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Cloth Diapers and Diaper Rash

How To Treat Diaper Rash When Using Cloth Diapers

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Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers don't always work well with the most common types of diaper rash creams. Oils and minerals in rash creams can cause your diapers to repel moisture.

Copyright 2010, Heather Corley.
One potential advantage of using cloth diapers is that you may deal with diaper rash less than you would with disposables. Almost every baby gets a diaper rash eventually, though, so it's important to know how to handle the rash with your cloth diapers or you could end up ruining them. As with any diaper rash, if it becomes severe or is lingering despite your efforts at treatment, you should talk to your pediatrician. Some diaper rashes may require a prescription cream to heal.

Is the Cloth Diaper Causing the Rash?

If your baby tends to get a rash often, take a look at which materials make up the cloth diapers you're using at the time of the rash. Some babies are sensitive to a particular fabric. Cotton or another natural fiber may be a good choice if your baby is sensitive to synthetic materials.

Cloth diapers can allow wetness from urine to stay close to your baby's skin for a longer time than disposables. The increased wetness can lead to a rash for some babies. One possible solution is to change diapers more often to minimize baby's contact with the wetness. You can also try using a cloth diaper with fleece as the material next to baby's skin, or add a fleece liner or diaper doubler. Fleece is good for keeping moisture away from baby's skin.

Check Your Detergent

Sensitive skin can also be affected by the type of detergent you use when you wash your cloth diapers. You could try switching to a detergent without fragrance, or to a sensitive skin formula if you think your baby's diaper rash is detergent-related. Some detergents build up more than others, so you may also want to try stripping your cloth diapers to remove residue if your baby has sensitive skin. Adding an extra rinse to your diaper washing routine may also help prevent residue and rashes.

Air It Out

Since diaper rashes are often caused by moisture, letting baby dry off sans diaper can help clear up a rash. Lay a waterproof pad topped with a soft blanket on the floor and let baby play diaper-free for a while so air can get to the rashy area.

Rash Creams and Cloth Diapers

Most diaper rash creams don't work well with cloth diapers because the oils in them can cause the diapers to repel moisture. Once you've used a mismatched diaper cream with a cloth diaper, it can be very hard to remove that oily residue. The diaper could be ruined by a rash cream, and some cloth diaper manufacturers consider the diaper warranty voided if a rash cream has been used. There are some diaper rashes that need treatment with a cream, though. If you find that your baby needs a diaper rash cream, here are some things to try so that you don't ruin your cloth diapers.
  • Use a diaper liner. Disposable diaper liners add a barrier between your baby and the cloth diaper, so the rash cream gets on the liner instead of the diaper.
  • Use a cloth-friendly rash cream. There are a few diaper rash creams that are made for use with cloth diapers. Some to try include Grandma El's Diaper Rash Remedy (Compare Prices), Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm (Compare Prices), GroVia Magic Stick (Compare Prices), or California Baby Calming Diaper Rash Cream (Compare Prices).
  • Use disposables until the rash clears. If you must use a diaper rash cream that isn't cloth-friendly, or your pediatrician prescribes a special rash cream, you may want to use disposable diapers until your baby's bottom heals. You'll still need to change diapers often, but you could avoid ruining your favorite cloth diapers this way.

Removing Diaper Rash Cream from Cloth Diapers

If your cloth diapers end up with some rash cream on them despite your best efforts, you may need to do some special work to save them. Dish soap is good for removing the problematic oils found in many diaper rash creams, so you can try hand-washing the diapers with the liquid soap from your kitchen. You may also need to scrub the diapers to effectively remove the oils. An old toothbrush can help get the dish soap worked into the diaper. Dish soaps foam more than laundry soap, though, so be sure to rinse well or you'll end up with a washer full of suds. Stripping your cloth diapers may also help remove the rash cream.

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