Natural Health

Is Your Baby’s Rash Diaper Rash Or Yeast Rash?

June 5, 2013
Photo Credit: MissMessie via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: MissMessie via Compfight cc

If your child has ever had a rash and you decided to Google it to see if you could figure out whether it was a diaper rash or yeast rash, you may have been overwhelmed with the results.

There are so many different types of rashes, many of which look the same, that it’s hard to tell which is which.

I hear a lot of moms (and yes, even some doctors) mistake yeast rashes for regular ole’ diaper rash.

It’s easy to do because at first, they both look very similar, but after a couple of days you can really start to see a difference… if you know what to look for.

Today I want to talk to you about the causes of these rashes, what you can do to prevent them, how to tell which is which, and what you can do to treat each of them quickly.

Causes Of Diaper Rash

Diaper rash (including yeast rash) is caused by a variety of different things, but the following 5 are what I’ve found to be the most common.

  • Infrequent diaper changes
  • Foods
  • Sickness
  • Friction
  • Allergies

The most well-known diaper rash culprit is infrequent diaper changes.

Now, I’m a mom living in the real world of having 3 children and a load of responsibility, and this is a safe zone. I’m sure we’ve all let our kids wear a dirty diaper a little too long at some point or another… and yes, that includes wet diapers, not just poppy ones. No one here is judging you for that. The fact of the matter is this… diapers are a convenience, and we as moms can get busy and let them become REALLY convenient. For some babies and toddlers, this is more of a problem than for others. Some kids have sensitive skin and can develop a rash quickly and easily. Others (like mine) rarely get rashes… especially when it comes to wearing a diaper a little too long.

Foods are also a big cause of diaper rashes, specifically when your introducing solids to your baby.

Now, with my kids, I was never really been in a big hurry to get them eating on their own. They were all breastfed, and that’s what I wanted as their main source of nutrition. When it came time to introducing some first foods, I tried to focus on choosing foods that were less likely to irritate their bottoms (and their guts) when I first started feeding them. Mashed avocado is a first food in our house! This cut down on food related diaper rashes a lot for my babies.

As my kids got older and grew into toddlers, we still had some instances where they would all of a sudden get a terrible diaper rash because they ate something and their poo ended up becoming very acidic, burning their skin. No fun.

Another cause for diaper rashes is sickness.

When kids get sick their bodies and everything going on with them can change. Their gut can slow down because their body is putting a large amount of energy into fighting the sickness they’re dealing with. This can mean less digested foods, and it can also mean toxins in their poo as their body fights off the nasties that are making it sick. Both of these things can end in your little one having a red bottom.

Friction will also cause diaper rash on babies bottom.

This is seen mostly when a baby is in between diaper sizes. If you use disposable diapers, you won’t see this as much because disposable diapers sizes overlap a bit, but if you cloth diaper you may see it a bit more if your baby’s current diaper is a bit snug and the next size up is a bit too loose.

For the most part, diaper rash from friction will show up around the waste or the legs where the diaper would rub at.

Lastly, allergies can cause diaper rash.

No, I’m not talking about seasonal allergies. I’m talking about allergies to chemicals that cause a skin reaction. This could be from disposable diapers, the type of fabric used on your cloth diapers, to the detergent you’re using to wash diapers or clothes in. If your little one is sensitive to a chemical or fabric, their skin is going to react to it when exposed.

How To Tell If Baby’s Rash Is A Diaper Rash Or Yeast Rash

Over and over, you’re told that regular diaper rash is a red rash that is slightly raised or bumpy feeling and is scattered across the diaper area whereas a yeast rash is much more red (called beefy red) where the edge of the rash is very defined and raised and that there are bumps that surround the edge of the rash (called satellite lesions).

Not getting a mental image? Google is your friend although you may come across some photos of some really bad looking diaper rashes and question how on earth it got so bad or why no one did anything about it early on. Some are really pitiful. Just be aware.

For me, browsing through photos sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t. Most times it doesn’t.

