Thursday, July 21, 2011

Those red nuisances.

I'm talking about rashes.  I come from a long line of people with sensitive skin issues.  Rashes and red spots are a common occurrence.  I would like to focus more on our experience with rashes and cloth diapering, but I will refer to other experience with rashes too.

As many of you have heard, we had a terrible experience with enzyme burns.  They present themselves as a rash like looking redness that gets bigger and develops into little sores.  From there it can expand and cover like a chemical burn.  The skin is tender to the touch, very large red patches, leathery skin and sometimes blisters.  This happened to us after a month of starting cloth diapers.  To fix the problem, you need to change detergents and thoroughly strip your diapers.  Then let baby have as much air as possible (either by bare bottom time or using a fitted with no cover).  If it's really bad, your Dr. can prescribe a hydro cortisone ointment to apply to the area to heal it quicker.  After having this experience, we almost gave up our cloth diapering attempt altogether.  That's when I started getting online and doing a little more research.  What I learned was that the "Cloth Diaper Safe" free and clear detergent that I bought at Target because a list online told me that it would be 'safe' to use on cloth diapers was actually the culprit.  All mainstream free and clear detergents contain enzymes (Tide, All, Arm and Hammer, etc.).  Some people haven't noticed a problem with using these, but most of the complaints that I hear from parents with rashes or with leaking diaper problems use these types of detergents.  I always urge people to use natural detergents that have no added enzymes.  There are brands that you can buy at Target or your local store.  Two that I know of are Vaska and Dropps Baby.  Both of these are made with all natural ingredients with no added enzymes.  Otherwise, I suggest finding the cloth diaper specific detergent that works with not only your water ph and hardness, but with your wash routine too.  I'm finding that each detergent works differently even though they are made from basically the same stuff.  You can find more information on cloth diaper specific posts here.  I am also working to get a more comprehensive list put together for everyone in the near future!

The next type of bad rash that we had to deal with was an irritation rash.  This was caused by a combination of heat and activity with PUL exposed on the skin.  Little Man would rub and itch the area, causing the rash to persist.  It looked like heat rash at first and then grew to look almost like a yeast rash.  We knew it wasn't a yeast rash though because it was located on the hip and lower abdomen area, not on the sensitive or normally moist areas.  It was also small patches of red bumps.  Hydro cortisone ointment for 2 days on the area cleared it up, along with changing to a different style of diaper.

I've had many parents contact me about other strange rashes.  I am very glad that they contacted me about this because it ends up being the same cause; sensitivity to man made textiles.  This is actually a more common problem than people realize.  It presents itself in different ways.  The most common way is by causing a rash that will not go away in sensitive areas.  Women find out that they have a sensitivity to synthetic fabrics because of an itchy or red area around the bra area.  Babies will show it first in the diaper area when synthetic fabric diapers are used.  The reaction can range anywhere from a redness or small rash that won't go away, even after changing detergents, stripping, and using creams.  It can also get as severe as a large blistery, pussy rash that requires a Dr. visit.  If this type of rash comes on quickly, take your child to the Dr. or ER immediately to avoid any infections.  The only solution to this is to avoid all man made fabrics and stay with 100% cotton or other natural fibers, like hemp.

***I have a big cautionary note about fabrics that claim to be natural.  Rayon, Suede cloth, microfiber, and microterry can never be considered natural no matter what base plant is used!****  I will give you the most common misconception to 'natural fabrics' that fall under this category.  It is Bamboo.  Bamboo that is made into Rayon is not a natural fabric.  It is a man made fabric.  To make Rayon, the cellulose of the plant is used and heavily processed to create a fabric.  There is no natural fiber used from the plant; therefore there are no natural or beneficial properties left to the fabric.  Bamboo is very absorbent and is good to use if there are no sensitivities, but you cannot use Rayon made from Bamboo if your child has a sensitivity to man made fabrics.  Stick with your all natural cotton prefolds with a nice cover, or find one of the few 100% cotton AIO, AI2 or pocket diapers that are made.  I am doing more research into this topic and look forward to being able to share more with you.

There are many creams out there to help aid with diaper rash.  If you use a cream that you buy at the store like A&D, Desitin, or Bag Balm with your cloth diapers please remember to use a liner.  These types of creams have a petroleum jelly base and they will build up on the diapers and cause repelling.  These types of creams are also extremely difficult to remove from cloth diapers, especially microfiber and man made fabrics. Plus, they will void your warranty.  There are companies out there that have made diaper rash creams specifically for use with cloth diapers.  I hear that they will still build up on the diaper, but they are easier to wash or strip out when needed.  Most of these creams use lanolin or aloe, so I haven't tried them because of our allergies to these ingredients.  The only one that I've found to be truly cloth diaper friendly and hypo allergenic is Boo-Hiney Butter.  I'm sure that there are many other creams or ointments out there that I haven't heard of, but this is the one that I really do love.  Another good alternative to helping diaper rash and redness instead of using a cream is Corn Starch.  I swear it works wonders!  We use it on red skin, rashy skin or burned skin.  It works really well on rug burn on bellies when the kids slide down the carpeted stairs too many times or when little crawlers get sore knees.  Just put a little plain corn starch on your fingers and apply to the area.  Plus, there's no need for a liner with corn starch because it washes right out!

I always urge people to use liners when using creams in their diapers.  You can buy disposable liners, like Kushies.  You can also get reusable liners.  I also find that taking an old t-shirt or flannel nightgown and cutting it into strips work well as liners too.

When it comes to rashes, if you are worried about it then it is always worth a trip to the doctor.  They can help out to avoid infections and they can help ease the discomfort.  I know that we all have experienced a rash and redness in one form or another.  I am just so thankful that it is not such a huge issue for Little Man as it was for Sweet Pea and I am so thankful for my modern cloth diapers.



  1. ohmygoodnes!!! this is a blessing to have this post!!!! we are dealing with what i'm thinking is an enzyme rash! i had to use woolite because we ran out of rockin' green and now her rash is so bad it's making ME cry! i bet that's what it is... ok i might try cornstarch tomorrow b/c nothing else is working... i'm stripping as we speak (even diapers i know weren't washed with it - i just want them ALL stripped!)

    thank you!!!!

  2. You are very welcome. I didn't think that one post on rashes could get so long since I was just talking from my experiences, but I could have written two or three posts on the subject! Rashes are so hard to deal with and I think it's harder on the Moms and Dads sometimes, but it happens to everyone. Good luck with the stripping and I hope it clears up soon. Air time helps tremendously too. You can also email me at obsessionsottw at if you have any questions or just want to chat!


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