Let’s Talk About Diaper Rash

How do you take care of it without the use of zinc oxide products or other store bought diaper creams?  This is a real struggle for parents who use cloth diapers since creams build up in the fibers and diapers start to lose absorbency.

Plantago major. (Plantain). Photo credit: dspermaculture.wordpress.com
Plantago major. (Plantain). Photo credit: dspermaculture.wordpress.com

The Bare Bottom Solution
The best approach to diaper rash is… ditch the diaper! But seriously. As soon as your baby has had a bowel movement, clean and dry the bottom and let them get some fresh air. It’s best to let them go bare-bottom outside in the sunshine. To avoid a sunburn, let them go outside before 10:00 a.m. or after 2:00 p.m. when the sun is most mild (the closer to sunrise/sunset the better). Don’t use sunscreens while they’re out during this time; this could aggravate the problem. Even 10 minutes of fresh, sunny air will help. If you’re concerned that they’ll burn, bring them inside. But, alas, we can’t let our little ones run diaper-less for too long… or else!(Cue sinister looking baby who may or may not poop on your carpet).

Cause and Effect
Before we get into some other natural approaches to diaper rash, let discuss a few of the potential causes and solutions:

  1. Irritating diaper detergents (solution: use a natural liquid soap);
  2. Digestive problems, via nursing mom or baby (solution: avoid spicy foods, citrus fruits, and other high-acid foods);
  3. Stress due to teething, fever, etc. (solution: pour yourself a cocktail – just kidding! That’s a whole separate topic)

Try a Good Probiotic
Whether or not you know the cause and are trying to eliminate it, you can also try giving your baby (and yourself, if you’re nursing) a good probiotic containing acidophilus. Consult with your health care professional for recommendations on a good brand and the right dosage.

You can also try any of the following remedies. If the rash is persistent, however, it could be a herpes-related virus or a yeast-type of fungus. In these situations, you would want to consult with your health care professional.

Traditional Herbal Remedies

Diaper Rash Powder
To help prevent diaper rash, you can make your own all-natural herbal baby powder. Here is the recipe from the herbal legend, Rosemary Gladstar:

2 parts arrowroot powder
2 parts white clay (check your natural food store)
¼ part comfrey root powder
¼ part slippery elm or marsh mallow root powder

Mix all these ingredients together in an old spice jar (something with a shaker top). For diaper rash, you can add 1/8 part Goldenseal powder, 1/8 part Myrrh powder, and 1/8 part Echinacea powder. The herbs should be organic, whenever possible so that pesticides are not contributing to the irritation.

NOTE: While cornstarch has been very effective, it’s not recommended for diaper rash that is yeast-related because it could make matters worse.

Diaper Rash Oil
Rosemary also has a recipe for a diaper rash salve. Here’s my adaptation to her recipe that makes an oil instead (no beeswax or double-boiler needed!):

1 part calendula flower
1 part comfrey leaf
1 part St. John’s wort flower
Organic olive oil

Mix the herbs together in a glass mason jar so that it’s filled ¾ of the way to the top (if using fresh herbs) or 1/3 full (if using dry herbs). Pour olive oil over the herbs to the top of the jar. Screw the lid on tight and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Shake once per day, every day for 1-3 weeks (depending on when you need it!). Strain out the oil (cheesecloth or a nut milk bag is good) and store the oil in a cool dark place. You may want to put it in a glass dropper container for easier use. Just rub this on the diaper rash and let it soak in as much as possible before putting the diaper back on.

Susan Wood’s Diaper Rash Heal
Place whole, clean, gently crushed fresh plantain leaves directly on the diaper rash as a poultice. Leave on overnight.

Soothing Oils
Dr. John R. Christopher and Cathy Gildeadi, authors of Every Woman’s Herbal suggested using mullein oil and plantain oil (or in ointment form). They say it “work wonders to soothe baby’s sore bottom”.

If you’re unsure where to find these herbs, consult with your local herbalist (there’s likely one near you!) or speak with the wellness consultant at your local health food store.



Ahlborn, Margaret L. “The Benefits of the Use of Plantain in Herbal Preparations.” Herbal Legacy. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2015.

Christopher, John R., and Cathy Gileadi. Every Woman’s Herbal. Springville, UT: Christopher Publications, 1987. Print.

Gladstar, Rosemary. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub., 2008. Print.

This information is not intended for the use of diagnosing any disease, condition or prescribing any treatment whatsoever. It is offered for informational use only, and for use in maintaining and promoting good health in cooperation with a licensed medical practitioner.  No responsibility is assumed by the distributors, author or publisher of this information should the information be used in place of a licensed medical practitioner’s services. There is no guarantee of any kind made for the performance or effectiveness of the preparations or methods mentioned on this web-site.

This information is to be used for educational purposes only.  This information has not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration, nor has it gone through studies required before a particular product can be deemed truly beneficial or potentially dangerous.

One thought on “Let’s Talk About Diaper Rash

  1. Dear Jennifer
    It’s really great that you noted here the natural remedies of the diaper rashes. But if the rashes are so severe what will be the step for relief! I generally use the diaper rash cream when I see any sort of rashes onto the bottom of the baby as I often wear the baby the cloth diaper rash. Please advice me that is it the right way to get relief from the irritating rashes.

    Thanks for your useful write up.

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