So how do I tell if my baby has a diaper rash or yeast rash? Well, I don’t really. What I do is that I always treat any rash on my kids bottom as if it were a regular diaper rash, and if it doesn’t go away or start to improve within a couple days, I’ll start treating for a yeast rash. This has always worked for us. I’ve never needed to take my kids to the doctor over a rash that wouldn’t go away on their bottom.

Preventing Diaper Rash

Prevention is always first. Always.

If you do your best at preventing your child from getting a diaper rash, yeast or not, you don’t have to worry so much about treating it, right? The thing is, it’s easier said than done, but we can all try our best.

First things first… change those diapers!!!

If your kid makes a poop, change it… within 10 minutes if at all possible. Don’t let it sit on their bottom… especially if they’re prone to getting a rash. Same thing with wet diapers except it’s not as frequently. What is it… change them every 2 hours if it’s wet diapers only? I honestly can’t remember, but I think it’s close to that. The skin can tolerate a wet diaper longer than a poopy diaper without developing a rash, but if you leave wet diapers on your baby all day, only changing it when it’s full and can’t hold anymore, you’re setting them up for a nasty rash (and most-likely a yeast one).

Warm, moist areas are breeding grounds for bacteria and yeast. The goal is to keep baby’s bum clean and dry.

When it comes to preventing diaper rash from foods, don’t rush into introducing foods. Baby’s love mama’s milk, and it’s so good for them. They don’t have to get going on solids right at 4 months. Give them some time. When you do begin to introduce solids to you baby, try out the Weston A. Price model of feeding babies and see how that works for you. I love it because I feel like it really works with your baby’s development and gives them optimal nutrition with breast milk or healthy homemade baby formula being the base of it all.

As far as sickness goes, there are a couple things to think about when it comes to preventing rashes. First of all, preventing sickness in the first place is #1. Feeding your kids healthy foods and healthy fats so their immune systems are running at an optimal level to keep their bodies healthy. If they do get sick, boosting their immune system with immune stimulating herbs and protecting their bottoms against nasty poos will go a long way in preventing diaper rash.

Friction diaper rashes are a no brainer… loosen up those diapers!

Same goes with allergies. When it comes to your kid getting a rash due to his diapers, it may take some time to figure out the exact cause of it. It could be the brand of disposable you’re using. It could be the type of material his diaper is made out of. It could be the detergent you’re using. In order to prevent this from happening, going with natural, un-dyed, un-scented, chemical free options are your best bet. Diaper rashes occur less frequently with cloth diapered babies than disposable diapered babies, and using a natural, homemade laundry detergent is way better for sensitive skin than store-bought baby detergents.

Lastly, and this one is big for me, protect those tushies! I’m religious about putting diaper cream and powder on my baby’s bottoms with each diaper change. Not only does this create a barrier between their skin and irritants, but it nourishes their skin at the same time. I’ve had enough nasty diaper rashes that make miserable babies and a sad mama to know better than to skip this part of our diapering routine.

Treating Diaper Rash And Yeast Rash

So if you’ve done your part in preventing your little one from getting a diaper rash, and they still get one, there are some things you can do to help it get better quickly… naturally of course.

1. Air Out

One of the best things you can do is to take those diapers off (cloth and disposables) and let your baby’s bottom get some clean, fresh air and dry out. Let them take a nap without a diaper. Just cover your mattress with something that can be washed. Let them run around the house diaper-less for 30 minutes and clean up any accidents that do occur. This is easier if you don’t have carpet. If it’s warm outside, take them out and expose their bums to the sun! Vitamin D is a good thing!!

2. Sooth Skin

When a child has any sort of diaper rash, their bottom hurts. Sooth their skin by putting something on their bottom that will reduce friction against their diaper (as in herbal baby powder) and at the same time allow their skin to breath and heal.

Also, use products that are 100% natural and don’t have any medicines or chemicals in them which can further harm or burn the skin. There are plenty of products that contain herbs and minerals like zinc that protect and heal damaged skin. These sorts of things can make a world of difference in your baby’s comfort.

