Sunday, May 29, 2011
Easy Guide to Diaper Rashes
I get a lot of questions about diaper rashes; I also see these questions a lot on parenting forums. What seems like a complicated baby problem can actually be quite easy. In my experience, there are 3 main reasons for/causes of diaper rashes. Of course, there are a couple of other minor players in this game (like abscesses, staph infection, etc.), but they are not nearly as common. Be forewarned, this post does include pictures of butts!
Diaper Rash #1: The Eczema Rash
A very common and often overlooked cause of diaper rashes in babies is an allergy, either food or environmental. It has a very distinct look from other diaper rashes; it is usually patchy, shiny in some spots, and smooth. It often has the appearance of lines going through it as well.
With my fifth baby, his eczematic rash was accompanied by reflux (lots of spitting up) and once in a while projectile vomiting. These symptoms were verification that his diaper rash was from a food-related sensitivity or allergy to something I was eating (since he was exclusively breastfed). Whenever I would eat the offending food, his next feeding would result in spitting up. Then about 3 hours or so later, his poo from that food would cause the eczematic diaper rash.
Since many moms report this problem being caused by a dairy sensitivity or allergy, that was the first food I eliminated. It was easy to see after just a short period of time that it was definitely not dairy, so I cut out corn. I noticed he spit up more when I ate homemade pizza, which is another reason I thought it was dairy at first. The only common denominator to our pizzas and some of the other offending meals was the cornstarch I was using to thicken the sauce. (I was making Alfredo-sauce pizzas--mmmm. . . )
Once I cut that out, I noticed that the baby did not spit up anymore AT ALL. I thought spit up was common in babies, but the complete absence of it upon eliminating corn astounded me. I noticed that even foods like whole wheat tortillas made with baking powder (which is made with cornstarch) would cause baby to spit up and have a rash as well. At first, I couldn't believe that such a small ingredient would play such a major role in baby's problems. But I figure that it was because of the condensed nature of this corn-based product. (BTW: I was even using non-GMO cornstarch.)
If this sounds like problems you may be encountering with your baby, I suggest either doing an elimination diet or starting a food journal. Record the foods you eat and put notations by the foods you notice cause your baby to have problems. Find the common denominator and test it out!
If you find food is not the problem, you may need to look into environmental allergens. I would start first with the diaper--conventional disposable diapers are loaded with chemicals that can trigger an auto-immune response.
And while you're dealing with baby's rash, I highly recommend Burt's Bees Diaper Ointment. It is amazing!
One final note: Sometimes, The Runs Rash (see below) can turn into an eczematic-type rash after a period of time. Then it is obvious that it is not an allergic reaction.
Diaper Rash #2: The Beasty Yeasty Rash
Diaper rashes from yeast infections are increasingly common and very difficult to get rid of unless you know what it is from. With the use of antibiotics increasing, so are the instances of yeast rashes in babies. Not only are they overly-prescribed, but antibiotics have found their way into our food supply and even flu shots. Breastfeeding moms are often prescribed antibiotics for mastitis, and babies are given them for a variety of (often unnecessary) reasons. And with sugar consumption also increasing, yeast is proliferating on a much grander scale in the general population's bodies, including babies and toddlers.
The diaper rash from yeast overgrowth (aka a yeast infection) appears as red, raised bumpy skin mostly over the genitalia but also spreading to other areas. It is similar in appearance to chicken pox but in some spots can be more solid where there are more dots in one place.
While most doctors (and parents) will resort to antibacterial creams (which may temporarily solve the rash problem but do not address the underlying health issue that originally caused the rash), there is a much easier and cheaper solution without side effects: Probiotics. "Good" bacteria helps keep "bad" bacteria from overtaking our gut and intestines. When there is too much "bad" bacteria, it begins to cause problems such as yeast overgrowth on our skin (which is one of the body's major detox pathways). You can apply yogurt directly to baby's bottom or give it to them internally (stay away from the stuff with sugar though, ey?!). You can also buy yogurt powder and mix in with some coconut oil for a DIY yeast rash cream!
Another very simple and even more inexpensive solution is to apply raw apple cider
vinegar with a cotton ball with each diaper change. (You can find this at most grocery stores and all natural health food stores. I prefer the Bragg's brand which is the only one that has been found to be truly raw. In a pinch, however, regular ol' apple cider vinegar will do.)
Of course, this treatment will not help restore bacterial balance to the child's gut. Remember: A yeast infection that presents itself as a diaper rash is much more than a diaper rash and needs proper attention. Giving your child either a daily dose of acidophilus supplements (use as directed on package) or unsweetened yogurt/kefir will help address the problem.
Diaper Rash #3: The Runs Rash
The Runs Rash is named this around our house because it usually only appears when baby has an episode of diarrhea. It can also happen with babies whose diapers are not changed frequently. It is a bright red solid rash with very distinct boundary lines. Fortunately, this is the easiest diaper rash to treat. In addition to changing baby's diaper more frequently (and immediately after diarrhea), a zinc ointment like Burt's Bees diaper ointment will usually help cure the problem right away.
As I said before, there are of course other causes of diaper rash. But since these are the three most common and the question of diaper rashes is also very common, I wanted to break it all down for everyone in a simple guide. Do you have any natural diaper rash treatments you've found that work great? Leave a comment and let us know!