All parents dread it, but nearly no baby escapes unscathed. Diaper rash is a common, nearly inevitable, skin ailment that presents as inflamed, red, or irritated skin in a baby’s diaper region. Diaper rash is a type of dermatitis, meaning it is a skin inflammation.
There are varying degrees of diaper rash, a number of factors that can contribute to diaper rash, and a variety of ways to treat diaper rash, including using essential oils. Read on to learn more about diaper rash and the best essential oils for treating it.
Symptoms of Diaper Rash
Not all diaper rashes are the same. There are different types of diaper rash, as well as varying degrees of common diaper rash ranging from mild to severe, and some rashes have different symptoms than others.
As you change your baby’s diaper, be on the lookout for the following symptoms in your baby’s diaper region, which includes any area covered by a diaper:
- Pinkness or redness of any area of the skin covered by a diaper
- Inflamed or swollen skin (edema)
- Blisters or pus-filled bumps (pustules)
- Dry raised bumps (papules)
- Scaly, flaky patches of skin or peeling skin
- Oozing pus or discharge from broken skin, bumps, or blisters
- Skin sensitivity, warmth of skin in affected area
Types of Diaper Rash
There are several types of diaper rash. Here are the kinds you are most likely to encounter:
Irritant Diaper Rash
The most common type of diaper rash is irritant diaper rash, or irritant dermatitis. This commonly looks like pink or red patches of skin, but can vary in terms of mild to severe, if left untreated.
Yeast infection rashes tend to have distinct edges on the patches of irritated or inflamed skin. It will also have bumps or pimples, and may even have oozing or bleeding sores that can be worse in skin folds. This type of diaper rash is most often associated with antibiotics.
In some instances, a diaper rash can signal a sensitivity: it is the skin’s reaction to a certain product’s ingredients, such as fragrance or preservatives in your baby wipes or barrier cream/ointment.
It can also signify a sensitivity to a particular fiber or material your cloth diaper may be made of, such as microfiber or wool. Food sensitivities may also trigger a gut reaction that produces loose stools, or diarrhea, that can then result in diaper rash.
Less often, diaper rashes can be caused by bacterial infections such as staph, strep, or impetigo. These rashes generally look more severe than common irritant diaper rash.
If you are concerned that your baby may have a bacterial infection rash, you should see your family healthcare provider for a diagnosis and course of treatment.
Causes of Diaper Rash
The primary cause of common diaper rash is infrequent diaper changes, which translates to prolonged exposure to wetness and waste.
Most rashes are triggered by enzymes in baby’s poop that break down and irritate delicate skin. There are several other factors that can contribute to diaper rash as well. Here is a list of common causes of diaper rash:
- Friction, which leads to chafing and irritated skin
- Lack of air exposure to diaper region
- Ammonia Burn: This can happen when using cloth diapers if the diapers aren’t getting clean enough in the wash cycle, resulting in an ammonia buildup that is causing a chemical burn on baby’s delicate diaper region.
- Wipe Sensitivity: Many disposable wipes have synthetic chemicals and other harmful products that can trigger reactions in baby’s delicate skin.
- Sickness & Infections: Oftentimes diaper rash accompanies sickness in baby, especially if baby has diarrhea. Antibiotics can also cause diarrhea, resulting in diaper rash.
- Food Sensitivities & Allergies: Foods can be a source of diaper rash if baby has a sensitivity to it, or if it is too acidic, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, and tomato-based foods.
How to Prevent Diaper Rash
The best way to prevent diaper rash is to minimize the time baby’s skin is in contact with urine or stool. Here are the most practical tips to help keep diaper rash at bay:
Frequent diaper changes
Change baby’s diaper often. As soon as you suspect baby has soiled her diaper, give her a fresh, clean, dry one.
Keep it Clean & Dry
Clean your baby’s diaper region each time you change him. You can use a homemade wipe solution using essential oils and a cloth wipe to gently clean your baby’s diaper area. See below for more details. Make sure baby’s bum is dry before covering it with a fresh diaper.
Apply a moisture-blocking barrier to the skin
Protecting baby’s diaper area by applying a moisture-blocking ointment, cream, or salve will prevent urine and stool from coming into direct contact with the delicate skin, and prevent further irritation to existing rashes. Be sure to thoroughly dry the area before applying a thick layer of the product of your choice.