3. Switch Gears

If your child has a red rash that won’t go away with the above tactics, then consider that it could be a yeast rash. Regular treatment for regular diaper rashes tend to not work if the rash is a yeast rash. You’ll need something that is geared towards yeast.

There are over-the-counter anti-fungal medications that will work, but I wouldn’t advise that. They can make yeast resistant to them and cause it to come back with a vengeance if they’re used too much. Plus, typical anti-fungal medications are metabolized through the liver… even topical medications, which can bog down your little one’s liver and cause problems of it’s own. It’s best to go with something that will take care of yeast naturally.

Coconut oil has anti-fungal properties. Baking soda and diluted vinegar are anti-fungal. Anti-fungal herbs are also great to use in yeast creams and salves to help deal with yeast diaper rashes as well.

Do you have any tips or advice when it comes to differentiating regular diaper rash from yeast rashes or on how to treat it? Share with me in the comments below! I’d love to hear your stories!

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19 Comments

  • Reply Emily W. June 20, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    OMG. Where do I buy the cloth diapers in the picture of this post?!?! To die for!

    • Reply Meagan June 20, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      I’m not sure Emily. This photo was a creative commons photo from flickr, and the owner says it was made out of an old t-shirt. I wonder where she got the pattern. They are cute though!

  • Reply Becky June 20, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    My babe had a rash that lasted two weeks before I began this treatment… so I was so happy to have found that GSE (grapefruit seed extract) works wonders. GSE*diluted* in distilled water for yeast rash. I used a squirt bottle and cotton pads to apply just before putting the diaper on.

    • Reply Meagan June 20, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      I’ve heard some mamas rave about GSE, but then you have some who don’t like it. It does seem to work, but you have to be careful about the companies you buy it from. Some companies have been reported as to putting antibiotics and preservatives in their GSE, and some use less than preferred methods of extracting it which leads to toxins and chemicals in the product.

      The company I used to buy mine from sent me a full report of their GSE and it looked fairly good, but some of the processing was a bummer so I decided to find some other things to use instead. But… I will say that it’s probably better than going for meds right off the bat. Probably. Thanks for sharing Becky. Many people will find that little tip very helpful, and I’m glad you have found a cheaper, more natural way of treating your baby’s rash.

  • Reply Jennifer September 24, 2013 at 11:04 PM

    I just wanted to add something I learned! My son is 10 month old and got his first diaper rash. I ad some creams on hand from his baby shower…so of course I tried those out. Within a day the rash got worse. It was where his legs meet his body going right down to his butthole. I started doing all the above as advice from friends and what I found on the internet. It didn’t get worse but wasn’t getting better. A guy who works at whole foods was helping me pick out coconut oil for him when i explained my problem. He told me an old family trick he’s even used and it works. Make a cup of chamomile tea (I had Traditional medicinals brand….so he told me to use 4 tea bags for 1 cup). You’re supposed to let the tea bag soak for 20 min. After it cooled…I put it in a Tupperware for easy access. So his next diaper change, I rinsed him off in the sink (no wipes), pat him dry, took a wash cloth dipped in the chamomile tea (do not ring out) and put it all over his privates. You let it air dry, then some coconut oil, then diaper. By the next diaper change I noticed a slight difference. It wasn’t huge…but there was a difference! By the third diaper change…there was a huge difference! The next day it was ALMOST gone but was still lingering….so from what I had read from another mom…I decided to put breast milk on it. After I put the chamomile tea on him, I let him air dry, then poured some breast milk on his rashes areas and spread it around. I let that air dry….PUT NOTHING ELSE ON….put him down for the night
    The next morning….the rash was non existent! So now our diaper routine consists of chamomile tea and air drying! He’s under the weather right now…so I’m guessing that was his culprit!

