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Dealing with Diaper Rash

While diaper rash isn't that common among cloth-diapered babies, it does happen. Below are the 3 common types of diaper rashes that can occur with cloth diapers and what to do about them.

Click here to view a list of recommended diaper rash creams.

Common Diaper Rashes

Type of Rash

Appearance

Location

Contact Rash

This rash is usually flat and tends to look like welts. Occasionally it can also look like either very, tiny red bumps like a heat rash or slightly larger bumps like hives.

Usually around the waist and leg areas. Can also appear along bum and genital area.

Ammonia Burn

This rash is flat and looks more like a carpet burn. It tends to be a round, red splotch and can be anywhere from the size of a penny to the size of an orange slice. It’s also sensitive to the touch. The outside of baby’s genitals may also appear unusually bright red.

This rash usually appears on baby’s bum.

Yeast Rash

This rash looks like bad acne. Bumps will appear large (and sometimes open) like large pores or pimples.

Usually appears first around baby's genitals and bum and then spreads.

1. Contact Rash


THE CAUSE:
If the rash appears mostly around the leg and waist area, then it's likely caused by chafing (i.e. baby’s movement is causing rubbing along the edges of the diaper.) If the rash appears mostly around the bum area, then it's likely caused by a material allergy (i.e. an allergy to synthetic materials).

THE SOLUTION:

Material Allergy Solutions
Some babies are sensitive to synthetic materials. If you're child developed rashes while wearing disposables diapers, this is likely the reason why. If this is the case, you'll need to switch to diapers where only natural fibers touch her skin (e.g. cotton, bamboo and hemp). Many pocket diapers have a fleece or suede cloth inner lining. Fleece and suede cloth are synthetic materials derived from plastic. If your baby has a sensitivity to synthetic materials, these types of diapers will cause a rash wherever the fleece or suede cloth touches baby skin. To avoid this, consider diapers with all natural inner lining materials like Pooters, Softbums, Sustainablebabyish, Swaddlebees, Green Acre Designs, Happy Heinys, and Bum Genius Elementals.

Chafing Solutions:
The solution varies on this one. Some diapers (typically fitteds and contours) are made in a way that the stitching on the edge of the diaper faces outward. For some babies, this stitching can irritate their skin. If this is the case, you should look for diapers labeled T&T which means “turned and top-stitched”. Basically this means the stitching is hidden. Most WAHMs (Work at Home Moms) will label their diapers this way, most larger manufacturers make their diapers this way but don’t label them as such.

Another solution could be to change the type of diaper. For example, diapers that snap on the side tend to allow for more adjustability in the leg area which is great for babies with chunky thighs. Consequently, some diapers that close in the front can be difficult to adjust for babies with chunky thighs and they can be tight in the leg area causing chafing when they move.

Lastly, your child could have a sensitivity to latex. This is rare (less than 8% of the population) but does happen. Some diapers have exposed elastic in the leg and waist area. The contact of that elastic with baby’s skin can cause this type of rash. In this case I recommend switching to a diaper that has enclosed elastic. Below are just a few examples.

1. Latex-free Brands: Swaddlebees, Snap EZ, Thirsties, Blueberry, Kissaluvs, Bummis, and Imse Vimse

2. Covered Elastic Brands: Smartipants, Happy Heinys, Softbums, Rocky Mountain and Pooters

2. Ammonia Burn


THE CAUSE:
The culprit is usually one of two things – detergent buildup or moisture sensitivity. Detergent buildup is easy to detect in that at diaper change, the diaper will most likely wreak of ammonia. Basically what it means is that your diaper hasn’t been getting fully cleaned each time you washed. Some detergents are harder to rinse out than others. Some fabrics (e.g. microfiber) hold on to detergent moreso than others. And some places have really hard water or really soft water which can make it difficult to clean in general – much less clean a cloth diaper.

Moisture sensitivity however is almost the opposite of detergent buildup. The diaper most likely will NOT wreak of ammonia at diaper change. In this case the baby is probably just really sensitive to moisture sitting against her skin and the simple contact with it is causing the rash.

THE SOLUTION:
First, to help clear the rash, use a good, cloth-diaper friendly ointment like Earth Mama Angel Baby or Grandma El's - applying it liberally to the irritated area.

Detergent Buildup
If it’s a detergent buildup issue , then you need to strip your diapers. Stripping diapers is the process of removing all buildup from your diapers. You may also consider changing detergents as some cause less buildup overtime than others. Good detergents to use are Country Save, Lulu's In the Fluff, Ecosprout, and Rockin' Green. They’re cloth diaper friendly, natural and free of ingredients that can irritate your baby’s skin.

Moisture Sensitivity
If it’s a moisture sensitivity issue, then you can try either changing your baby more often (i.e. every 2 to 3 hours) or using microfleece to create a moisture wicking barrier between baby and the diaper. Some pocket diapers come with a microfleece interior so the layer is already there. Other diapers (like fitteds and prefolds) for example usually have a natural fiber against baby’s skin which doesn’t wick moisture away. To fix that, buy microfleece fabric from your local fabric store. Cut the fabric to fit inside of each diaper and lay it on top to create the barrier between baby and the diaper. The fleece will wick the moisture away to keep baby dry. You can also purchase precut fleece liners online like the ones made by Bummis.

3. Yeast Rash


THE CAUSE:
The culprit is almost always baby’s diet. A diet high in citrus, dairy or gluten will kill good bacteria in baby’s poo and when it comes the bad bacteria will cause this type of rash. This also works the same if mommy is breastfeeding and eats something with citrus, dairy or gluten.

THE SOLUTION:
Change baby’s diet to restore good bacteria to her system, clear up the rash, and disinfect each cloth diaper load for the next 5 days to kill the bacteria in the diaper. For more details read Getting Rid of Yeast Diaper Rash