There are many types of barriers you can use, including petroleum-based products, zinc-oxide based creams, and all-natural ones. Some are better for cloth diapers than others. You can even make your own. See below for suggestions using essential oils.
Change diapers or diaper brands
If you use disposable diapers, try a different brand. Some of the ultra-absorbent diapers available today can actually lead to more rashes.
How? Since they are so effective at absorbing, you may not realize they are wet until they’ve wet several times, resulting in more time spent in a soiled diaper.
If you use cloth diapers, and still experience diaper rash, perhaps try using a different material of cloth diaper, such as organic cotton or wool, or consider stripping your diapers to remove any ammonia buildup.
Air it out!
If possible, let your baby’s bum air out when you can. Exposing her diaper area to air is a great way to let it dry out and help accelerate the healing process.
Treating Diaper Rash with Essential Oils
Essential oils are plant extracts that are highly concentrated, and therefore highly potent.
They can be a wonderful natural addition to your at-home diapering regimen, as opposed to all those baby products on the market made with synthetic ingredients, dyes, fragrances, and preservatives.
Essential oils can be used in a homemade cleaning solution as a safe alternative to store-bought wipes to clean and care for your baby’s skin in an effort to prevent and treat diaper rash. They can also be used to make your own salve, ointment, cream, or baby powder. More on that below.
There are many powerful benefits to using essential oils. But before you introduce the use of essential oils into your regime, it is important to note the following precautions:
- Essential oils should never be used with babies under 3 months of age.
- Essential oils should never be ingested by babies.
- Essential oils are very potent, and as such, they must never be applied directly. They must first be diluted in a carrier oil or cream before applying to baby’s skin.
Essential oils have a multitude of potent healing properties that can be ideal for helping alleviate your baby’s diaper rash.
In addition to helping treat, minimize, and heal the physical symptoms of diaper rash, essential oils will work to prevent diaper rash from reoccurring, in addition to naturally benefitting the body in other ways, such as impacting the immune system and the nervous system.
Here are just some of the ways essential oils can positively impact your baby’s health:
Essential oils have numerous healing properties.
Essential oils are known for their healing properties. The oils are highly concentrated and help the skin heal and regenerate new cells.
Essential oils are anti-inflammatory.
The anti-inflammatory properties of essential oils can relieve uncomfortable inflammation and help heal certain skin conditions.
Essential oils are antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial.
Many essential oils are antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial, which can help combat certain skin and hair follicle conditions.
Essential oils are moisturizing.
Essential oils are easily and readily absorbed and can lubricate and help lock in moisture.
Essential oils help support the nervous system.
Essential oils can help restore balance or calm the nervous system, promote a greater sense of calm and peace, and support more restful sleep and regenerative healing.
While all essential oils have their benefits and uses, there are a specific few that are especially suited to help with diaper rash. Read on to discover what they are.
The Best Essential Oils for Diaper Rash
There are a great many essential oils that can help treat diaper rash, and we have narrowed the list down to those that are best suited for babies. Here are the top 5 essential oils to enhance your diaper rash treatment regime.
Top 6 Essential Oils for Diaper Rash
Lavender is one of the most well-known and widely used essential oils, renowned for its endless healing properties, and therefore endless uses. Lavender is soothing and anti-inflammatory, which is useful for all types of skin afflictions.
It is a staple in natural first aid kits, as it is an immune-booster with its antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic, and antimicrobial, making it a clear winner when it comes to treating diaper rash.
Lavender can calm inflamed and itchy skin, help heal scratches and abrasions, reduce scarring, and help relieve pain associated with diaper rash. Lavender promotes faster healing and regeneration of skin cells. Lavender is also known for its soothing and sedating effects, which can help calm and balance the nervous system, and promote a more restful sleep, which is ideal for baby.
Lavender is one of the gentlest essential oils, and can even be used topically on babies, and therefore is especially useful in treating diaper rash. It can be blended with many other essential oils and carrier oils for maximum effect.
Chamomile essential oil can be used for numerous skin conditions, not the least of which include diaper rash. It is one of the best essential oils for use on babies, and is especially useful in treating diaper rash.
Chamomile is gentle and non-irritating to most skin types and is especially popular in products specifically formulated for children, including those with sensitive skin. Chamomile is best known for its calming and soothing abilities, but it also contains antioxidants that aid in skin repair and regeneration.
