For a loving parent or guardian, seeing a rash on their child’s bottom is upsetting simply because of the obvious discomfort it causes. But what is diaper rash? Diaper rash occurs on the skin under the diaper and usually happens at the age of 2 years and younger, or as long as they are wearing diapers. If not treated, the result can become severe and even result in a yeast infection.
Diaper dermatitis is referred to the inflammation in outer layers of the skin in the perineal area, lower abdomen and inner thighs. The lesions are flat, discolored spots on the skin and are usually itchy, which may cause bacterial or candida infection. This can also affect the penis or vaginal area leading to urinary infection and further discomfort, irritability and restlessness for your baby.
While it’s most common in infants, adults that are unable to take care of themselves or that may require wearing adult diapers can also get diaper rash. As annoying as a diaper rash can be, not to mention the discomfort it causes your little one, it can be easily treatable, and even preventable, in most cases.
What Causes Diaper Rash?
A diaper rash or a yeast rash can be caused by infrequent diaper changes, diarrhea and sudden changes in diet, such as solid foods as well as the foods that mom eats, especially if breastfeeding. Antibiotics, an illness, friction caused by a diaper that is too tight or a constant rubbing of some sort often seen when a baby is between sizes, laundry detergents, bacterial or yeast infections, allergies and other sensitivities to disposable diapers are other common causes of diaper rash.
In particular, when urine and fecal matter are pressed against the skin, the bacteria can break down the skin’s protective barrier, which is where the rash often starts. The rash can occur because of a lot of sitting or lying in bed, especially if a diaper is soiled and left unchanged for long periods of time. Diaper rash often occurs due to the acidity changes in bowel movements as infants begin eating solid food. This is around the age 9–12 months and when babies are sitting most of the time.
Another name for diaper rash is diaper (napkin) dermatitis and is one of the most common “dermatologic diseases” in infants and children. In the past, diaper rash and diaper irritations have been thought to be caused by ammonia, but studies now indicate that there are many reasons a diaper rash may occur.
If you leave the diaper rash untreated, it can progress to a yeast infection because yeast loves the warm, moist and dark environment that a diaper easily provides. A study was conducted that showed that the highest incidence of diaper rash, in over 1200 infants, was found in those that wore cloth diapers. If using cloth diapers, you may need to change the diapers more frequently and make sure to use a very mild detergent. (1)
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6 Natural Treatments for Diaper Rash
1. Magnesium Oil
It’s common to apply topical ointments such as steroids but they can cause problems for ultra-sensitive skin. Magnesium oil, known for its anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, may be able to help heal diaper rash quickly. In a clinical trial study in the Pediatric Ward of Hajar Hospital, 64 children less than two years of age with diaper dermatitis were treated with the combined cream magnesium 2% and calendula or with Calendula cream alone. The study found that the magnesium cream was very effective for treatment of diaper dermatitis. (2)
2. Change that Diaper More Often!
The biggest cause of diaper rash is leaving a dirty diaper, wet or poopy, on the baby for too long! It’s common to have to change a diaper 8–10 times a day, but no need to count. Just do it as needed by paying attention. If left untreated, Candida and bacterial infections can make things worse, even causing psoriasis and the other diseases. It’s critical that your baby is kept clean by keeping the diaper area dry through frequent diaper changes. (3)
3. Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay has been well known for clearing the skin from acne because of its ability to remove toxins and impurities, but it can also help heal the baby’s diaper rash. According to a recent study, a shampoo made of clay was found to heal 93.3 percent of the lesions from diaper rash within the first six hours. (4)
Bentonite clay is a type of rock formed from volcanic ash. It’s highly absorbent, and when it becomes saturated with liquid, it develops a mild electrical charge that helps draw out toxins, heavy metals and other impurities away from skin tissue, ultimately helping to control moisture and fight bacteria that could make the diaper rash worse.
Try mixing a small amount of bentonite clay with water until it forms a paste. Then, spread on the baby’s bottom and allow it to dry. This may be your biggest challenge since babies usually don’t sit still for very long. Perhaps this is a good time for a little storybook reading or a standing activity! It usually dries within about 10–15 minutes. Once dry, remove with warm water.
4. DIY Diaper Cream
Making your own diaper rash cream is easy and is also really important to the health of your baby! While it’s easy to pick up products like Desitin and Boudreaux’s Butt Paste as a diaper rash treatment, many diaper rash creams and ointments contain chemical-containing emulsifiers that can enter the body through the skin.
Instead, make up your own DIY diaper cream with shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax and calendula, among other skin-improving ingredients. Shea butter is the perfect ingredient for diaper rash ointment since it’s antifungal and anti-inflammatory, which helps fight off yeast. And calendula contains anti-inflammatory linoleic acid, which helps reduce further irritation from diaper rash as well as possibly preventing it in the first place.
5. Avoid Baby Wipes
While it seems that the baby wipe is the perfect go-to tool for just about anything, baby wipes actually contain some ingredients that can irritate the skin. The typical baby wipe contains ingredients like parabens, which are known as endocrine disruptors, propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, phthalates for fragrance and other chemicals as well as possible carcinogens, like formaldehyde, that can be obtained through the manufacturing process.
Additionally, our environment is negatively affected by the use of these chemical-laden wipes. Using a soft washcloth or paper towel with water may work just as well, preventing additional irritation. Then, make sure to allow your baby’s bottom to dry before putting another diaper on him or her. This can help prevent bacteria-causing moisture and, therefore, diaper rash. There are some safer versions out there and you can even make your own! (5)
6. Give Your Baby the Right Foods
Often times, diarrhea is the cause of diaper rash and irritations. If that is the case, you need to stop the diarrhea as soon as possible. Have you heard of the BRAT diet? Bread, rice, applesauce and toast (BRAT) are common foods that can help rid your baby of the uncomfortable diaper-rash causing diarrhea.
Of course, it depends on the age of the infant in terms of what they can eat and you may have to soften the foods accordingly so that it is safe and easy to eat. Toddlers can eat more solid foods such as pasta, chopped up soft-boiled eggs, plain probiotic-containing yogurt and fermented whole grains. Because starch adds bulk to the stool, it is a great choice and easy to digest. Keep in mind that fats and sugars, even those from and fruit juices, can make the problem worse. (6)
Precautions to Take
While there are some simple ways to protect your baby and help your baby heal quickly, pay close attention to anything you put on your baby. If it seems to worsen the problem in any way, discontinue use and check with your doctor.
It is common for many parents like to use baby powder in an effort to reduce moisture in the diaper area of the baby, but it’s important to know that cornstarch can worsen the problem if it is a yeast diaper rash. If you use a powder, avoid talcum. Also, be careful as you pour the powder into your hands. Make sure you are away from your baby’s face to avoid getting the powder in your baby’s eyes or him or her breathing it in through the mouth or nose. Turn off any fans that may be blowing air in the room while applying. (7)
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