Curing the Dreaded Diaper Rash

After putting it in writing that my daughter didn’t have a diaper rash, that very night she had her first bout with the worst diaper rash our family has seen.  I know we have seen far worse cases, but not in our little family.  We’re generally rash-free ’round here parts.

She couldn’t sleep, and neither could mama.  The next morning after really assessing the rash, I did my habitual panicking and feeling total desperation in my desire to relieve her instantaneously. That lasted exactly one minute before motherly instincts kicked in and I tried everything I knew how to help the red, raw, and raised delicate skin.  After the next diaper change proved to be worse than previous ones, I knew I had to rethink traditional treatments for diaper rashes and research my options.

I have learned that not all diaper rashes are the same (obviously some are fungal and some are bacterial).  The very same rash on Baby A may not respond to the same treatment as the rash on Baby B.  For us, the traditional or more commercial diaper rash creams and ointments (Desitin, Boudreaux, etc.) do not work.   That’s when I began my quest – I wrote, interviewed, and researched mothers everywhere in every nation.  Okay, maybe just my FaceBook friends and the world wide web, but they are all very knowledgeable and I’m sure that they have rich heritages that stretch far across the globe.

It’s been almost two days and she is nearly cured, which makes me an instant expert on the matter.  😉  And after all my newfound research and advice, I wanted to supply a list of the better suggestions, so that other moms didn’t have to go through the same investigating I had.

Here are some general guidelines and a few of the non-traditional recommendations that the moms provided (including a few I tossed in all on my own, since I am such an expert now). Feel free to give one a shot and report back here how it worked out for you.

  • You generally want to keep the area dry but at the same time moisturized (I know that doesn’t make any sense and seems to be almost an oxymoron at first glance, but trust me on this one).
  • Frequently change diapers, so as not to allow urine or stool contact the skin for prolonged periods.  Before putting on another diaper, make sure the area is completely dry.
  • In fact, if possible, go diaper-less.  The open-air exposure and even brief exposure to sunlight has been some of the best and timeless measures to prevent and cure diaper rashes.
  • Do not use anything that has alcohol as an ingredient.  This includes wipes, soaps, and lotions.  Yes, most lotions contain alcohols for quick skin absorption.
  • Use warm, wet washcloths or cloth wipes in place of disposable wipes.
  • Avoid rubbing the area excessively (or at all if you can help it).  If you do have a sticky mess, rather than aggressively rubbing it off with a wet washcloth, try using a non-sticky, gel-like barrier (something like Vaseline) to aid in wiping off messes.
  • Get out the bath toys but hold back the bubbles!  Allow the baby to sit in a warm bath (not hot, as this is also drying) twice a day for several minutes, as this seems to be the most alleviating method.  Don’t use any bubble baths (they are drying and irritating to the skin), but you could use an oatmeal treatment (Aveeno or a homemade version of 1 cup of ground up oatmeal) or just plain water.  Don’t use soap both times, and again, avoid soaps with alcohol.
  • After the bath, pat the area dry with a towel and allow your child to go diaper-less for a little while to assure dryness.  You can also (very cautiously) use a hair dryer on a low and cool setting.
  • Gently administer some sort of ointment to trap moisture and promote healing.  (Insert your favorite ointment or cream here.)  Here are a few lesser known ones:
  1. Coconut oil
  2. Crisco shortening
  3. Lanolin (like Lanisoh)
  4. Calmoseptine
  5. Or a little concoction that a doctor in our family personally uses with his kids.  (Thanks Dr. Dan!)  He calls it the “greatest diaper rash cream.”  (Creative, huh?)  Mix in equal parts 1% hydrocortisone cream (or 1% cortaid), Polysporin (or Neosporin, though Polysporin is preferred), and Lotramin AF (or Clotrimazole). Apply to the affected area 2-3 times daily for up to 1-2 weeks.

Obviously if the diaper rash gets worse or is not getting better within a couple of days, it may be fungal, an allergic reaction, or your child may have secondary reaction to a treatment.  In that case, seek medical advice.

Thanks to all the mothers (and father) that provided this helpful information!

Disclaimer: Try these remedies at your own risk.  Remember that we are not medical professionals and this does not take the place of any professional medical advice. Consult your own doctor for your particular case.

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  1. 1

    We had the worst time with diaper rash when our daughter hit about 12 months old and it seemed like nothing we tried would work. Then one of my friends recommended a really simple rash oil that cleared everything up in just a couple days…

    1/2 cup of sweet almond oil
    2-3 drops of tea tree oil
    2-3 drops of lavender oil
    4 tablespoons of water

    I put it all into a small spray bottle and just spritz it onto the area whenever I change her diaper.

  2. 2

    I always use Bag Balm (also known as Tit Salve). It comes in a green cube-like container. As the name suggests, it’s for cow’s udders! But my mother used it on all of us!

  3. 3

    Of course, using any of the ointments mentioned are no-no’s when cloth diapering. My daughter had a really bad spell with yeast rashes, which were soooooooo difficult to get rid of! I initially used ointments with reusable liners and then (duh, mommy-brain) washed them with the diapers. That caused terrible leaking issues with the diapers. And the ointment just leaked right through the flushable liners, uggggg! Thankfully, I discovered Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm and all has been great since then!

  4. 4

    I will have to try that Tiffany. Thanks. I have heard that Tea tree oil is great for healing and lavender is of course good for soothing, but I didn’t know the right amounts!

  5. 5

    We actually have EMAB and love it, but this rash was not going to be budged by EMAB. We also cloth diaper, so if you do use any of the no-no creams, you will definitely need a liner, move to disposables for a while or go with diapers. You can use the coconut oil with cloth diapers, though.

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