Its anti-inflammatory properties aid in reducing swelling and irritation, particularly beneficial with diaper rash. Chamomile’s calming effects are also useful in soothing baby’s irritation and promoting more restful sleep.
Frankincense essential oil has been used for over 5000 years and is even considered sacred by some. Frankincense has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties, which are fantastic at treating skin irritations.
Frankincense is well known for its healing properties, as it stimulates skin cell regeneration which aids in healing and repairing damaged skin.
It can also reduce the appearance and occurrence of scars. Frankincense can be used in a warm compress, as well as in a lukewarm bath, or applied with a carrier oil or moisturizer to help soothe and heal irritated skin.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is one of the most effective essential oils in treating fungal or bacterial diaper rash. Tea tree, or Melaleuca oil, is a common ingredient in many skincare products due to its far-reaching benefits and numerous healing properties, which include antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory.
Tea tree oil is purifying and cleansing and is used to fight infections of all kinds, including bacterial, fungal, and viral. Tea tree oil works particularly well on infected skin, especially if the diaper rash is fungal or caused by yeast, although it should not be used in concentrated form directly on broken skin. It can soothe and reduce irritation as well as redness and swelling, and it also works to heal wounds.
However, tea tree can also be an irritant, so be sure to dilute it with a carrier oil, and perform a patch test to be sure it does not worsen symptoms. Be sure to use it with a carrier oil such as olive, castor, or coconut oil.
It is also important to note that tea tree oil should not be used on babies under 6 months of age, and it should never be ingested at any age.
Lemon essential oil has antiseptic, antifungal, and disinfectant properties. Lemon essential oil contains antioxidant properties that can help protect and heal the skin.
Lemon essential oil contains therapeutic properties such as antimicrobial, antiseptic, bactericidal, tonic, astringent, and exfoliating. Mixed in a cream, ointment, or salve, it can help clear diaper rash.
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil has several health benefits including: supporting the immune system, alleviating stress and reducing insomnia.
Vivorific’s peppermint essential oil is: 100% Pure and natural, free from fillers, additives and harmful chemicals, vegan and kosher certified and sealed with tamper evident closure and Euro style dropper cap.
How to Use Essential Oils for Diaper Rash
While natural, essential oils are very powerful substances and should be used with care and caution. Not all essential oils can be used in the same way, and special precautions must be taken when considering use with babies.
Precautions for Using Essential Oils with Babies
Essential oils should never be applied in concentrated form directly to the skin.
Always dilute essential oils in a suitable carrier oil. The proper dilution ratio for babies older than 3 months is between 0.5% to 1%. See below for a list of carrier oils that are beneficial to use in a diaper rash treatment regimen.
Always patch test oils before using.
Essential oils and carrier oils should always be tested on an inconspicuous place on the body first for irritation or allergic reaction.
First, dilute the oil accordingly, then apply a small spot, the size of a pea, to baby’s arm or leg. Leave for 24 hours and monitor frequently for adverse reactions. If none occurs, the oil is considered safe when used properly. If your baby does develop a reaction, do not use.
Ways to Use Essential Oils for Diaper Rash
Add a Few Drops in the Bath
Drop a few drops of your chosen oils into a lukewarm bath for baby for a soothing topical and aromatherapeutic effect on baby.
This is a calming, gentle way to let baby’s irritated bum soak and cleanse, before patting dry and perhaps airing out for a bit prior to applying a barrier and a clean diaper.
Make a Salve or Ointment
Choose a base for your salve or ointment, such as beeswax or coconut oil, or a combination of the two, add your preferred carrier oil (see below for recommendations) and add a few drops of your chosen blend of essential oils, as per the recommended dilution rate, and mix well.
Store in an airtight container and apply gently and liberally to baby’s diaper area with each change. Here are a few recipe suggestions:
Blend ¼ cup of coconut oil with 15 drops of lavender oil and 10 drops of Tea Tree oil.
Melt coconut oil, calendula oil, and beeswax, and add 10-15 drops of parts lavender and chamomile essential oils. Apply at each diaper change.
Make a Bentonite Clay Cream
Bentonite clay has incredible healing properties. It is detoxifying, antibacterial, and cleansing, not to mention absorbent. These attributes make it perfect for healing diaper rash. A bentonite clay diaper rash cream is super easy to make, but keep in mind that if you use cloth diapers, you will want to omit the zinc.
