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Baby Break Out – My Poor Little Niece

Does your baby have sensitive skin?  My niece does.  But who knew?  Sensitive skin doesn’t run in our family, she isn’t particularly fair and she doesn’t have any specific allergies that we know of.  But for some reason little Lainey Bug has had raised red itchy patches all over her body since shortly after she was born.  She was constantly wiggling and trying to scratch herself and was a poor sleeper due to discomfort.  Thinking it was eczema, her parents took her to the pediatrician who said, no, it wasn’t eczema, just ‘sensitive skin’ and to stop using all products on her skin.  Then she gave them medicated cream.

Not wanting to use medicated cream unless it proved necessary, they stopped using their highly scented commercial laundry detergent, the hypoallergenic Live Clean Baby Wash and Johnson & Johnson Baby Lotion.  But then they were unsure of how to keep Lainey’s laundry and skin clean and they asked me for help.

I suggested Charlie’s Soap for her laundry.  It’s biodegradeable, non-toxic, cloth diaper safe and great for all skin types (not to mention free of artificial fragrances).  Plus the company has been around for over 100 years.  How’s that for a track-record?  Then I switched them onto the Delish Naturals’ Skin Care Line.  Safe, effective and great for the whole family, Delish Naturals’ products are handmade in small batches right here in Canada so we know exactly what’s in it and time and time again it has shown how great it is for a baby’s skin with nourishing natural ingredients.  Lastly, we made sure she was in cloth diapers – free from carcinogens and plastics and more breathable for her bum.

And what happened you ask?  Well she’s better of course!  The red patches are completely gone, the itchiness has subsided, she no longer squirms and fusses and she started sleeping better.  How long did it take to see a change?  3 days.  Just 3 days.  Sometimes I think we take for granted how delicate the skin of a little human really is.  And even if your baby doesn’t have ‘sensitive skin’ it’s nice to know the products you’re putting on them are the gentlest there are right?

This is why we carry Charlie’s Soap and the Delish Naturals Skin Care Line.  Not because they make us lots of money, not because we get a kick-back from a big multi-national company, but because they’re safe, they’re effective, and they make my niece feel better.

Love you Lainey Bug!

Baby wipes (even ‘sensitive’ or ‘hypoallergenic’ ones) are one of the biggest offenders we see for babies that have persistent bum rashes when using cloth diapers.  Delicate baby skin often can’t handle the necessary preservatives they have to put in them to keep them bacteria free.  Cloth wipes and warm water fixes that problem and will save you about $100 a year.



Diaper Rashes – Causes and Cures

Okay, at Cloth Diaper Kids we deal with diapers and baby bums and with those two things, the question of rashes always comes up.  So let’s discuss some of the simple causes and simple solutions that might help your baby get rid of the redness.

**Let me preface the following info by saying that I am not a doctor or medical professional.  If your baby’s rash is severe, chronic, blistered/bleeding or does not show quick improvement, please see a doctor ASAP**

Alright, now let’s get to the basics and clear up one thing first.  Babies who are cloth diapered tend to get fewer rashes than babies in disposables.  Plain and simple.  However babies in cloth can get rashes too.  The skin in that area is super sensitive and thin and needs the best of care to remain healthy, BUT, not all rashes are caused by the diaper baby is wearing.

