Diaper rash is a common concern that can be very uncomfortable for both babe and caregiver. The rash appears when the area covered by a diaper becomes inflamed. The skin can be very red and raw and may even crack and bleed.
There are several reasons why a baby gets diaper rash including:
– Reaction to wipes, diapers, or creams
– Irritation of sensitive skin by diapers, urine, or stool
– Food sensitivities
– Yeast and bacterial infections (usually as a complication of diaper rash)
Less is more: One thing that I often recommend when it comes to baby’s skin is to follow the guideline that “less is more”. Often, all that a baby needs is warm water to clean the skin. I rarely add anything to bath water and use warm facecloths when changing bums. Many baby wipes and bath products (even “baby safe” and “hypoallergenic” options) have chemicals and perfumes that can be irritating to baby’s new and sensitive skin. If necessary, consider using a couple of drops of a scent free castile soap (such as Dr. Bronner’s).
Change wet and dirty diapers often: Urine and stool can be acidic and irritating to a baby’s bum. To avoid prolonged contact, frequent changing is key. Wet, irritated skin is particularly vulnerable to infection.
Air it out: Whenever possible, avoid diapers all together. Allowing the skin to breathe is important and any accidents are usually pretty easy to clean up.
Support healthy gut flora: More and more evidence suggests the importance of balanced gut flora. I recommend all babies take a probiotic supplement but it is especially useful in prevention and treatment of secondary infections that commonly invade irritated skin, such as yeast. Aside from all the amazing benefits of probiotics, evidence proves they are extremely safe and when taken properly, have not been associated with any adverse events. It is important to determine which strain or strains of probiotics are necessary for your concerns and to ensure the appropriate dosing. Consult a naturopathic doctor for specific recommendations for your baby.
Even with diligent hygiene, diaper rash does happen. When it does, you may have to do more than the prevention strategies above.
Alkaline Bath: Help neutralize the acidity caused by contact with urine by adding 1 tablespoon of baking soda to warm bath water.
Soothe with a cream: Choose a cream that will soothe and heal the skin, as well as provide a barrier between the skin and urine/stool. Coconut oil is a good option for minor irritation but a persistent rash may need a good zinc oxide cream. There are lots of great homemade recipes that are also very effective and often include coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, and zinc oxide. These options allow you to avoid the harsh chemicals and perfumes in many store bought options.
Make a change: If your baby suddenly develops a rash (on the bum or anywhere on the body) consider what comes in contact with his/her skin…did you recently change your detergent? Did you buy a different brand of wipes or diapers? If your baby’s skin seems reactive from Day 1, consider making a change to hypoallergenic options and limiting the use of anything other than warm water to wash baby’s skin.
Track food introduction: It’s a great idea to keep a note pad in the kitchen to jot down any new foods baby is introduced to. If a rash develops, it is easier to make associations between the change in skin and a new food. The guidelines for food introduction have changed and will continue to. Speak with a naturopathic doctor to get the most relevant information.
Ask for help: Being a caregiver is the most challenging (and rewarding) job. Sometimes the quickest solution to a problem is to ask for help. Naturopathic doctors are highly educated, well trained healthcare professionals who can offer effective advice for you and your family.