This is because zinc is so effective at moisture blocking, that it can actually add a moisture blocking layer to your cloth diapers, making them less absorbent, and you don’t want that. That said, here is a simple recipe to get that rash on the mend:
Blend ½ cup shea butter with 4 tablespoons each of coconut oil, zinc oxide (omit the zinc for cloth diaper babes), and bentonite clay, and 5 drops of lavender and chamomile essential oils. Store in a jar, and use at each diaper change.
Make a Baby Powder
Homemade baby powder is easy to make, and much safer than commercially bought brands containing talc, which is known to be harmful to your health. Here are a couple of recipes:
Mix equal parts arrowroot starch and bentonite or kaolin clay together, and add several drops of your preferred essential oils from the list above. Sprinkle on baby’s dry bum during diaper changes.
If your baby has a yeast infection rash, you will want to omit the arrowroot starch and use just clay powder, and essential oils if you’d like. This is because arrowroot starch can actually feed the yeast, and you don’t want that.
Make a Homemade Wipe/Cleaning Solution
Using a clean, empty spray bottle, you can quickly whip up your own gentle cleaning solution for diaper changes.
There are endless recipe suggestions online for homemade baby wipe solutions, but the 4 main ingredients are filtered or distilled water, oil, soap, and essential oils. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Add equal parts water and witch hazel, and a few drops of your chosen essential oils. Shake well. Spritz onto baby’s bottom at diaper changes, and gently wipe the area clean using a cloth wipe.
You can also add several drops of Vitamin E oil, almond, jojoba, calendula, sunflower, or olive oil to your blend for additional soothing and healing benefits.
You may like to add a little castile soap to your wipe solution.
Recommended Carrier Oils for diaper rash
Coconut oil is an excellent oil to use for diaper balms and salves due to its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which contains antimicrobial properties that help to prevent infection.
Coconut oil also contains fatty acids that condition, moisturize, and protect the skin, as well as create a barrier to protect the skin from irritants.
Jojoba oil is a natural anti-inflammatory skin conditioner that seals in moisture and forms an effective barrier for the skin. It also has healing properties and can be particularly soothing for those with diaper rash.
Sunflower oil contains linoleic acid, which helps the skin retain moisture. It is also anti-inflammatory and rich in vitamins A, C, and E which help moisturize and soothe the skin when used topically.
Calendula oil has calming, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. It is known to be super gentle, healing, and soothing for the skin, which makes it ideal for soothing diaper rash symptoms.
Beeswax is completely natural and incredibly healing for the skin. It provides a natural protective barrier that keeps irritants away from direct contact with the skin, locks in moisture, and stimulates the regeneration of skin cells.
Olive oil is anti-inflammatory and can reduce irritation and itching of diaper rash. It has antimicrobial properties, is highly moisturizing, and creates a protective barrier on the skin like coconut oil and beeswax.
Diaper rash is one of those inevitable pains in the rear that nearly every parent must face at some point.
Your goal is to treat and heal it as quickly as possible to make baby’s life easier. With the use of all-natural ingredients and pure essential oils, you can treat your baby’s diaper rash easily and effectively without the risk of putting harsh or harmful ingredients into contact with your baby’s skin.
When it comes to the best essential oils for diaper rash, we’ve got you covered!
People Also Ask…
Q: Can essential oils make diaper rash worse?
A: Everyone is different. What works for some may not work for others. Some people may have more sensitive skin or particular sensitivities which make the use of certain essential oils less than ideal in their course of treatment. It is always advised to follow all precautions when trying something new, and always perform a patch test with essential oils, especially when using with baby.
Q: Are baths good for diaper rash?
A: A bath can be a soothing way to clean baby’s delicate and inflamed bottom in the event of diaper rash. Adding some baking soda and a couple drops of lavender essential oil can help soothe redness associated with diaper rash.
Q: Should I take my baby to the doctor for a diaper rash?
A: If your baby’s diaper rash continues to worsen with treatment, or has persisted for more than 7 days, it is recommended that you consult your healthcare provider to determine if an infection is present and if other courses of treatment are required to properly treat the rash.
Q: Is diaper rash common?
A: Baby diaper rash is very common, affecting nearly all babies at some point or other.
Q: Is diaper rash a sign of allergies?
A: Diaper rash can be caused by food allergies, as well as allergies or sensitivities to product ingredients in diapers, wipes, detergents, etc. It is advised that you read through all ingredients in products before using on baby, and always choose the most gentle, natural ingredients for use with baby.
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