Unfortunately, I was—but I’m learning. In my defense, I think Little Miss’ eczema issues make her skin super sensitive. (As in sometimes food she smears on her face will leave big red spots.) It is my opinion that this sensitivity plays a hand in her ability to go from healthy, happy bum cheeks to burning, bleeding bum cheeks in a matter of moments. (Am I the only one surprised that diaper rash involves bleeding? Just little spots but I had no idea poop could eat all the way through the skin. Ouch.) And once that diaper rash shows up it is almost impossible to get rid of. Little Miss and I cried through a lot of diaper changes before I found a solution that worked for us. (Side note: I think the muscles-clenched, shivering-in-pain look babies get is the most heartbreaking thing on earth.)
I am a firm believer in naked time. (For children.) Being constantly enclosed in a semi-airtight bag of water would irritate anyone’s skin on any part of their body. Add in that diapers actually contain corrosive urine and poop and infants have significantly more sensitive and permeable skin, especially in the diaper area and you can see why problems develop. Giving those little bums a chance to air out (especially when they have a raging case of diaper rash) can go a long way in helping to clear up the rash. Warning: if you are going to try naked time be prepared to clean up pee and/or poop from your floor. Anyone who tells you children will miss the diaper too much to do any business is lying. Good thing I love that girl.
I feel I am setting myself up for a lecture on the benefits of cloth diapering and/or “elimination communication.” While I admire the dedication of parents who opt for these options and appreciate the favor they are doing our environment, I can’t go there. If you are willing to try these options, your baby will probably enjoy a much happier bum. Feel free to brag about it to the rest of us.
Other general prevention/treatment tips, as provided by HealthyChildren.org, include frequent diaper changes (duh?) and cleaning poopy bums with a soft cloth and water to avoid the irritation of diaper wipes (I use soft toilet paper and throw it in the toilet and then do a thorough rinse under the bathtub faucet). Also, it might be mere coincidence but we cut down the acidic foods (tomatoes and fresh oranges) Little Miss was eating and it seemed to make a difference. On occasion, babies do have allergies to the dyes in diapers. If you suspect such an allergy, there are dye-free (read: expensive) diapers you can try.
TREATING DIAPER RASH
Treatment for diaper rash basically consists of protecting the rash area so it can heal, mainly through the use of creams or ointments. Before using any of those products you’ll want to make sure the area is completely clean and dry—trapping anything under these waterproof coatings can make the rash worse. There are a plethora of options here and it took me a few tries to find what worked for us. First off, I tried zinc oxide (aka Desitin®) several times but I wasn’t impressed. Even with a super thick coating I couldn’t see any difference in the rash and it was a pain to wash off. Thank goodness a little heavenly inspiration stepped in—in the form of reading the label of the Aquaphor® we were already using for her eczema spots. “Apply as needed for diaper rash.” Done and done. A coating of Aquaphor® reminiscent of Martha Stewart frosting after each diaper change got that rash under control almost overnight. (Lest anyone think I am a paid Aquaphor® representative, you could probably get similar results from plain ole petroleum jelly but I find the jelly to be stickier/messier.)
The other major category of ointments is the lanolin based products (aka vitamin A&D ointment) and I would imagine they also work quite well. Mostly because I used lanolin ointment myself while breastfeeding and it works wonders. If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned baby powder it’s because baby powder is bad for babies. Talcum and corn starch powders are fine enough for babies to inhale which can lead to respiratory problems. Besides, a nice thick ointment is really the only way to get the protection those bums need.
A lot of people, have used liquid antacid (think Maalox® or Mylanta®) applied directly to the rash to, theoretically, provide an astringent (drying) effect and to neutralize any acid coming in contact with the skin. Pharmacist’s Letter (an online subscription-based pharmacists’ resource I love) reports that this is mostly urban legend. But then, in the comments under this article, a lot of community pharmacists, nurse practitioners and doctors comment on how they love using a 50:50 mixture of Aquaphor® and Maalox® for their own children. Maybe the Aquaphor® does all the work or maybe there is something magic in the combination. Either way, there are lots of cheap generic versions of Maalox® so it can’t hurt to try if you find the Aquaphor® alone isn’t making enough of a difference. Just be a little cautious because babies (especially with a rash) have that super-permeable skin and absorbing the aluminum and magnesium in liquid antacid isn’t really a great thing. So this is not a long term treatment option.
If you have tried a couple of options and the rash isn’t getting better, then it is time for your pediatrician to check it out. Also, if the diaper rash develops while your baby is taking antibiotics you will want to call the pediatrician sooner as it is much more likely to be a yeast infection.
Anyone have success with something different? Anything you wouldn’t use again?