Your child has developed a rash. As unpleasant as that is most children and parents suffer through this at some point during their diapering days. Some children are more susceptible than others, often within the same family.
Rash doesn't usually happen as a result of using cloth or disposable diapers but rather from a lack of changing the diaper soon enough. There are numerous variables that increase skin sensitivity such as loose stools, diarrhea, teething, fever/illness, heat, allergies, diet, friction and simply susceptibility.
The jury is still out on whether more rash results from using cloth or disposables. My own doctor says the amount of rash he sees is about the same whether using cloth or disposables but when he sees rash with the disposable diapered baby it is usually much more severe. (Likely because the baby's diaper wasn't changed in a timely fashion.)
Urine alone does not generally damage skin, but if skin is allowed to become hydrated (filled with liquid), it is more easily damaged by irritants such as friction, chemicals or microbes. (i.e., bacteria or yeast). When baby is mobile and the diaper rubs on wet skin, it may result in a rash. The mixture of urine and feces produces ammonia (high pH), which increases fecal enzyme activity, making the skin more susceptible to damage.
Skin hydration is a common form of rash and results from infrequent diaper changes. It is red and inflamed, warm to the touch and very sensitive. It may or may not be in the crevices. The very best rash preventative for hydrated skin is more frequent diapers changes. This is particularly necessary for children that are more prone to developing rash. In a situation where a rash has already developed and is hard to clear, the diaper area should be gently washed with warm water and a mild soap followed by a warm gentle, thorough rinse. Ideally this would be done with each diaper change but this is sometimes not realistic, and so, should be done as frequently as possible until the affected area clears.
Air baby's bottom in a warm place after bath time and/or as often as possible. It is good for the skin to breath. If and when practical allow baby to wear only the diaper without the cover over top. This will help the diaper area to breath and the cover hides the evidence that a change is necessary. This is a time when a fitted diaper is quite convenient because the cover is separate and can be left off and the diaper will stay up on its own.
Another tip is to remember to use the manufacturers recommended amount of detergent. If you feel the diapers are not coming clean enough you may choose to increase the amount of detergent used. Remember to use hot water. Let the tap nearest your washer run until the water is hot. We recommend a min. of 60 degrees C. If the rash persists, or keeps coming back you may consider changing other things besides wet diapers. Try a detergent like Dreft or Ivory Snow. They are specially formulated to be both very effective detergents and gentle on young children’s skin. We also recommend running a second final rinse and adding a cup of white vinegar to lower the pH and help remove detergent residues if present. Vinegar is also a natural softener.
For more information on detergents, how and what makes them effective we highly recommend reading http://www.mother-ease.com/MEZForum/Cloth-diaper-washing-101-m1550.aspx
For more information on rash we recommend reading: http://www.mother-ease.com/cloth-diapers/30
Until baby’s skin has completely cleared of rash the diaper should be kept dry. It requires almost constant diaper changes but the skin will heal. When the skin is completely clear of rash you can start to go longer intervals between diaper changes and monitor the state of the skin. We also recommend increasing baby’s fluids. This will make the urine less acidic.
Written by Erika Froese
co- owner of ME cloth diapers with over 30 years of experience in use and design. The only proven source for expertise relating to the use, care and design of cloth diapers.
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