First and foremost we always recommend consulting with your pediatrician, they are far more experienced and qualified to determine whether the rash requires any medical treatment or if it’s nothing to fret about.
Now, the good news for those who cloth diapers, rashes are a less common occurrence. Studies have shown approximately 5% of cloth diapered babies experience diaper rash issues as opposed to 50%+ amongst the disposable diapered babies.
Why such a drastic difference between the two?
Disposable diapers are made from plastics, not paper like many people mistakenly believe (even chlorine-free diapers are also made from plastic polymers). Plastic does not allow the skin to breathe properly and causes heat retention which can ultimately leads to rashes.
Additionally, some babies are very sensitive to the chemicals found in disposable diapers and are unable to wear them at all without developing severe blistering rashes. This is referred to as allergic contact dermatitis.
However, diaper rashes aren’t exclusive to the disposable diapering bunch. Rashes that occur with cloth diaper usage are typically either the result of prolonged wetness, sensitivity or reaction to detergent and/or bacterial residues on the diaper, or more rarely an allergic reaction to material/fabric itself.
Frequent diaper changes will generally resolve rash issues caused by prolonged wetness. It also helps to ensure baby is dry before putting another clean diaper on. Allow your children a few moments between changes to “air out.”
Some babies develop yeast rashes/infections due to continuous exposure to moisture/wetness, especially in their little nooks and crannies since yeast thrives in warm and moist areas. Therefore, it’s especially important to change baby regularly and ensure they are dry.
It’s important to note when battling a yeast rash/infection – the diapers do require disinfection. Otherwise, bacteria from the rash linger in the diapers and can ultimately re-infect your little one making the rash last for weeks and sometimes months on end!
Ways to disinfect your diapers
These are also helpful if you suspect a rash due to a buildup of bacteria as well…
Make sure you’re using hot water to wash your diapers (after your initial cold rinses of course). Hot water does help in killing a good majority of bacteria.
Depending on what type of diapers you’re using – you may consider using between ¼ – ½ cup vinegar in the main wash. The vinegar is acidic and works to kill most, if not all the bacteria.
Be one with the SUN! Sunning is an excellent way to rid your diapers of bacteria naturally. It also helps whiten, brighten and remove pesky stains from your diapers.
Adverse skin reactions are trickier to figure out since there are so many!
If there is detergent buildup on your diapers then it is likely a child will experience a reaction due to the buildup while other children may truly have a sensitivity to the particular detergent. I suggest washing the diapers several times in hot water with no detergents or additives to ensure the diapers are free from detergent residues and see if that doesn’t resolve the issue. If a true allergy to the detergent is suspected then it is recommended to discontinue use of the product.
There are other skin reactions such as eczema, psoriasis, or just plain friction which results in rashes. Although rare, some children develop a sensitivity or allergy to synthetic fabrics and well. Therefore, it’s really important to consulting with your pediatrician or family doctor as they have years of experience and seen the gamut of rashes to provide a proper diagnosis.
Diaper Creams, Medicated Ointments and Powders
If you thought your cloth diaper options were numerous – try checking out the number of diaper creams and ointments on the market! A large majority of diaper creams and ointments aren’t cloth diaper friendly. There are a few that are, and my personal favorite is Northern Essence Better Butt(er). One of you wonderful mamas asked me about it a couple weeks ago so I decided to order some and test it myself… this stuff is wonderful! It has a lovely whipped texture and goes on very easy! I noticed a comparable improvement in my son’s yeast rash overnight (on par with the prescription cream from the doctor).
Additionally, it has done wonders to soothe my poor hands which are affected terribly by eczema! My little guy scraped his chin raw the other day, I decided to rub some Northern Essence Better Butt(er) on it and the next day there was a noticeable improvement! I need to buy a vat of this stuff!
Even with the use of cloth diaper friendly creams or salves, I like to recommend the use of a protective barrier/liner just to be cautious. Disposable liners such as the Bummis Bio-Soft liners or washable/reusable liners such as Hemp Babies Raw Silk liners are wonderful products that I recommend. On a budget? Make your own liners by cutting up an old t-shirt or some very thin fleece.
I do not recommend the use of baby powder or corn starch. This is unnecessary and has been known to cause more problems than any possible good. Studies have shown babies do inhale the powder which can lead to respiratory problems. Additionally, baby powder is believed to be associated with the increase in Urinary Tract infections (UTI’s) and promotes yeast rashes (especially when using corn starch based baby powders).
NOTE: If you’re using medicated creams or ointments that aren’t cloth diaper friendly it’s important that you wash all wipes and liners separately from your diapers, otherwise the creams/ointment can be deposited onto the diapers during the wash cycle and cause repellency issues.
– By Serena