Rashes that have nothing to do with diapers

  • TEETHING – You’ll hear lots of people say that teething does not cause diaper rash, and then you’ll hear lots of other people swearing that it does.  Whether it’s caused by baby swallowing lots of extra saliva or by other factors going on in the body, many a mom has noticed a correlation between popping a tooth and a sore tushie.  Solution: A cloth safe barrier ointment can help a lot.  Delish Yum Bum Butter is a favorite of ours and can be used safely with cloth diapers.
  • DETERGENT SENSITIVITY – Just as there is a possibility of breaking out with a lotion, soap or cream there is the possibility of being sensitive to the detergent you are laundering your diapers in.  If you are using the correct amount of detergent for your machine and load size and an extra rinse at the end hasn’t helped…Solution: Try a different brand of detergent of course.  Note: just because you are using a certain detergent on baby’s clothing without an issue doesn’t mean it won’t cause a problem when you use it with your diapers.  Remember, in the diaper area you are dealing with very thin, delicate, sensitive skin and any detergent residues are combining with pee/poo in a moist environment.  Under these conditions a normally fine detergent may cause baby troubles.
  • SKIN CONDITIONS – If skin troubles run in your family, if baby has very fair skin or if baby is prone to or dealing with something such as eczema then re-occurring rashes can be frustrating for mom and annoying for baby.  Solution: Let baby have as much open air diaper free time as possible.  Keep baby in very breathable natural fabric diapers and consider preventative use of organic coconut oil or unscented Delish Yum Bum Butter at every change to keep skin healthy.  Wool covers can also be helpful rather than PUL as a waterproof layer.  A natural fabric diaper such a fitted or prefold paired with a wool cover is a classic favorite of sensitive skinned babies.
  • DISPOSABLE WIPES – Chemicals and preservatives used in disposable wipes can cause some really bad rashes and if not the actual cause of the rash they can exacerbate a rash baby already has and cause pain and stinging on raw skin.  Even so called ‘gentle’, ‘hypo-allergenic’ or ‘natural’ wipes still contain preservatives and can cause serious problems which is part of the reason why so many parents never consider them to be the cause of a rash.  Solution: Cloth wipes are the way to go.  Not only are they economical, they are soft, gentle and re-useable and come in a variety of different materials.  Plus you simply wash them right along with the diapers you are already laundering anyway.  Learn more about how to use cloth wipes here.
  • FOOD ALLERGIES / STARTING SOLIDS – Food can be a source of rashes too believe it or not.  Food allergies can cause bum rashes and babies beginning to eat solid foods can experience them too.  For example, our first baby loves oranges to a fault, but too much citrus and his poops become so acidic that they burn his skin and cause blistering rashes.  Also keep in mind that smaller babies, who are breastfeeding can be sensitive to something that mom has eaten and passed along in the milk and can get a rash that way too.  Solution: An excellent barrier cream is in order to keep poop from touching the skin if acidity is the issue.  For something nice and thick, consider pure lanolin or Lansinoh (the stuff you use for sore nipples when breastfeeding) to give the skin the protection it needs.  Lanolin and Lansinoh are cloth diaper safe.
  • SICKNESS & INFECTIONS – If baby has been sick (think diarrhea) this can change the PH of their bowel movements which can lead to skin irritations and rashes.  Additionally, some rashes can be caused by yeast (common after antibiotics, or if mom or baby has thrush from breastfeeding) or bacterial infections like staph.  Solution:  If baby is sick and has loose bowels then all you really need to do is protect the skin from the acidic-ness.  A cloth safe barrier cream will do the trick and flushable liners will make cleanups easier.  For yeast or bacterial infections you are best to see your doctor as a medicated cream may be necessary to treat the rash.  In these cases, switch to disposable diapers during treatment as the medicated cream is not cloth diaper safe and preventing re-infection is important.  During this time, sanitize your cloth diapers.  Contact us for info on how to do this (as the method will depend on what type of infection).

Rashes caused by cloth diapers

  • MATERIAL SENSITIVITIES – Sometimes rashing is the result of babies with sensitive skin who react to synthetic fabrics on the bum.  Occasionally we see babies who turn red from diapers that have fleece or minky on the inside and sometimes babies are sensitive to the waterproof PUL next to the skin or turn red in the leg creases from latex sensitivities in the elastics of certain diaper brands.  Solution: Natural fabric diapers.  Look for diapers with organic cotton, bamboo or hemp and use a PUL or wool cover overtop to make the system waterproof.  If latex elastics might be the issue, ask us which of our diaper brands feature latex-free elastics.
  • POOR FIT – Streaks of redness on the belly or thighs can sometimes indicate a poor fit (either too loose or too tight).  If chaffing is happening it can make baby uncomfortable and appear rash-like.  Solution: Make sure you are getting the right fit for the type of diapers you are using.  Leg elastics should fit in the crease of the leg the same way underwear would fit.  Elastics around the legs and waist should be snug so there are no gaps.  Slight red marks such as what you might experience from the elastics on your socks are nothing to worry about.  If you’re not sure about the fit you are getting on your baby, ask us.
  • WETNESS SENSITIVITY – Similar to babies who have skin that is sensitive to synthetic fabrics, there are babies who’s skin is sensitive to wetness.  This happens when baby is using natural fabric diapers such as cotton, bamboo or hemp where wetness is felt against the skin because there is no wicking layer.  During the day you may not see this kind of rash as baby is changed relatively often and the skin dries out a bit between changes.  At night however, when the diaper is on for longer you may see it more pronounced.  Solution: Lots of diaper-free air time for baby to get the rash under control.  Cornstarch used in the same way as baby powder to put a light coat over baby’s bum can help keep things dry and is safe to use with your cloth diapers.  Also, consider adding a wicking layer to your diapers with the addition of a thin stay-dry liner between diaper and baby to keep the wetness off the skin between changes (especially for overnight).  Or, switch to diapers that have a built in wicking layer such as those with microfleece or microsuede on the inside.  In addition to a wicking layer, a cloth safe  moisture barrier cream or lanolin can be helpful for overnight.  Note: DO NOT use cornstarch on any rash that may be caused by yeast.  It will make yeast rashes worse.  Also, baby powder that is made of talc should not be used on babies because of the inhalation risk.
  • AMMONIA BURN – Now this one can be quite serious as it is a chemical burn to the skin and can often be quite severe if not dealt with quickly.  If you’re dealing with ammonia, you’ll know it.  Ammonia smell is very very strong.  I mean burn your nose, sting your eyes till they tear strong.  This is different and stronger than barnyard smell, poopy smell, or strong toddler urine smell.  Besides the terrible smell, baby’s bum will be all over red and/or blistered wherever the wet diaper has touched the skin.  Ammonia is most often troublesome with nap or overnight diapers that have been on the bum a long time and are very saturated.  Solution: Keep those diapers off baby’s bum until you’ve dealt with the ammonia issues and make sure the bum is rinsed clean of any ammonia residue.  What’s happening is that your diapers are not getting clean enough in your wash cycle and bacteria, hard water mineral deposits and or soap residues are reacting with the pee/poo to create the problem and the stench.  First rinse your nap and overnight diapers in the sink or bathtub before putting them in your wet bag between washes.  This can help a lot.  Second, get rid of the ammonia you have now by using Funk Rock, a product specifically made to combat ammonia problems.  Then tweak your wash routine and make sure you are using enough detergent to get your diapers really clean and keep them that way.  We can always help you troubleshoot.
  • DIAPERS AREN’T GETTING CLEAN ENOUGH – Similar to ammonia issues, but not quite as severe, if your diapers have any sort of smell to them when newly washed or right away when peed in, they aren’t getting clean enough.  Often referred to as barnyard smell, it signals that there is some kind of bacteria or residue left in your diapers that can cause rashing in the warm moist environment of a diaper.  Solution: Get those diapers clean.  Generally barnyard smell is an indication of not enough detergent.  Don’t skimp on detergent, especially if you have hard water.  Diapers are dirty and they need proper agitation and adequate detergent and water to get really clean.  Read through our other blog articles related to washing diapers, be open to tweaking your wash routine and contact us if you’d like help troubleshooting.  We’re always here to help!

