Diaper Rash and Cloth Diapers

Archived Q&A and Reviews

6-month-old's rashes cleared up while we were using disposables

Aug 2003

My 6-month-old son has had recurring diaper rashes with cloth diapers (from a service), including a stubborn yeast rash that developed. While on vacation this summer we had to use Huggies and found that all the rashes cleared up very well. I thought I was being pretty scrupulous about the cloth changes, but now am not sure what I am doing wrong. Does anyone have advice about preventing diaper rash with cloth diapers? Rashy

Try using fleece liners in the diapers, especially for overnight. They help keep the baby feeling dry, even when they are wet. I've been using cloth on my 18m old daughter since she arrived home from the hospital and never had a rash last more than 1-2 days. Maybe the fleece liners will help your child.

Also, talk to your cloth diaper provider. Sometimes they can alter the washing method and it may be the detergent (or bleach?) that they use that is causing problems. I wash my own, so I can't comment on this directly. But a friend who uses a service said that their service offers a ''gentler wash'' on request.

I used cloth diapers with both of my children (service diapers for the first and our own diapers for the second). Both children developed rashes from wearing the diapers at night (and they also reeked of ammonia), even when I tried fancy cloth inserts to absorb excess moisture. When I switched to disposibles at night, the rashes cleared.

The other, very practical tip is to slather plain old vaseline jelly all over the baby's bottom throughout the day and night to create a barrier to the moisture that builds up. That helped our kids enormously, especially during excessively poopy times (like when they had the stomach flu). And it's really important to change cloth diapers more often than you might change disposibles- -but you probably already know that. davis

I've used cloth diapers on both my kids and haven't had this problem, but I know people who have. The explanation has usually been that the baby's skin is so sensitive to urine remaining on the skin that they get a rash even though you change often. Since the disposables absorb urine instantly and turn it into gel, this doesn't happen.

If you're committed to cloth--and good for you if you are!--and you find it impractical to change the baby the instant he pees, you might try a fleece liner or diaper doubler. The fleece stays next to the skin but feels dry, and the liquid passes through into the cotton/absorbent part of the diaper.

Not sure it will work, just a suggestion. Best of luck, Virginia

Cloth diapers, as soon as they get wet, hold the wetness next to the baby's skin for however long the diaper is on. If your child has sensitive skin, the constant presence of urine on the skin will be a neverending source of irritation. You can try slathering him up with a non-water-soluable protective coating like Desitin etc. But personally I would just switch to paper. The paper diapers have a core of absorbent stuff that draws the urine away from the surface, so the baby's skin stays dry. Plus the pores aren't all clogged up with ointment all the time.

We used cloth diapers for my oldest son, and he constantly had rashes, including ugly bleeding sores, even though I was very religious about changing his diapers constantly and using a protective ointment. It was awful, poor baby, it really hurt. Despite ointment and long stretches of no diaper to dry out his skin, we really did not see an improvement until we changed to disposable diapers. It seems like some kids are just really sensitive to being constantly wet. Ginger

Try mixing cornstarch & mylanta liquid (we used the minty kind) into a creamy paste & applying to your baby's bottom. Our wonderful pediatrician, Bruce Horwitz, recommended this to us & it worked!! Hope it works for you too. Good luck!! Mayumi

When my cloth-diapered son had a recurring rash, the culprit turned out to be the cloth wipes I was keeping in water in a wipes warmer. I switched to room temperature disposable wipes and voila! no more rash! Hope this helps! Catherine

It may be because you left the cloth diapers on too long on your baby. It could be a number of things, including the cleaning process which your diaper service uses. You may want to check out this group, which talks mainly about cloth diapering: http://www.ovusoft.com/forum/tm.asp?m=1735634=1=1 and post your questions there. They are all very helpful. anon

The best thing is air and sun. Easy to do at home before the baby really starts moving around. Just put some clothdiapers on a watherproof surface on the floor and the baby on top. Or put just a cloth diaper without a cover. You can use clips (diaper service sells them) or simple a wide elastic band around the baby's waist to hold the cloth diaper.

Outside the house, you probably need covers. Wool diaper covers are better than plastic in terms of breathability.

At night, you may consider having her baby sleeping on top of a folded woolen blanked (in your bed, in the crib, wherever the baby sleeps) covered with cloth diapers. A clothdiaper on top for boys. Julia

I'm a nanny and have had several children in cloth diapers. Some have had terrible rashes on occassion and I have found nothing works better than Burt's Bee's diaper cream ( you can find it at Whole Foods and Berkeley Bowl). It's mild and extremely effective. Good luck:) Sam

We once got a batch of cloth diapers from the service that were very rough and very ''new'' looking. So I simply put them through a cycle with fabric softener. My baby's rash went away so I guess this did the trick. anon

I just read my posted response to this in Advice Given (N-Z) August 22, 2003, & wanted to clarify that the paste I used to clear up my daughter's rash was made of cornstarch mixed with milk of magnesia, NOT ''mylanta'' which I mentioned but don't think is the same thing. Sorry for the confusion, but please do give this a try!! mayumi

Using cloth diapers, I found I had to use a 'non-biological' washing powder to avoid my children getting a rash. This made a great difference (my poor son had a terrible rash until I got this sorted!). The other thing that helped (and also cleared up my own eczema that I'd had for years on my hands as a wonderful unexpected side-effect!) was to sprinkle corn starch over the diaper area on the baby's bottom, and on the diaper itself, quite liberally. Unfortunately, I didn't learn this until my third baby... No more rash!