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Curing Diaper Rash

The following is written by LifeasMOM contributor, Lauren:

If you have a little one, it is almost inevitable that he will battle diaper rash at some point. Whether it is diaper rash as a side effect from medicine or from a reaction to certain diapers, it can be a tough problem to cure.

While there are many good diaper creams on the market, there are also some simple things you can do to make diaper rash less painful for your little one.

Ways to Combat Simple Diaper Rash

Skip the Disposable Wipes

While diaper wipes are ultra convenient, they are filled with chemicals. When using them on broken skin, the wipes can irritate the skin further and cause a reaction that looks like a burn – and feels like one too! Disposable Wipes seem to only make diaper rash worse because they don’t give the skin a chance to heal.

Use Warm Water and Gentle Soap

Instead of using disposable wipes on bums with diaper rash, simply use plain warm water on a clean washcloth. If you need to use soap, only use a small amount of gentle “baby” soap. The fewer soaps, detergents and chemicals on your baby’s skin during this time, the better.

Use a Barrier Cream

Choose a good barrier cream that has an ample amount of zinc oxide. Be faithful in using it every time a diaper is changed.

Change Your Baby Often

Babies should have their diapers changed often – every couple of hours at least. Even though most modern disposable diapers are made to hold 6-8 hours of urine doesn’t mean that they should. The more frequently a baby is changed, the quicker simple diaper rash will heal.

photo source

But what about the kind of diaper rash that doesn’t respond to diaper creams? Or using plain warm water at changing time?

Here are two great tricks we use to treat the more difficult type of diaper rash when it shows up at our house. You know the kind: the rash that comes when a baby is taking antibiotics or has loose stools during a stomach bug. It can be heartbreaking to change diapers when it hurts your little one so terribly!

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is my go-to resource when battling a really bad case of diaper rash. Its healing properties haven’t failed me yet! Here’s my method:

Each time I change a diaper, I wash the baby’s bottom with a mixture of warm water and baking soda. I dissolve 2-3 heaping tablespoons of baking soda in about 3-4 cups of water and then dip my washcloth in the solution prior to washing the baby’s skin. Then I use another dry washcloth and lightly pat the skin dry before fastening the diaper. Don’t rub the skin dry, as you want the baking soda solution to stay on the skin to decrease acidity.

If I know that I’m going to need the baking soda solution all day, I make a batch in the morning and place it in an old wipes container and out of reach of my other littles. If you choose to make one
container for the day, make sure you use a clean, dry washcloth each time you use your solution to avoid contaminating it.

Also, at bath time I bathe the baby in a baking soda bath. I use about 1 full cup of baking soda in a bath tub of water. Pour the baking soda into the tub and dissolve while filling the tub with warm water. Again, make sure to pat the skin dry as to not rub off the baking soda.

photo source

Liberally use Lanolin

Mothers tend to think of lanolin in relation to the early days of breastfeeding. But it has so many other healing and soothing properties! It is an excellent skin barrier and can safely be used on broken skin where other creams cannot.

To use lanolin, squirt a small dime-size amount on the ends of your fingers and “work it” between your fingers a few moments. The heat of your skin will make it more pliable and easy to work with. After it becomes more elastic, simply dab it onto your baby’s skin. Put it on anywhere the baby’s skin needs protection. This is an especially good product to use at night time when your baby won’t be changed as
often.

When to See the Doctor

Some cases of diaper rash just can’t be treated at home. Occasionally they can progress into yeast or a secondary infection. If you have concerns about your baby’s diaper rash not healing or not responding to your treatment at home, go ahead and give your pediatrician a call.

What’s YOUR cure?

Do your babies have experience with frequent diaper rash? What have you found to be the best at-home treatment methods?

Lauren Hill is the ‘Mama’ behind Mama’s Learning Corner, a site that features all kinds of educational ideas and tips as well as free printable worksheets. She is the mom of four young children and loves to learn alongside them.

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Comments

  1. We have only had one really severe diaper rash here, and I found all of the above to be SO true. By following the steps above, we nixed it in under 24 hours. The most effective ointment that we used was Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.