    • Reply Meagan September 25, 2013 at 8:14 PM

      Great idea for clearing up a rash that creams aren’t helping. The chamomile is an anti-inflammatory and it also has some antifungal properties too in case baby has a yeast rash. Good to know it worked for you!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Issac December 10, 2013 at 7:07 AM

    I want to to thank you for this good read!! I certainly loved every bit
    of it. I’ve got you book-marked to look at new things you post…

    • Reply Meagan December 10, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      Thank you Issac!

  • Reply Denise January 13, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Meagan,
    Another very common contributor to diaper rash is baby wipes. When I had my first I read the ingredient in the wipes and found out that not only are they very harsh toxic chemicals to the skin they actually cause neurological problems as well. MI is notorious for causing a gamut of skin problems.

    http://www.naturalnews.com/041203_skin_allergies_toxic_chemicals_personal_care_products.html

    I never used wipes for the children. I kept a small spray bottle of water with napkins or square clothe diapers for wiping and drying (not presewn clothe diapers like Fuzzi Bunz, which I did use for diapering) but the old fashioned ones that come in a pack at Walmart or Target. (ps. I used Fuzzi Bunz diapers and LOVED them).

    I would spray their bottoms and wipe using Viva towels or the clothe diapers. For outings I always had extra plastic bags for the dirty towels or clothe diapers I used. I would also use the clothe diaper to change them on. (I used a changing pad but didn’t like the thought of that getting germs on it, so I put the clothe diaper under their bums before changing them on the pad).

    For extra cleaning power you could add a few ingredient to the water in the sprayer. I love caprylic acid which is a great anti-fungal but also wonderful for natural cleaners (I use it in my ktichen cleaner). Another is a drop or two of tea tree oil. Lavender or myrrh work well also.

    If you are using clothe diaper it is also important to note what detergent you are using. Making your own is the best option.

    Thanks for all the great info, Meagan. Love reading your powerful posts. You are such a blessing to mommies everywhere.

    • Reply Meagan January 13, 2014 at 4:58 PM

      Absolutely Denise! Baby wipes can be a big culprit. Thanks for sharing your tips with us too!

  • Reply Andrea February 15, 2014 at 2:03 AM

    Hello,I have a question my daughter is 8 going on 9 months old and she has been sick and is now on antibiotics but they make her poop all the time and I change her diapers frequently and we use organic diapers but she has developed a bad rash and cries every time I try to clean her it’s so bad. I want to look into the coconut oil solution,what kind should I buy?

    • Reply Meagan February 15, 2014 at 10:24 AM

      If she’s on antibiotics and it’s making her poop more often and caused a rash… it could be diaper rash from all the poo, but it could also be yeast rash because antibiotics exacerbate yeast growth in the body (because it’s killing off all the good bacteria in the gut). Any, cold pressed organic coconut oil will work… not refined… the real stuff. Also, lavender and tea tree essential oils are okay for her age and help with yeast as well. I’d put this on her EVERY TIME you change her diaper. It would also be even better if you infused the coconut oil with crushed garlic first as garlic is a great anti-fungal. Here’s how to infuse an herb into oil. Hope this helps!!

      • Reply Anne April 3, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        I heard somewhere not to use garlic. Because garlic is very dangerous with prolonged contact with skin. It can burn very bad and cause severe burns over time. I don’t know about infusing it into an oil, maybe that would work, but I’d just like to warn about putting raw garlic on skin as it can cause a severe reaction and blisters. Yogurt is also a main cure for yeast infections as it counteracts the bad bacteria with good.

        • Reply Meagan April 3, 2014 at 1:17 PM

          Yes Anne… you’re absolutely right. Raw garlic will burn and shouldn’t be used directly on skin for long periods of time… especially on babies. I didn’t mention using garlic oil in the post, only in one of the comments, but anytime you infuse an herbal oil, you should always strain the herbs out of it so there should be no garlic left in it. Then of course it’s best to test it on yourself or a patch of skin first before putting it on babies bottom. I love using garlic oil or salves on rashes though… it seems to work really well. I’ve not tried the yogurt, but it makes sense that it would work too. Thanks for your comment… it’s good to be reminded about why to be cautious and know what you’re doing first!