*And finally a quick word on breastmilk…that stuff is amazing in more ways than one.  Dabbing some on baby’s bum regardless of what’s causing the rash and air drying before putting on a new diaper can help soothe redness too.

We hope that helps you clear up your little one’s rash.  Was this info helpful for you?  Have you experienced a rash with your baby that we haven’t covered above?  Let us know by leaving a comment!

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Treating Diaper Rash Without Commercial Ointments or Rash Creams

While babies using cloth diapers generally will experience fewer and milder diaper rashes (if they get a rash at all), they can occur on occasion due to allergies, illness, teething, sensitivities, and for many other reasons not necessarily related to your cloth diapers. Do not use any commercial diaper rash ointments with cloth diapers as this will void any warranties and cause them to repel.

We recommend changing the diaper often and allowing the baby to air dry as much as possible. You can also use cornstarch based baby powder on baby’s bottom to aid in healing. If you need a “paste,” mix the powder with a little bit of water and rub onto the rash to give it more staying power. *Note: do not use cornstarch with a yeast rash*.
coconut oil is also great and safe to use with your cloth diapers as is lanolin if you prefer a nice thick moisture barrier (you know, that stuff you put on your nipples when you’re breastfeeding).  Our personal favorite for helping to heal rashes is Therapeutic Blend Yum Bum Butter by Delish Naturals.  It’s all natural and infused with therapeutic grade essential oils to soothe and speed healing. 

Sometimes though a commercial or prescription ointment or rash cream is necessary and in these cases a liner such as Bummis Bio Soft Liners should be used between baby and the diaper to protect the diaper from the cream.

*Note: if your baby’s rash is persistent, severe, blistered or does not show improvement in a day or two.  Please see your doctor.

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Can I Use Diaper Rash Ointments or Creams With My Cloth Diapers?

Diaper rash ointments and creams can cause diapers to repel and not function properly, especially creams that are zinc oxide based (you know, that white sticky stuff).

If your baby requires the use of these kind of products, you should use them sparingly and pair it with the use a liner such as Bummis Bio Soft Liners between baby and the diaper to make sure none of the cream touches the diaper.

If you mistakenly get diaper rash ointment on your diaper and experience repelling as a result, wash your diapers normally with the hottest water you can get and then apply some dishwashing liquid, like Original Blue Dawn, to the affected area in the sink. Scrub the affected area with a toothbrush or other soft bristle brush. Rinse the diaper out thoroughly to get rid of most of the suds and then wash it again normally with your regular diaper laundry.  While this is a suggested method, it may not always work (depends on the ingredients that were in the cream). Diapers affected by diaper rash ointments are not covered by warranties. (Note: never put Dawn or any other dishwashing liquid in your washing machine).

The good news is that many cloth diapered babies experience little or no diaper rash 🙂

Some excellent cloth diaper safe ointments are available when needed to help soothe and heal rashes.  Therapeutic Blend Delish Naturals Yum Bum Butter is our personal favorite.  What makes them cloth diaper safe is their low melting point (ie. they easily rinse out completely during a hot wash cycle).

You can also try pure lanolin (the stuff you use for sore nipples while breastfeeding), coconut oil or cornstarch based baby powder if the skin on baby’s diaper area needs some temporary healing assistance.

Creams and powders do not need to be used at every change once the rash has cleared. **Do not use cornstarch if baby has a yeast rash**

Also, if you are using disposable wipes and you find baby has a persistent rash, they may be sensitive to the chemicals and preservatives and switching to cloth wipes will solve the problem.  For info on using cloth wipes look here.