    • I am a huge Butt Paste fan- it works wonders! My son has been having loose stools to accompany teething, so his little bum got very red and irritated. Butt Paste took care of it in less than 24 hours. I give Butt Paste to new moms as shower gifts all the time. It is worth the extra expense.

  2. My oldest had diaper rash CONSTANTLY. She had a lot of allergies (check for that if your baby has a frequent rash) and she had sensitive skin. My ultimate best solution was a homemade cream with coconut oil, beeswax, and a few other ingredients. The recipe is on my blog. When even a prescription cream couldn’t touch it, I came up with that. Usually cured it overnight.

    • I went to your link and I cannot find the recipe. would you link me please? thank you! I use cocout oil, and tea tree oil.

  3. My daughter had a bad diaper rash once and our doctor proscribed an ointment. When we got to the pharmacy, they told me it would be 24 hours before it was ready, but that I could make it on my own at home. Use equal parts Aquafore and liquid Maalox (or any type of brand), squish it together in a plastic baggie until mixed and apply. It worked WONDERS!!!!!!!! I always had some on hand in a tupperware container. I swear by it!

    • I totally forgot about Maalox. I worked as an RN for 10 years and this was a frequent doctor’s order for hard to treat diaper rashes. I haven’t thought about that treatment in a long time!

      I’m not sure of the rationale, but they required Cherry Flavored Maalox in the hospital. They said Mint (or other flavors) don’t work as effectively.

      Glad you mentioned it!

      -Lauren

    • We battled blistery baby bottom for 2 months as we attempted to figure out cause, stripping diapers, reducing (and prepared to eliminate) milk from nursing mama’s diet, various creams, the bare butt, rotating between tea tree mix to battle the yeast to calendula when there was broken skin, etc. A friend suggested the diaper cream/pepto mix as recommended by her doctor several years ago- immediately results within hours and gone in 3 days totally.

  4. When diaper rashes are bright red and slightly raised, that’s a yeast rash. If baby has a yeast rash, it’s likely that mom does, too.

    If you are breastfeeding, take acidophilus yourself, and don’t eat sugar. This will help cut the yeast in your own system and baby will get the acidophilus in your milk. I found this usually works within a day to cure diaper rash caused by yeast.

    This trick also works with bottle fed babies, but be sure to use a baby acidophilus and mix it into the bottle.

    Lastly, I sprinkle acidophilus directly on the rash. And I let them go without a diaper (put them on a pad you don’t mind washing) so their sore cheeks can get some air.

    By combating an overgrowth of yeast in the early years, you enable good intestinal health in baby’s future.

  5. Thanks for the baking soda tip! That’s a new one to me.

    When zinc oxide isn’t working, I usually turn to A&D ointment. It’s thicker, like lanolin. My doctor also recommends a mixture of zinc oxide cream and bacitracin, which is an antibiotic.

    When I have a baby with a rash, I set an alarm on my phone and check their diaper every hour. As a homchooling mom of 4, I often get very busy and forget, so the alarm is a great way to make sure I’m on top of the rash.

  6. We used A&D or the longest time but hated the smell. Then discovered Baby Aquaphor by Eucerin… Cures diaper rash within hours.

  7. My daughter had terrible diaper rash – to the point that she required two pediatrician appointments. The doctor wanted her to be seen by a pediatric dermatologist! The wait was 3 months! As I was getting another prescription filled, I mentioned the story to the pharmacist, a mom of two.
    “Have you tried changing the brand of diapers you use?” she asked.
    I had been using Pampers; she suggested Huggies.
    Before I left the store, I bought a pack.
    Two days later, my daughter’s terrible rash was gone, never to reappear.
    I cancelled the specialist appointment!

  8. From an accidental expert:
    We’re huge fans of Aveeno diaper rash cream, Aquaphor, and as a last resort, prescription Nystatin (for diaper rash coming from a yeast-infection).

    I LOVE baking soda for cleaning–how did I not know it worked for diaper rash too? I’ll definitely be trying that next time. Thanks, Lauren!

  9. You are going to think I am crazy, but we had a very bad diaper rash and made a trip to the doctor to make sure that is was not a yeast or other infection. My doctor is not afraid to think outside the box and use other methods besides “medicine”.

