Baby Skin Care and Diaper Rash

A bad case of diaper rash can turn even the most loving, cooing baby into an irritable complainer. According to surveys from Loyola University, over 75 percent of newborns get diaper rash within the first few months after birth. This condition is caused by a combination of factors, the common of which are bacteria and detergent residues that are not completely rinsed out of diapers. These are not the only factors, though, – a rash can even arise from super clean diapers rubbing against your baby’s sensitive skin. You can prevent diaper rash by changing your baby’s diapers more frequently and increasing air circulation, first by using diaper covers that do not seal in moisture, then by allowing your child some time without a diaper.
Some of the products that promise to moisturize, soften and cleanse a baby’s skin can also contribute to diaper rash. Most baby oils and salves sold in drugstores are made with mineral {petroleum} oil, which is a good machinery lubricant but is questionable for anyone’s skin care, especially a baby’s. Commercial powders are also suspect. Most of them contain additives, coloring, preservatives, artificial scents and compounds that increase water repel-ency and enhance the powder’s ability to pour evenly and without clumping – these are extras that your baby’s skin does not need.
cropped-cropped-decorations-decorations-for-christmas-stunning-christmas-wall-stickers-decorations-ideas-with-colorful-floral-tree-pictures-and-combine-owls-little-birds-also-blue-hedgehog-pink-squirr.jpgSome ingredients in commercial powders, such as zinc stearate, do not harm skin, but can be harmful if inhaled. Poison centers regularly get reports about children who suffer coughing fits, labored breathing, insufficient blood oxygen and vomiting after inhaling baby powder. Even talcum powder, which is favored by parents because of its smoothness, can lead to trouble. If inhaled, its tiny sharp molecules can injure lungs, and it sometimes contains traces of arsenic {which is poisonous} or asbestos {which is carcinogenic}.
Good alternatives to chemical-laden commercial products include baby salves and powders made with chamomile, calendula, comfrey and lavender. These herbs soothe, heal and protect a baby’s sensitive skin. Herbal salves also contain beeswax, oil and lanolin, which provide a barrier against moisture and thus keep rashes from recurring. Baby powder made with cornstarch absorbs moisture and also reduces chafing. You can purchase herbal baby salves and powders in natural food stores, or you can make your own.

Fragrant Baby Powder

1/2 pound cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon lavender essential oil

Place cornstarch in a self-sealing plastic bag and add the essential oil drop by drop. Tightly close the bag and shake it to distribute the oil, breaking up any clumps through the bag. Let stand 4 days to distribute the essential oil. Use with every diaper change, or as needed. Potato starch or arrowroot powder can be used instead of cornstarch. Some herbalists use white clay, also called China clay, but this substance tends to clump when wet. Spices or salt shakers with large perforations in their lids make good powder containers.


Diaper Rash Salve

1 cup Baby Flower Oil {see below}
1/2 ounce beeswax
1/2 teaspoon lanolin {optional}
5 – 400-International Unit Vitamin E capsules
2 – 1,000-International Unit Vitamin A {with added Vitamin D} capsules

Heat the Baby Flower Oil just enough so that you can melt the beeswax and lanolin in it. Pop the vitamin capsules with a pin and squeeze their contents into the oil. Stir well. While the mixture is still hot and liquid, pour it into widemouthed jars and let cool. {You can also use the refillable tubes sold in backpacking supply stores.} Apply with every diaper change, or as needed. Be aware, though, that lanolin causes a reaction on some people’s skin. If you wish, you can test your baby beforehand by rubbing a tiny amount of pure lanolin on her skin. This salve can be used to treat abrasions anywhere on the body and to combat diaper rash.

Infant bathing may be one case where less is actually more. According to Loyola University researchers, the average one-month-old baby is bathed four times each week and shampooed three times in the same period. Most babies need only an occasional bath in warm water with no soap or shampoo, unless you are treating a condition such as cradle cap. Following a bath, a gentle rubdown with a quality baby oil {preferably herbal} helps to replace lost skin oils. Mother Nature can also help you to protect your newborn’s skin. The vernix caseosa, a whitish protective coating that covers the skin after birth, can have long-term beneficial properties: Natural childbirth advocates believe that if this coating is rubbed into the child’s skin instead of being washed off {as is the practice at most hospitals}, the child’s chances of developing skin problems in the future will be reduced.


Baby Flower Oil

1/2 cup each lavender flowers, calendula flowers and elder flowers
3 cups almond {or vegetable} oil

Chop dried herbs and place them in a clean glass jar. Cover herbs with almond oil and stir to remove air bubbles. Put the oil in a warm place {near a radiator or in the sun} for 2 to 3 days, then strain out herbs. If necessary, strain again using a coffee filter or fine strainer to remove the tiniest particles. Store in a cool place. Use as frequently as needed for skin treatment and massage.

Herbs can also be used to heal cradle cap, a thick, yellowish, crusty rash that forms on the scalp and sometimes the face of newborns. This rash is caused partly by an overproduction of oil. The standard medical treatment is cortisone cream, but most pediatricians would rather not use such strong steroids on babies. Instead, wash the scalp with a gentle baby shampoo to reduce excess oils, and treat daily with antiseptic and skin-healing lavender, tea tree and aloe vera.

Cradle Cap Remedy

1/4 cup aloe vera
3 drops each lavender and tea tree essential oils

Combine ingredients in a bottle and shake well to blend. Apply directly onto the skin a few times daily.

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