Ask: What to do about diaper rash?

Posted by Pam Diamond on January 22, 2013 

Pam Diamond offers advice on what do to when diaper rash strikes and how to keep it from coming back.

Q. My six-month-old seems to have diaper rash almost constantly. How can we treat it when it's here, and how can we keep it from coming back?

A. There are few things as lovely as soft, creamy newborn baby skin. That is, until your baby has diaper rash.

Babies typically get diaper rashes from being wet. Let’s face it, it’s a moist, dark environment inside that diaper. Then, consider that the moisture is from urine, which when mixed with stools breaks down to form ammonia. It’s easy to see how rashes can develop. And many babies have sensitive skin, so even hyper-diligent diaper changers may see rashes pop up now and then.

Not all rashes are created equal, either. Some rashes may be caused by chafing, especially if baby is sensitive to the chemicals in the diapers, wipes, laundry detergent or soaps and lotions being used. Other rashes may be caused by new foods in the diet. And, some are actually infections – bacterial or yeast – since again, the environment is perfect for the growth of either of these.

So what’s a parent to do? Of course, you’ll want to change diapers frequently, and always change diapers dirty with BMs right away. Consider using chemical-free wipes or making your own. Most of my cloth diapering clients use small squares of soft, washable fabric for the wipe and keep a squeeze bottle with water and a few drops of tea tree oil mixed in on hand to moisten them. Cotton balls will work, too.

Always pat, don’t scrub, a rashy bottom. And be careful not to over-tighten the diaper or have baby in a diaper that’s too small.

Also, consider changing brands of diapers or switching to cloth. My anecdotal evidence has shown much less diaper rash in babies who wear cloth. Maybe it’s because they are changed more frequently, or maybe because there are fewer chemicals – who knows. But it’s worth considering.

Ointments may be necessary to help heal a rash, and if baby is getting rashes often, you might want to use ointments preventatively as a moisture barrier. Zinc oxide and petroleum jelly are the most common ingredients in diaper rash ointments. Now parents can readily find all-natural products, too, with ingredients like evoo, yarrow, calendula and myrrh. If you suspect a yeast rash, consider using pure coconut oil. (Don’t hesitate to see your pediatrician if a rash persists.)

Good hygiene goes a long way. Let baby soak in warm water at bath time, and make sure to get into the folds of the skin when washing. Use gentle soaps and soft, soft cloths to clean the area.

One of my favorite things to recommend for all babies (rash or no rash) is air-out time, either after a bath or otherwise. Yep, let those little bottoms see the light of day. Spread out a blanket or towel and allow baby to play naked for a spell. A little sunshine on the bum wouldn’t hurt either.

If you have a question about your child's health or happiness, ask Pam or any of our experts by sending email to mom2mom@newsobserver.com.


Pam Diamond is a parent coach, postpartum doula, baby sleep consultant and owner of First Daze & Nightzzz, LLC. Pam’s goal is to help parents and babies get off to the best possible start. She helps families fix what’s not working and enjoy what is. She lives in Cary with her husband and two teenage children. You can learn more about Pam on her website: First Daze & Nightzzz, or email her at pdiamond@firstdaze.com.

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