Monday, March 26, 2012

The Great Diaper Dilemma - How to Deal With Diaper Rash

Diaper Rash is one of those awful things you and baby could do without. Seriously. Also terrible is the guilt that goes along with having somehow caused the rash by being negligent and not changing your baby on time. Lose the guilt, it's not your fault. Some children are more susceptible than others especially if they are sensitive to particular types of foods - with Z, it was always sour fruits - the day she would OD on grapes, her stool would become acidic and her bottom would be as red as a tomato.

First things first -- lose the diaper! I know it's a pain (especially when you have a boy, ugh!) but sometimes that alone does the trick. Lay your baby on a towel and let him/her get some air. If you can do that at intervals throughout the day, you will be well on your way to solving the issue. Similarly, do not use wipes! While they're a great help on the go, you can skip them altogether at home and use cotton wool and warm water. Add some lavender to the water or some rose water (one of my favourite home remedies of all time - ladies, try using pure rose water as an astringent, great for the skin and smells great!) and some witch hazel and you have a home made diaper wash. If you have to put a diaper back on, make sure baby is completely dry as moisture can exacerbate the problem. 

The best diaper rash cream out there is none other than our old friend, Calendula! It doesn't sting, heals faster than you can say boo and has no harsh chemicals found in commercially prepared diaper ointments that can make matters worse. My favourite brand is Weleda but any ointment (I prefer ointment, not lotion or  cream as the ointment is much more soothing) which is pure, homeopathically prepared Calendula with no other additives will work just as well. (I don't recommend homeopathic self treatment for any type of rash, even diaper rash; please see a professional if you want to go the homeopathy route)

For a longer term solution, assess your baby's diet to see if there are any identifiable culprits. Add a probiotic or incorporate lots of organic, plain yoghurt to baby's diet which will help balance the intestinal flora. Do this especially if your child is taking antibiotics as they tend to deplete the stomach of both the good and the bad bacteria.

Another culprit for frequent/persistent diaper rash is Candida, the fungus that causes a yeast infection. If baby's bottom is bright red and shiny and has raised blotches, yeast may be the reason. All the above tips will help, especially the probiotics, but here are some additional remedies you can try for yeast if you want to avoid giving your child anti fungal medication:

Tea Tree Oil (external use ONLY): put a drop of tea tree essential oil into a heaped tablespoon of almond oil and either add to your baby's bath or massage onto baby's bottom. Make sure you dilute it as it will sting if you don't!

Yoghurt: we talked about incorporating probiotics into your child's diet but smearing plain yoghurt directly onto the diaper area is also great for yeast infections! The coolness of the yoghurt will help soothe the inflammation and you'll be kung fu(ngus) fighting the germs too. Double whammy!

GSE: one of my all time favourites and safe to use, even with a newborn! You can make a wash by adding 5 or so drops of it into a jug of warm water and applying to the rash or as an oral dose by mixing 1-2 drops with some juice. If you're breast feeding, take it yourself and it will move downstream to your child (adjust the dose accordingly).

Change detergent/diaper brand: if you are not using a natural laundry detergent, this may be the time to make a switch. I noticed R's eczema changing for the better the moment I switched from a regular (hypo-allergenic mind you) detergent to one free of harsh chemicals. Same goes for your brand of diaper.  

Here's to soft skin, as smooth as a baby's *rash free* bottom!!


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