    She told us to go by “bag balm”. She said some construction workers use it for severe chapped hands in the winter.

    I went to Walmart and asked the pharmacist where it was. She knew exactly what i was asking for and said it worked, then she directed me to the pet department. YES you find it in the pet department. It works wonders, I now use it if regular diaper ointment doesn’t do the job after one or two tries. Never fails. It doesn’t look or smell pretty, but it works.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      You’re not crazy. I’ve bought it in the pharmacy of Target and at other drug stores.

    • Bag Balm is all I will use! I have tried every over the counter brand of diaper cream, some of them work (sometimes, but not all the time) and depending on the rash my baby will scream as soon as it touches his skin from it burning. Bag balm doesnt bother him no matter what type of rash. He has yeast rashes not often than any others and it always works…..it will be gone over night!

      Side note; I have always used it in the winter time on my feet and hands! Put it on thick with a pair of socks when you go to bed. Your feet are healed, soft and feel great in the morning! :)

  10. I am receptionist in a doctors office and one of the patients (ex nurse) informed me that vinegar is one of the best things for diaper rashes and sunburns. I have never tried this myself.

  11. We haven’t had to deal with diaper rash yet as we’re still T-4 weeks for our little guy, but everything I’ve read suggests the diapers play a huge role. You addressed this in the first part of the article but never actually suggest trying different diapers :) My research has shown disposables are a huge cause of diaper rash so I’d say along with not using disposable wipes, ditch the disposable diapers if using them. If using a cloth diaper, try a new brand and examine your washing procedure – are you using too much/wrong soap?

    I’ll have to save this page to refer to if I ever need to try some of these remedies for our baby. There’s a lot of helpful info here!

    • Cloth diapers and diaper rash are an entirely new post, so I didn’t go there with this one. :) There are different “rules” for diaper rash and cloth diapers and I couldn’t do it justice in this one post.

      But I agree, if you are battling diaper rash and using cloth dipes, a thorough look at your washing routine is helpful. Also, using all-natural fibers on your baby’s bum can help alleviate it also.

  12. We used warm wet paper towels instead of wipes and my girls rarely had diaper rash. Also, when they did we used equal parts Maalox, AD ointment and desitin mixed and spread on. It would clear up really quick and protect their bottoms through the night time as well!

  13. coconut oil is awesome on rashes–including yeast-y rashes. And it won’t stain your cloth diapers like most commercially made diaper creams.

  14. My father taught me this wonderful no fail solution, albeit tedious.

    When battling a diaper rash, wash the baby in the sink with warm water and gentle soap or gentle hand soap. Then lay baby down on a towel and use a blow dryer on low heat and gently dry baby.
    At that point I swear by plain old A&D ointment as a barrier, although I like the lanolin suggestions too.
    Repeat the process every diaper change, and make sure to change frequently. The point is to keep baby’s skin as dry as possible. This has always worked like a charm for my babies, and I guess on my bum as a baby to :)

    I too have had to change brands of disposable diapers as well. It’s always worth a try when dealing with irritation and/or rash.

    Thanks for the tip on baking soda. Ill definitely be adding it to my arsenal.

    • I use a hair dryer, too, on the stubborn rashes! My pediatrician suggested it. My chubby baby #3 had some stubborn rashes, especially in the folds of her skin. I would wipe her with a warm wet washcloth, use the hair dryer on low for several seconds until she was completely dry, then use Aquaphor. The rashes were gone within a couple of changes.

    • Please DO NOT use a hair dryer on your baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I myself was trying this and accidentally switched to high heat and my little angel suffered a burn that required a skin graft! Accidents happen and this is not worth the risk!

  15. I make homemade wipes and we rarely, if ever, have diaper rash. 1 empty folgers coffee (or similar round) container, cut 1 roll of bounty in half (I use an electric knife), 2 cups of water microwaved for 4 minutes, add 1 Tbsp baby wash, and 1 Tbsp baby oil to hot water and pour it over the bounty in the coffee container. Let soak at least 20 minutes, then pull core out of center and pull wipes from center. Sometimes I add a couple drops tea tree oil for its antiseptic properties.

