Diaper Rash: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Diaper dermatitis isn’t just uncomfortable for our little ones, but sometimes it's really tough to get rid of. We’ve gathered the most helpful tips for fighting and, even better, for preventing diaper dermatitis.
What is Diaper Dermatitis – Symptoms
There are two types of diaper dermatitis. The non-infectious, ammoniacal diaper dermatitis or diaper rash is identified by red spots and welts and/or sore, sometimes scaly patches on the buttocks. The rash can be quite uncomfortable for the little ones. It’s painful and is noticeable due to itchiness and a burning sensation during urination.
Diaper dermatitis caused by yeast or diaper thrush is characterized by red rash with white pus-filled bumps/pimples. Unlike ammoniacal diaper dermatitis, diaper thrush is contagious and further treatment should be discussed with your pediatrician.
What Causes Diaper Dermatitis – Triggers/Causes
Triggers for diaper dermatitis are primarily low air circulation and a moist environment. Tight-fitting disposable diapers negatively impact comfort in the diaper area due to their low breathability.
Other factors such as teething and the associated "acidic" stool can irritate the sensitive skin of babies and lead to a sore bottom. If your baby has already started on solid foods, their diet also plays a role, as acidic foods (e.g., tomatoes or fruits) can affect the stool.
What Helps with Diaper Dermatitis – Treatment
Diaper Dermatitis Cream
Due to diaper dermatitis, the baby’s bottom is more susceptible to fungal infections, so the skin should be treated as quickly as possible. There are several creams designed to accelerate healing. Barrier creams with zinc keep the area dry and the zinc contained promotes wound healing. Calendula also proves to be a helper against a sore bottom. In pharmacies, you can also get ointments that additionally contain an antifungal agent to treat yeast infections.
However, keep in mind that these are (topically applied) medications and resistance can form with frequent use (meaning the pathogens become insensitive to the active ingredient). When choosing creams, pay attention to good ingredients; the results of ecological tests can be a good guide.
Home Remedies for Diaper Dermatitis
Some home remedies can also help in the fight against diaper dermatitis. A chamomile tea sitz bath can work wonders. For this, fill the baby bath or sink with warm water (37°C) and a cup of chamomile tea and let your baby sit in it for a few minutes. Dry your baby well after the bath and let them wiggle around in the fresh air for a while.
Black tea is also one of the secret magic remedies for diaper dermatitis. The tannins in black tea help close the wound and form a protective layer on the baby's skin. Brew a cup of black tea, let it steep for ten minutes and cool down. Dab the tea onto the affected areas and let the skin dry in the air. You can repeat this with every diaper change. The tea will keep for three days in the refrigerator. Caution: black tea should not come into contact with your or baby’s clothes as it may leave stains.
Another time-tested home remedy is (organic) medical wool from the pharmacy or drugstore. The wool absorbs excess fluid and the lanolin (wool fat) cares for the irritated skin, has a soothing effect, and supports regeneration.
Which Diapers to Use for Diaper Dermatitis
Air circulation and a dry environment are the most important components for treating or preventing diaper dermatitis. However, disposable diapers are designed to seal everything hermetically: they're intended to prevent leaks, feel dry around the clock, require less changing, and ideally prevent unpleasant odors with synthetic fragrances. The impermeable material of disposable diapers inhibits the necessary air circulation, which is needed for the healing of diaper dermatitis or for its prevention.
Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are especially well-suited for the prevention of diaper dermatitis. With Judes, you've therefore come to the right place. Many parents tell us that since they started using our cloth diapers, they have had no more issues with diaper dermatitis or diaper thrush. This is because our diapers are particularly breathable. We achieve this through two technical innovations:
We use especially breathable organic cotton for the inner diaper. We select a very thin yet extremely tightly woven cotton twill. This combines several advantages: It fits snugly, is very absorbent, and also breathable. So far, we have not found another supplier in Europe who uses a comparable twill.
We use at least 10 layers of this cotton twill on top of each other. Thus, creating interstices where air can circulate. When using Judes, we recommend not to use any cream for the baby's bottom – it's simply not necessary, as the skin barrier is not compromised. The bottom retains its natural temperature and thus remains healthy!
Did you also know that disposable diapers often contain a lotion that frequently includes fragrances and petroleum-based paraffins? This is necessary so that the skin does not dry out due to the use of disposable diapers. Therefore, it's possible that your baby may temporarily tend towards dry skin when switching from disposable to Judes cloth diapers. However, after the adjustment period, the skin is again ready for "self-sufficiency" and finds its balance.
Preventing Diaper Dermatitis
In the best case scenario, diaper dermatitis won't occur at all. Just follow a few tips, and hopefully, your baby will be rid of the unpleasant diaper dermatitis forever. As already mentioned, cloth diapers are excellent for preventing diaper dermatitis.
Additionally, you should give your baby as much diaper-free time as possible. A pleasant room temperature and warm leg warmers will keep your child cosy. You’ll see that your baby really enjoys this time of freedom. It's best to place a muslin cloth underneath them to catch any urine and/or feces.
Also, make sure to change your child often enough. This keeps the diaper area dry and prevents the onset of diaper dermatitis. Clean the bottom after every bowel movement thoroughly with our reusable washcloths and clear water and avoid using wet wipes. These contain unnecessary chemicals and preservatives – yes, even the ones labeled as "gentle" or "natural" – and can irritate the baby’s skin. If the baby's bottom does require extra care, you can simply add one or two drops of almond oil to the wash water. Pat the baby’s bottom dry thoroughly after cleaning.
When to Visit a Pediatrician for Diaper Dermatitis
If the symptoms do not improve within a few days, please consult your pediatrician. This way, fungal or other infections can be ruled out. A fungal infection should be treated as quickly as possible, so go to the doctor immediately if your child is affected. If there are blisters or bloody spots, also seek medical attention promptly from a doctor or midwife.