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Living Naturally :: Diaper Rash Demystified – Part 2: Diagnosing By Appearance

Thankfully, last week’s post on finding the cause of your diaper rash was fairly G-rated with only slight mentions of bodily functions.

That’s about to change, so hang on to your gag-reflex!

Like I mentioned, there is nothing pretty about diaper rash, but thankfully, there is a way to begin diagnosing the cause of your child’s rash, based on it’s appearance.

(The following list is taken from Dr. Sear’s my notes and natural treatment options are in parenthesis and italicized)

  1. Contact diaper rash – this is simply the regular rash.

  2. Appearance – flat, red, irritated skin. When severe, skin will peel or blister and slough off.

  3. Treatment – as described above (thorough cleaning and the all time MOST AMAZING skin soother – breast milk.  Allow your child’s bum to dry completely and liberally apply breast milk to the red areas and allow it to dry completely before putting the diaper back on.  If breast milk is not an option, then use an all-natural diaper rash cream or coconut oil.  If using cloth diapers, make sure to choose something that is cloth-diaper safe).

  4. Intertrigo – this is a specific rash that occurs within the skin folds and creases around the diaper area where the skin rubs together. (I also believe that this rash is the kind most commonly seen by teething babies.  The pH balance of the saliva of teething babies is very acidic, an seems to cause a more burn-like appearance)

  5. Appearance – Heat and moisture mixed with urine cause a red, burn-like appearance.

  6. Treatment – regular white petroleum diaper ointment. (I love Dr. Sears, but please don’t put petroleum on your child!!! ick. Allow your child to go diaper free so that the creases in baby’s skin can get some air.  Cream may be appropriate, but  simply allowing the skin to dry thoroughly is the key!  Once it is dry, if the skin is still painful to the touch, apply lanolin ointment or coconut oil.  Both are naturally healing and soothing and safe for cloth diapers.)  

  7. Yeast rash – when the skin is damaged, yeast from the intestines can invade the skin. This especially occurs with antibiotic use or prolonged rash.

  8. Appearance – it is a red, raised, patchy rash with sharp borders, mostly over the genitalia but with satellite spots sprinkled around the diaper area.

  9. Treatment – in addition to the above measures, there are two commonly used anti-fungal creams:

  10. Clotrimazole – over-the-counter. Apply 2 – 3 times a day beneath the other creams.

  11. Nystatin – prescription. Not necessarily better, just different.

  12. Acidophilus – this is a natural bacterial powder that fights off yeast. (START HERE!  A yeast infection is bacterial, so start with the least invasive option!  As strange as it sounds, use some plain flavored kefir and apply to your child’s bum as you would diaper rash cream. Kefir has 10x the probiotic strength of yogurt, but it can sting open sores, so allow your child’s skin to air dry before applying.  If it causes your child too much discomfort, mix the kefir with coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio.  Reapply for several diaper changes, and, in my experience you should notice a difference after the first few hours.)

  13. Impetigo – this occurs when bacteria invade the damaged skin.

  14. Appearance – coin-sized blisters or red raised patches that ooze a honey-colored crust.

  15. Treatment – prescription antibiotic ointment as well as the above general measures. (Refer to the above note on treating your child’s bum with kefir)

  16. Seborrhea – an inflammatory condition that can affect different parts of the body, but can be especially severe in the diaper area.

  17. Appearance – a big, red, sharply demarcated patch over the groin, genitalia, and lower abdomen. It can be more raised, rough, thick, and greasy than the other rashes.

  18. Treatment – hydrocortisone 1% cream (over-the-counter) 2 – 3 times a day. Don’t use more than a week unless directed by your doctor. (Seborrhea is a fungal infection, and there are many natural anti-fungal treatments.  Begin with adding tea tree oil to baby’s bath – 3-4 drops in an infant tub or 10-12 drops in a shallow full-sized bathtub, and allow baby to soak (making sure that the water does not get into baby’s eyes.  if you use cloth wipes, add 5-8 drops of tea tree oil to an 8oz spray bottle of wipe solution, and use during diaper changes.  Follow up with a liberal amount of coconut oil – a natural antibacterial and anti-fungal option  Also, if you are using cloth diapers, make sure that you strip the diapers using tea tree  oil in order to remove the hidden fungi in the diapers.  I simply wash my diaper as usual, then add a hot rinse with 40 drops of tea tree oil, finish the cycle, and then add one last rinse.  You can also take a look at our recipe for anti-fungal diaper spray)   

  19. Allergy ring – a variety of foods can irritate baby’s bottom, especially acidic foods such as citrus and tomato-based sauces.

  20. Appearance – a red ring around baby’s anus.

  21. Treatment – discontinue suspected foods. Breastfeeding moms may need to eliminate foods from their diet. (Let the poor bum air dry and again, use the amazing power of breast milk!  However, if you are nursing exclusively and this allergic reaction is due to something you consumed, wait approximately 12-24 hours before applying breast milk to make sure that the potential allergen is out of your system. Treat this inflammation as you would a regular rash – start with breast milk (if possible), natural diaper rash creams or coconut oil.)

This is by no means completely conclusive, but the descriptions of the various rashes outlined here can make a HUGE difference when you are trying to figure out how to treat your child’s diaper rash.

What about you?  Do you have any tried and true diaper rash home remedies?  Feel free to share!

Diaper rashes are not usually a cause for concern, but there are other warning signs that can merit a call to your pediatrician, such as a high fever, discolored spots, a rash that spreads beyond the diaper area, blisters/boils, pus or discharge from the sores, etc.  When in doubt, make the phone call! And remember, I am NOT a doctor – I’m a mommy and I’m only sharing from my personal research and experience.  ALWAYS consult your doctor when it comes to assessing the best medical treatment options for your child!


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