    • I do this for face wash, never though about it for baby wipes! I am just under 5 weeks until baby comes, I think I may do this! Thank you!

  16. I don’t know if they still make it or not, but Mary Kay Extra Emollient Night Cream (which actually was more the consistency of vaseline and was pink 18 years ago) was AMAZING for diaper rash!!!

    • While I still had some, we used the Mary Kay Hand Cream from the Satin Hands set and it did well when we used disposables. We don’t use them any more though, switched to cloth to save money.

  17. Christine says:

    After gently cleansing, dab MAALOX on the rash with a cotton ball after each diaper change and turn your hair dryer on its lowest heat setting and dry the MAALOX for 15-30 seconds. Works like a charm :)

  18. If I don’t have money I use corn starch… I just put it on until things have “dried” up and then I rub a bit of coconut oil on to help put the moisture back in. If I do have money I will buy the Earth Momma Angel Baby diaper rash product. It works perfectly every time and its all natural. LOVE it and its on sale at amazon.com right now :)

  19. This is wonderful advice! My baby is dealing with a little bit of diaper rash right now, and I hate to see him in pain, so I am excited to try these remedies! I use cloth diapers, will the lanolin or baking soda affect the absorbency of the diapers?

    • Jennifer, definitely do NOT use the lanolin with cloth diapers. It will make them repel like crazy. You can use lanolin with cloth only if you use some type of liner between your baby’s bum and the cloth diaper. I’ve used everything from an old thin washcloth to old cloth wipes. You’ll have a bear of a time getting the lanolin off if it ever gets on the fibers of the diaper.

      But you can use the baking soda days on end and it won’t cause any trouble with your dipes.

  20. Our pediatrician suggested using cotton swabs dipped in olive oil in place of wipes during bad rashes. The olive oil lubricates and makes it less harsh on the baby’s rear when you’re wiping. It seems to cause my DD to get less upset about getting the diaper changed, but it is a bit hard to do.

  21. We used both cloth diapers and wipes w/warm water, and our rashes were few/mild, but whenever they flared up I just used breast milk. Apply, let dry, and close fresh dry diaper. I had some diaper creams (more to use when someone else was changing them, or if they were sick) but most of the time breast milk did the trick!

    I found it helpful to have baby out of a diaper for a while, too (on top of waterproof layers, of course…)

  22. It is very interesting to hear all these responses and I so wished I had them when mine were babies. I had 3 kids, each with different rashes that would respond to different solutions! While much of the trouble was due to food allergies, one of the treatments I used was not on the list so I thought I would chime in. She had the broken skin and bleeding kind of diaper rash. When explaining what was going on to my neighbor she recommended Burnt flour. You take a cup of flour, put it in a cast iron pan or skillet on medium high heat and burn it. Stir while cooking and expect to smell a horrible smell while it reaches the color of cocoa powder. With my first child this remedy worked wonders but didn’t do a thing for the last 2! They didn’t have as severe a rash as my first.

  23. One thing that worked for my older babies (and my elderly grandfather as he became less mobile) – was yogurt. I got it at the health food store. My kids usually only got rashes if it was an intestinal issue – dealing w/a new food, too much fruit. I would have them eat 2-3 servings a day (I stayed with vanilla flavored) and I would warm up a spoonful for each diaper rash (separate container purchased for the topical treatment LOL) and apply it to their skin. Let it dry some and then put on a clean diaper. This also worked for a lady I met who was taking her daughter to a specialist for yeast infections. And another friend who had taken her young toddler in and the dr prescribed something that she just couldn’t bring herself to administer. I LOVE natural remedies, and this page is full of wonderful things to try!! And someone else said it and was SO right – what works on 1 may not work on another.

    • Denise – Yes! The comments on this post are just a gold mine of things to try. It’s frustrating to not be able to find the right “cure” for your child’s diaper rash. Thankfully, lots of mothers have chimed in to share what works for them.

      Agreed – what works on one very well may not work on another!

