Monday, September 7, 2009

Rashes and Cloth Diapers

I mentioned before that Jonah acquired a rash from the disposable diapers that we used while on our Utah vacation. When we must use disposable diapers, we typically use an unbleached, unscented brand. Being that I have never used disposable diapers with Jonah for more than a day at a time, I severely underestimated the number that we needed. With three days left in the vacation, we were on our last diaper, making a mad dash to the store around the corner from our hotel room. They did not have any unbleached diapers, and the only "natural" diapers they had were in size one. My sister uses Luvs on her children, and loves them. They have sensitive skin, and have not had any issues with this brand of diaper.

Every child reacts differently to different skin irritants, that's the thing to remember here. Jonah did not fair as well as my niece and nephew with the Luvs. After three days of wearing them, his little tush was raw by the time we got home despite ointments and frequent changing.

I thought it would go away when we started using cloth diapers and EC again. At first, it began to dwindle, and it was nearly cleared up. Then one morning I took his diaper off to find his bottom raw again, this time with welts. It looked bad, but it didn't seem like anything to go rushing off to the doctor for. After all, I didn't want to be one of "those" moms.... the kind who makes an appointment for any little sniffle or bruise. This was just a diaper rash, pretty similar to other bad rashes I'd seen in my childcare days. I bought some Triple Paste, and almost overnight the rash died down again.

A week later, Jonah woke up from nap crying. That is unusual for him, but it does happen sometimes. I got him out of his bed, put him on his potty, and he began to wail and writhe in pain. I called for my mother-in-law thinking maybe it is a UTI. We put him on the changing table where the light is better, and were shocked to see weeping blisters all over his poor little bottom as well as his penis and scrotum. No wonder it hurt him to go on the potty!

We got him to the doctor who took one quick look and right away said it was a bacterial infection. She said that a lot of children who wear disposable diapers when it's hot out (we were in Utah- the weather was above 100 F some days!) will get an infection that starts out looking like a regular diaper rash. Jonah was prescribed some oral antibiotics as well as an antibiotic diaper ointment.

So that's the rash part of the post. Now about the cloth diapers, and the reason I am blogging about this in the first place. Ointments are very very bad for cloth diapers. There is a short list of "cloth friendly" ointments including Rainforest Babies, Punkin Booty Bits, California Baby, and Burts Bees. It's also possible to make your own using olive oil and beeswax. The reason most commercial brands of ointment don't mix well with cloth diapers is because of their petroleum and zinc bases. These get on the cloth and leave a residue that hooks onto the cloth. It can cause repelling (meaning the liquid slides off of the fabric instead of being absorbed) leaking, or staining.

I've found that while the natural ointments are great for prevention, when I need to bust a persistent rash, I break out the big guns. My weapons of choice are usually PinXav or Triple Paste. PinXav is difficult to find, and sometimes has to be ordered through the pharmacy but I find it to be more effective. Triple Paste is found just about anywhere and works in about the same time it would take for you to locate or order PinXav.

Then there's the petroleum based antibiotic ointment to kill the bacteria. So what did I do to protect my diapers? It's actually quite easy. I had a pair of flannel pajama pants that had ripped. I was planning on recycling them into wash cloths. They became diaper liners instead. I cut rectangles about six inches long and three inches wide, and surged the edges to prevent them from fraying (if I can do this, anyone can. I'm a living disaster when it comes to sewing!)

When I changed Jonah's diaper, I folded the dipe and laid the flannel liner on top of it. I then put it on Jonah and fastened, just like any other diaper. They do make rice paper liners which work well, but I'm told that for heavy duty diaper creams like PinXav, they are too thin and the diapers still get stained.

I also had to strip the diapers to make sure that the bacteria was not breeding within the cloth. For one day, Jonah went back into his unbleached disposable diapers, and I loaded the diapers into the washing machine. I added a bit of bleach (I would only use bleach on diapers in this case of needing to get rid of bacteria) and washed the diapers as usual. Then I ran them through a series of hot rinses. Stripping diapers is difficult for me because I have a front loading washing maching, that only has cold rinses. Usually to strip diapers, you peak into the wash to see if there are any bubbles in the water. If there are, you know that you need to continue to rinse them out. I cannot check. You are also supposed to use really hot water to rinse, but I can only run hot-cold cycles or at best warm-warm. When Daryl and I get our own place, I will definitely be looking for a washer that is more condusive to washing and stripping cloth diapers.

So several weeks after battling this rash, it is finally disappearing. I think that it's helped that we have been using EC a lot over the long weekend, and stripping the diapers with bleach also made a big difference. Tonight before I put Jonah to bed, his bottom was completely clear.

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