Natural Remedies for Nappy Rash

I posted recently about the nappy rash Tom developed due to being left too long in a dirty nappy at nursery. Whilst the easiest thing to do for nappy rash is to give babies plenty of nappy free time, this was so bad that I did want to help the healing along a little.

I prefer, where possible, to reach for homemade natural remedies over shop-bought ones. They do have to work, of course – I am not about to leave my child in pain just because I’ve decided that I am vaguely uneasy about using sudocrem (or whatever).

Fortunately, there are some quite effective natural remedies for nappy rash. And best of all, they are things that many households have lying around anyway. Because Tom very rarely gets nappy rash, we are more likely to have these options to hand than nappy cream. Here are a few things that we have found especially effective:

Bicarb of soda (also known as baking soda)

I’ve heard that some people use this as a paste at every nappy change, but we have other things we use at changes. Instead, we put 2 teaspoons of bicarb into Tom’s evening bath. Because it is an alkali, it neutralises any acid from the wee or poo (if, for example, the baby has been eating lots of fruit). It also discourages yeast and bacteria, which helps to combat infections underlying the rash.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. We use it to neutralise odours from the nappy bin, so always have some in the house. For nappy rash, we mix one drop with a tablespoon of sunflower oil and rub it (gently) into the skin under the nappy area. As well as fighting off any bacteria or yeast, the oil helps to prevent moisture from the urine reaching the skin, in much the same way a barrier cream does. You could use coconut oil instead of the sunflower oil. It is another anti-fungal, anti-bacterial ingredient and very good for moisturising dry skin.

Chamomile & Honey Tea with Lavender Oil

This is something we use all the time, not just for nappy rash. We use washable wipes on Tom, rather than wet wipes. About once a week, I make up a solution of chamomile and honey tea, sunflower oil, and a couple of drops of lavender oil. This goes in a spray bottle and is sprayed on the nappy area every nappy change. Lavender has anti-inflammatory properties and is sometimes used to treat burns, so is perfect for nappy rash. Honey is anti-bacterial, and chamomile is soothing. When Tom was little, his tummy button got a little bit infected after the umbilical cord stump fell off. Whilst we were waiting for a doctor’s appointment, I used this mix to wash the area and the infection cleaned up in under 24 hours – no need to go to our GP after all.

These are the remedies we’ve used ourselves at home. With these, Tom’s recent rash was significantly improved after 24 hours and gone within 72 hours. I’ve also seen Oatmeal baths recommended but we haven’t tried them ourselves yet.

Nappy Free Time

I am a bit cross. I picked up Tom from nursery last week to find that he had a serious nappy rash. I’m not talking a bit of redness here, but actual open sores. The staff apologised profusely – apparently he had done a poo, but no one had smelt it for some time. As true nappy rash is caused by the bacteria in the poo reacting with stale wee on the skin to produce ammonia, he had a very sore bum indeed.

They had creamed him up and let him wander around nappy free. Which they were very nervous about telling me. I guess in case I had a problem with my kid being semi-naked in front of a bunch of adults he isn’t related to (it honestly didn’t even occur to me at first – I trust them to change his nappy after all, so this didn’t seem so very different).

The thing is, as I explained to the staff, Tom actually goes nappy free quite a lot at home. We aren’t quite in the elimination communication zone (where babies wear no nappies at all and parents learn when they are about to wee or poo and take them to a potty), but we tend to let him go nappy free in the morning, up until his first nap, then in the evening after dinner until bedtime.

We started doing it when he was tiny, because we noticed he was much happier in the evenings without a nappy on. He was also more mobile – without the bulk of a nappy or clothes he could scoot around the floor on his back many, many months before he started to roll or crawl.

Obviously there is some risk now that he is fully mobile. As a little baby, we just put him down on a pile of towels to catch any accidents. Now, there is no way to keep him on a towel even if we tried. Fortunately, the floors in our flat are mostly hard floor (except the bedrooms) so easy to clean. Wee is not a problem at all, and we have learnt the signs of imminent poo. We can normally catch him before he goes and maneuver a nappy liner under him.

Until now, Tom has not really had any proper nappy rash. Just the occasional bit of redness, normally after a long car journey. I am sure that part of that is down to allowing him to go nappy free so much.

We are treating the current rash with bicarb of soda in his bath, tea tree oil mixed with sunflower oil, and plenty of nappy off time. It’s already looking much, much better.

Anyone else let their little ones wander round with no nappy on? Or do you think we are crazy to risk it?