  24. Having diapered seven children, the best healing cream I’ve found is calendula cream.

  25. My neice is almost healed up after 6-WEEKS of painful rash and more. They did all the barriers (crisco amazingly being what always healed their other kids rashes) for three weeks before heading to Urgent Care. The doctor thought it was the sposies by the breakout pattern and said, “use cloth diapers until she heals,” and gave a scrip (not sure what). She didn’t get better. Mom and Dad figure out IT WAS THE WIPES! (They had been cleansing her extra carefully, of course.) Niece is getting better until someone gives her CASHEWS for the the first time. Vomiting, swelling lips, benadryl happen and the next morning a diaperful of them that left her private parts covered with horrible, large blisters. She is almost healed more that six weeks later with a combo of benadryl initially, the scrip, pampers unscented, hypoallergic and cloth wipes, and TRIPLE PASTE at home and lanolin spray on the road. Ouch!

  26. I found all of the remedies marketed as being for diaper rashes to sting a rashy baby’s bottom. With our 6th child, we discovered plain coconut oil. It doesn’t have the barrier protection, but it has wonderful healing properties and doesn’t sting as it is being applied. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties, so it helps with yeast rashes, as well. We now keep a container of it at the changing table at all times!

    I am getting ready to potty train my 8th child now. We went through a period of time where even the coconut oil wasn’t working, and then I realized that it was the Huggies diapers (that I had used with my other babies without a problem) and wipes that I was using. I switched to Pampers Baby Dry diapers and Pampers Sensitive Skin wipes, and the rash finally cleared up.

    Isn’t it amazing how each child is different? :-)

  27. We had success with Triple Paste for diaper rash and also rashes from bathing suits in the ocean water. It would clear these up overnight it seemed. When my kids were babies, I would also let them “air out” on some thick towels on the floor each day if they seemed rash-y – that always helped.

  28. All of my kids and the ones that I keep can’t use the wipes from the store either. We use homemade wipe made with half of a papet towel roll, baby soap and baby oil and water. This keeps them clean, but no irritation!

  29. My go to solutions have always been cornstarch (I would imagine its similar to using baking soda), then if it doesnt go away a healthy dose of Aveeno Diaper Cream and Penaten. The cornstarch is known to make yeast-related rashes worse, so if I dont see things clearing up in a day or so, I switch to the Aveeno.
    Penaten at every change while the rash is around.

  30. My go-to cure for diaper rash was to put a cup of epsom salts in the bath. It always worked wonders, and I found that it was comforting to me when I had a yeast infection or postpartum hemorrhoids.

  31. Triple paste and Aveeno’s Diaper Rash creme has been my favorite so far. Also the recipe we tell our patients at the peds office is equal part cornstarch and vaseline or aquafore mixed with maalox until it makes a creamy consitency. seems to work pretty well…i prefer the stuff in the tube just to cut down on the mess, but in a pinch or a severe case this seems to work well.

  32. After trying everything out there, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste is the only thing I will use now. I have a two year old who is starting to potty train but I am still stocking up on it when I find a good deal. Gotta get ready for whenever God sends us another little angel or for baby basket gifts.

  33. I raised four children and agree that the simplest way to do things is usually the best.
    When at home I used warm water and half of a clean paper towel to clean their bottoms. We just used wipes when we were away from home. Diaper rash was a very rare occurrence in our home.

  34. Colloidal Silver is the best EVER!

  35. When I recognize the rash as a yeast infection, I use generic monistat (the 7day version). Just a few applications is enough for my kids. (disclaimer – this may make some drs cringe, but I don’t like spending time and money on an appointment for a dr to tell me what I already know)

  36. My “babies” are 12 1/2 and 14, but my go-to cure for bad diaper rash was Aquaphor. My daughter had very sensitive skin & was prone to bleeding rashes. I couldn’t use anything with zinc in it because she’d scream until I got it off. My older brother told me to slather on the Aquaphor and it never failed me.

  37. I’ve had success with several of the suggestions above, but regardless of which one you use, try cleaning/wiping the baby first with wet, warm cotton balls. Dry skin thoroughly (gently blot, air dry, or use hair dryer on low) and then apply the cream of your choice. The cotton balls are so much more gentle on the baby’s skin compared to anything else.

