So, you’ve been doing this for a while now… you have the whole cloth diaper thing down pat, but suddenly, you’re thrown through a loop… your baby has a diaper rash! And as you will soon discover, cloth diapers and traditional diaper rash creams are NOT besties. Hopefully our upcoming series on rashes we will help you get to the root of the problem (what is causing this evilness anyway?) and some cloth-safe, natural solutions.
I cloth diaper… my baby isn’t supposed to get a rash!
When cloth diapering, you’re able to avoid the rashes that can come from the harmful chemicals found in disposable diapers, however there are a few other things that may irritate your baby’s delicate skin and today we are going to discuss what to do if and when the hideous yeast infection rears its ugly head.
Yeast infections might make an appearance after a round of antibiotics for baby or for a breastfeeding mommy. Antibiotics don’t discriminate when killing bacteria and often leave the patient with insufficient “good” bacteria in their bowels. When the “good” bacteria isn’t around to balance things out, yeast, which we all have and is completely normal, may get out of hand and cause an infection. Yeast usually attacks weak skin and loves to live and grow in damp, warm places, which is why the diaper area, inside the mouth and a nursing mom’s nipples (where it is then called Thrush) are the perfect places for yeast (also known as Candida) to manifest itself.
Change in diet can also lead to yeast infestations (again, for baby or for mom)— foods high in citrus, dairy, or gluten can upset the balance of “good” bacteria in your baby’s intestines.
If baby already has a diaper rash, with inflamed or broken skin, they are more likely to get a yeast infection.
How do I know if it is a yeast rash?
A yeast rash may start out looking similar to a diaper rash caused by urine or feces. It will start out red, irritated, and raised. There may be areas of the centrally located rash that has fluid beneath the skin. The tell tale sign of a yeast rash versus other rashes is the presence of satellite pustules. These pustules will be smaller, fluid filled, sores that will appear around the larger rash. These pustules may blister and pop leaving open sores and a greater risk for further infection.
This sounds serious! What do I do?!?!
First off, let’s talk about fighting off the yeast infection itself. Many parents like to treat their baby’s bottom with a prescription antibiotic cream and switch to disposable diapers until the infection has cleared. If you and your pediatrician decide to take this route the infection should clear up in days, however you will want to treat your cloth diapers so you do not re-infect your baby. You should also wait at least a week after the last of the rash is gone before switching back over to your cloth diapers, unless you want to disinfect them after each use. The yeast can continue to live on your baby’s bottom for up to a week after the rash is gone so be careful what comes in to contact with the diaper area and disinfect appropriately.
If you want to keep using your cloth diapers through the course of the infection, it is totally possible but you will want to take some extra precautions. If you use a prescription antibiotic you will want to make sure your diapers are lined with a liner that protects the cloth. This can be a disposable liner, a stay-dry fleece liner, or an old cut up piece of fabric. Whatever you use as the liner will likely need to be thrown out after it has been used. Most antibiotic creams do not wash out of cloth very easily.
Want to treat the yeast without antibiotics? Oh yes, it is possible!!! The tried and true method from the mom behind Smart Bottoms is yogurt! I know, it sounds weird, but she swears it works. Yogurt has the “good” bacteria which fights yeast really well. Make sure you choose a yogurt that is unflavored and does not have any sugar (yeast loves sugar). All you have to do is generously apply your baby’s diaper area with cold yogurt (this will also help soothe). Reapply at every diaper change. Yogurt is also completely cloth safe, so no need to line your diapers with anything special. You will want to make sure your diapers are disinfected after every use if you continue to use cloth throughout the infection period.
Next, let’s get rid of the yeast that’s hanging out in those diapers!
Please don’t use bleach. A lot of people will tell you to, but just… don’t. Not only is bleach itself not good for your baby’s bottom, but it merely kills the active yeast, not yeast spores. Grapefruit seed extract is your ticket out of Yeast-Ville… it’s natural and safe, and it really fights off those yucky yeast spores. Add no more than a teaspoon to your yeasty laundry load. Also, throw in a few drops of tea tree oil for good measure. Continue to treat your diapers in this way every time they are used for AT LEAST a week after the yeast infection has cleared.
We recommend you throw in an extra rinse at the end, just to make sure there is nothing left in your diapers that could irritate.
After you wash your diapers, lay them out in the sun for a couple of hours. Even if it is too cold out to dry your diapers, the UV rays are still there. You can even let them sun in front of a window if you don’t feel like braving the snow. Finishing drying in the dryer. Check out our previous blog post all about the power of the sun for more useful info (http://bit.ly/HpSxW9).
So… we hope we’ve shed some light on this subject. Of course, every experience varies because not every baby’s bottom is the same. We’d love to hear about some of your experiences with the Yeast Beast and tips that you have found to be helpful! Happy diapering!