What parent hasn’t had to deal with diaper rash at least once? Although these rashes generally aren’t serious, they can be extremely uncomfortable for the child, making life for the rest of the household a bit more challenging. Most rashes are caused by a combination of irritation from friction (diaper rubbing on skin) and moisture (urine or stool left on the skin). For babies with sensitive skin, chemicals used in the diapers themselves can be an issue as can chemicals in some of the wipes and diaper creams/ointments. Here are a few suggestions of Natural treatments that can help soothe your child’s rash:
- Hygeine–changing diapers frequently is extremely important. For really bad rashes, you may even consider letting your child have some diaper free time as exposure to air can help the rash heal more quickly.
- Reduce chemicals–change brands of diapers or wipes to some that are free of chemicals irritants such as chlorine. Sometimes the fit of the diaper can make a difference too. If you use cloth diapers and wash your own, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle to reduce alkalinity (most diaper services will do this on request if they don’t already).
- Consider Food Sensitivities–if the rash is a persistent red ring around the anus and is accompanied by either frequent loose stools, constipation, or rashes elsewhere on the body (particularly the face, trunk, and insides of elbows and knees), your child may have a food sensitivity. A Naturopathic Doctor can help you identify and eliminate the offending food(s). Your child’s pediatrician may also have some general advice but may not be familiar with alternative methods of detecting food sensitivities (different than the life-threatening type of food allergy).
- Calendula–this flower (aka Marigold) can help skin heal quickly and is perfect for rashes of any sort. Calendula cream may be applied topically to the rash; calendula diaper ointment (which contains other helpful ingredients specifically for diaper rash) may also be useful
- Lanolin–many nursing moms are familiar with lanolin nipple cream. This is a great alternative to petroleum based products, is generally safe to use on infants, and is less likely to cause irritation in kids with extreme sensitivity. This should be applied after the area is clean to help protect the skin. Since it creates a barrier, you may want to apply it on top of calendula or other creams that need to penetrate the skin in order to work.
- Zinc oxide–most of us are familiar with this traditional diaper paste. Try mixing with calendula cream (or find calendula diaper ointment with Zinc in it already). Zinc is a nutrient used by the skin and helps to speed up the healing. Apply to affected skin and for added protection, apply lanolin on top.
- Homeopathics–there are a variety of homeopathic remedies, both topical and oral, that may help decrease the severity of diaper rash. For diaper rashes that come on with other symptoms, homeopathic remedies may be especially helpful. Check with a Naturopathic Doctor or Homeopath for recommendations about which remedy is best for your child.
- Hydrotherapy–a tepid sitz bath with Epsom Salts can be especially soothing for diaper rash. Add 2 cups of Epsom Salts and enough luke warm/room temp water to a tub to reach the child’s waist while sitting (or use an infant tub and add 1/2 cup of Epsom Salts). The affected area should be submerged in the water for at least 15-20 minutes for therapeutic benefits.
While the above suggestions may be helpful for many types of diaper rash, more serious cases may require prescription medications and persistent or chronic rash that does not clear up within a few days should definitely be seen by a practitioner. Also, if your child’s rash is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, rash elsewhere, loss of appetite, or lethargy, you should seek medical attention for your child.