    • Reply Denise February 15, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      I agree wholeheartedly with Meagan. Great advice!! If my baby had to take antibiotics I would definitely follow up with some antifungals and also probiotics. A safe natural antifungal for little ones is caprylic acid (derived from coconut). They sell it in gel caps. Just poke a pin into it and squirt it in their mouth, on your nipple (if breastfeeding) and also the diaper rash.
      A really good probiotic safe for infants is RAW.
      https://www.swansonvitamins.com/q?kw=raw+probiotics+kids
      Amazon sells it too.
      Blessings,
      D

  • Reply Rachel July 7, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Our little gets yeast rashes from the smallest things from changing the wash or what i wash with i cloth diaper and i had to change how wash them do to only having cold water and anytime we change from cloth to disposable back to cloth we use hydrocortisone on every rash on her bottem it works great. When i took her for a check up i had already tried everything i could think of to get ride of the rash and wouldnt go away so i asked then she said that it was yeast and disnt tell me how to treat really lol

    • Reply Meagan July 7, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      Hummm, hydrocortisone is a steriod, and I usually try to stay away from anything like that right off the bat. Hopefully this post will help you have a natural plan on working with yeast infections in the future. Good luck!

  • Reply A concerned parent and pediatrician August 22, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Help me understand why well-tested and trusted medications like hydrocortisone and anti-fungals are the devil, yet you feel no concern applying “natural” untested products like GSE or potent oils that can easily lead to hypersenstivity reactions, such as tea tree oil or lavender, to an infants sensitive perineal rash?

    You are all irresponsible nitwits. I say that with love.

    • Reply Meagan August 22, 2014 at 8:37 PM

      Thank you for being a concerned parent and for giving your time and energy to care for the “irresponsible nitwits” children when we need you… which is not as often as you might think.

      First off, I don’t think I can help you understand because my experience with individuals like you in the past shows that you’re close-minded and over-educated by a product funded, for-profit system that in many ways falls short. However, if you want me to help you understand, I’ll try.

      Nowhere in this post did I say that hydrocortisone and anti-fungals are “the devil”. If fact, I never mentioned hydrocortisone at all in this post, but only in response to a readers comment… and at that, I only said I wouldn’t “start” with it before trying something natural first. I did mention anti-fungals, but only that yeast can become resistant to them if they’re not used correctly and that they can be damaging to the liver if used too much. Both statements are true… feel free to double check.

      I also never made mention of grapefruit seed extract (GSE) in the post… again in response to a comment, and my response was that I’m not a fan of it. You can read more about why I don’t care for this product in this post.

      Further more, my mention of using “potent oils” like tea tree and lavender were again in response to a comment. Those oils are great oils with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and yes, they would work well for these types of rashes. In fact, they are two of the most-studied, least-sensitizing oils there are. Lavender is so mild that it can be used directly on the skin without being diluted. I will say that I ALWAYS recommend diluting EOs no matter how “safe” they are though. I should also say that some aromatherapists feel it’s best to wait until children are over 2 years old to use EOs on them while others feel that if you do use them at an earlier age, they need to be diluted properly (.25% dilution). If you’re interested in my views pertaining to essential oil safety, I wrote a post on it which you can find here.

      Now I’d like to address what you said about medications being “well-tested” and “trusted.”

      I don’t think it’s very wise to make blanket statements like that as it’s common knowledge that many of the “well-tested” FDA approved medications are not tested well enough. Many of these medications end up being pulled from the market but not before their side effects have done more harm than originally anticipated. In fact, the testing done on new medication is done by the company selling them. Doesn’t that sound like there could be a conflict of interest in that?

      This and many other reasons is what leads a discerning parent to research and take charge of their family’s well-being instead of blindly handing them over to a generic, and even possibly, financially-charged entity such as modern day drug companies.

      I understand that pediatricians devote their education and much of their lives in caring for children, however, it’s not fair to insult those of us who care enough to go the extra mile for our own families and share what we have learned. I say that in love and respect of course. ;)

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