, many of the new modern cloth diapers have a moiture wicking fabric that will help maintain the baby's skin dry such as microfleece or suedecloth. So whether you are using cloth or disposable diapers, the key to preventing rashes is to change your baby often and keep the skin as dry as possible.

What else can cause rashes? Detergent residue on cloth diapers that are not rinsed properly can irritate your baby's bottom so make sure you use a detergent free of any extra additives, that you don’t use too much detergent and that you rinse your diapers properly.

What about diaper ointments?
Frequent use of diaper ointments, lotions or Vaseline can lead to build-up onto your cloth diapers which can cause problems with absorbency and odors. Ointments containing zinc oxide and vaseline are the worse to cause build-up. The key to preventing rashes or skin irritations is to keep your baby’s skin dry. The best way to do this is to change your baby when he/she is wet. Using microfleece liners can also help to keep the skin dry. If you do need to use diaper ointments, lotions or Vaseline, we recommend using microfleece or silk liners in your cloth diapers to decrease the chances of these products getting onto your cloth diapers (disposable liners are usually too thin and the ointment will go through it) . If build-up becomes an issue, you will need to strip your cloth diapers.

There are some ointments/barrier cream that are considered cloth diaper safe and that can be used to prevent skin irritations without causing build-up on your diapers. Two that are available at Ottawa Cloth Diapers are Dimpleskins Bum Bum Balm Diapering Salve as well as Gro Via Magic Stick. These both contain 100% natural ingredients as well as no zinc or vaseline. A thin layer can be used at every diaper change that will act as a barrier between the wetness or stool against the skin.

What about rashes caused by yeast infection?
Candidal skin infections can get quite severe and can be very hard to get rid of. You should definitely contact your physician to confirm the presence of yeast and discuss the various treatment options. The key is usually to ensure that both Mom and baby are being treated as if you are breastfeeding, you are both sharing the microorganism. Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) that can be found in natural product stores is known to work well on candidal infections. It can be used on both the baby's bum and the mother's nipples.

What else can you do to treat rashes? The best think is to leave your baby bear bum as much as possible as the air/oxygen will leave the skin dry and promote healing. In my 12 years as a neonatal nurse I have seen many many bad bums and air drying or we even use 100% oxygen to the bum seems to be the best treatment over any medicated ointments or other products.

If you have any questions or have any information you would like to add to this discussion, I encourage you to leave a comment.

Good night!


  1. Good Morning Vicky,

    I know this post is a couple months old but I had to write to you and tell you this. For the past couple weeks my baby girl has had a horrible diaper rash that just didn't seem to go away. It didn't matter how often or quickly I would change her when she had a wet diaper it just wouldn't go away. So after countless hours of searching on-line for a natural remedy for her diaper rash that wouldn't cause build-up on the diapers themselves I finally just called my mom. When I asked her what she used to do for me when I was little, knowing I had been in cloth diapers myself due to extreamly sensitive skin, she said simply make a paste of baking soda and water and spread it on like you would an ointment. Now two days later the rash is already clearing up, she's still angry when getting her diaper changed but not as much, and she's on the road to recovery! But the best thing about this remedy, other than it has worked with my baby, is the fact that the baking soda rinses off the diapers completely in the wash and leaves little to no residue on them.

    So I just wanted to pass this on just incase you have anyone wondering if there was anything they could do about the horrible diaper rashes that can come along with the teething process. That is this is definitely used along with alowing lots of air at their little bums. Well have a great day and I hope this helps someone along the way!!

  2. Thank you for your tip. I'm sure it will definetely help someone at some point. I will also keep it in mind for any customers struggling with diapers rashes.