  38. Thanks for the tips. My son has pretty much chronic diaper rash because of his syndrome and it’s hard to get it to go away. It comes back consistently. I’ve been looking for some new ideas to try. This looks like a good one.

  39. Ladies thx so much for your wealth of advice. I left home for four days holiday at my sis and forgot my baby girl’s desitin. Two days later severe diaper rash. I am now using some unscented baby powder with mixed in baking soda as she was ready for bed and didn’t want to bathe her again. Gonna do more baking soda washes in the morn, use olive oil and maybe even try the burnt flour as I’m going based on what I can find in my sister’s kitchen to match the various suggestions. I hate seeing my baby girl so uncomfortable. Desitin ussually works like a charm to keep it away for us and extra strength desitin to get rid of it. Pampers wipes and diapers are the only ones that work for her. Tried huggies and it was a disaster! Thx for all your advice. Hope it helps over the next two days till I can get to my house or a pharmacy. Easter holidays with most stores and pharmacies closed is hard on baby’s bum :(

  40. When my boys were in the NICU they used Sensicare. It’s the thickest cream I’ve found but it’s hard to find! It does work great to help coat the area and keep it coated to heal. http://www.amazon.com/ConvaTec-325614-SENSI-CARE-BARRIER-4OZ/dp/B000VWSL94/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1354333222&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=sensi+care+diaper+rash

  41. My daughter was sensitive to even the most sensitive wipes. I tried for 5 days without using wipes at all (except for BM’s which then I used butt paste) and the rash cleared up.

  42. Kristin says:

    I typically use the purple destin for my boy. However, when the rash is bad the destin stings really really bad. I started using antibiotic ointment with vasoline. It doesn’t burn and it helps heal it. I also soak his bottom in baking soda or Destins oatmeal soak for rashes. Both work wonders but of course baking soda is cheaper and it isn’t harmful if water is swallowed or gets in the eyes. My doctor told me that when he gets diarrhea to use a probiotic. I recommend cultural in the powder packets. The probiotics replace the good bacteria that is lost during loose stools. This can help with the duration of diarrhea. I keep some in my house at all times now. It really does work!! It is a little pricey at about $18.00 a box but the box lasts awhile!!

  43. I cannot believe no one has posted anything about ARGO corn starch. My baby was so red on the bottom that I tried everything the dr. told me. My best friend kept telling me to sprinkle ARGO on him…Finally, I listened and the next day the rash was gone..Its an old remedy.

  44. Thank you all so much for all this advice. I will have to start trying some of it on my son. He isn’t prone to diaper rashes, but he has one now that brings us both to tears. Here’s hoping something works and saves us a trip to the doctor.

  45. Stephanie says:

    My 15 month old has the worst diaper rash I’ve ever experienced, which started 3 days after finishing a course of antibiotics. I mean, we’re talking bleeding raw, skin sloughing rash! I’d been using baby powder, A&D, Desitin, all to no avail. Called Peds office for advice and they recommended neosporin, Desitin and aquaphor layered. Tried that for 2 days and just couldn’t stand it anymore! I was crying harder than she was at diaper changes! Took her in to see Peds. They recommended starting probiotics. I’m assuming, given the history of the antibiotic course, that her good bacteria was wiped out! They also recommended baking soda baths (1/4 cup per tub once a day, but I did 1/3 cup and I think I will even try more, at least twice a day). Lastly they said to make a paste using equal parts mupiricin (an antibiotic ointment), triple paste and cortisone 10. I think the steroid might have burned the first time I used it but doesn’t seem to bother her much with each subsequent application. I also do the warm water/soap washes in the sink after BMs, and the hair dryer on low on the counter. And the Dr. also approved when I asked about dabbing on maalox. At work we used to make butt paste that consisted of maalox, zinc and aquaphor, which worked like magic! (Interesting side note: I could not find maalox at 2 pharmacies! Only in combination with other products, so I bought di-gel with 40mg simethicone.) …. I very much like the idea of the lanolin! I have an old unfinished tube and was wondering what to do with it! … Here’s hoping we see some improvement in the next 24-48 hrs! … Thanks for this article and everyone else’s words of wisdom!

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