The Stigma of the Diaper Rash

One of the creams we’re currently using (who is not sponsoring or in any way endorsing this post).

When Peanut was younger, I had a constant fear that I was doing something wrong. Something that would label me a horrible mother and/or scar her for life. I think that we all have this fear to some degree.

So when she started getting constant diaper rashes with open sores shortly after her first birthday, I was convinced it was something I was doing. I tried everything I could find to get them to go away. I tried switching washing routines, every cream I could find, only cleaning her in the tub (as opposed to with wipes), lots of diaper-free time, multiple doctors visits with different creams prescribed, etc. None of it worked. I would be doing all of these things consistently and the sores would disappear, only to have new ones pop up a week later.

Later when I found out about the peanut allergy and how it could cause the rashes, I figured we finally found the problem. But when we eliminated all nuts from our diet, the rashes still stuck around. It took potty training to get these rashes to go away and since she still wears a diaper at night, she still to this day gets a little soreness (though luckily no open sores).

I resolved myself to the fact that she just has sensitive skin. Not too surprising considering her dad is a redhead with eczema and I don’t have particularly tough skin myself. And when Twig was born, I figured she was just like big sister.

We continued with all our routines. Lots of diaper free time, washing off most poos in the tub once she could sit up (it’s just more pleasant than fighting them to get their bum wiped, in my opinion), frequent changes, the whole deal. But she, too, has had constant rashes. Hers started earlier than Peanut’s did and seem to have no connection to the food she eats. I haven’t rushed her to the doctor in the same way I did Peanut because I like to limit our doctors visits to the truly necessary and when I used to take Peanut in because a rash looked really bad, they’d tell me it was nothing and to keep doing what I’m doing, here’s a new brand of cream you can try to no avail.

But when some blisters popped up on Twig a week ago, I decided enough was enough. I am tired of constantly battling diaper rash and there must be something I can do to prevent this. Turned out this was no normal rash. She had bacterial rash (including a pustule that had to be drained in the office) and some yeast rash on bottom. So now we’re doing three separate creams and it’s getting a ton better, but I just can’t shake the feeling that I’ve done something wrong.

I know I haven’t. The doctor told me it just happens sometimes given the environment of a diaper. All of my many hours of research on the topic of diaper rashes tells me I’m doing all the right things. My brain tells me to be logical and know that this is all correct and I am not a horrible mother, but the feeling is stuck. It’s made me realize something though: there’s a stigma associated with diaper rashes.

If your baby has diaper rashes, you’re obviously letting them sit in a poopy diaper all day. Or maybe you never change pee diapers. Or maybe you’re using the wrong brand of disposables or the wrong detergent for cloth. You’re obviously doing something wrong though.

But no, that’s not always the case. Sometimes you can do all the right things and life still gets in the way, diaper rashes or otherwise. Parents assume they have so much control over how their kids turn out that when something does go wrong, we blame ourselves to the point of self-hatred. But we can’t control everything. You can do all the things the books say and still end up with Jeffrey Dahmer for a son or, in a little less hyperbolic example, a horrific diaper rash.

We need to stop blaming moms for things that aren’t in their power. We only see a snapshot of their lives, even with moms we’re close to. So don’t assume that the one feeding her kid a bottle willingly ignored the breastfeeding advice or the one snapping at her kid in the mall is that mean all the time. And don’t assume that the one with a kid with diaper rash is negligent. And if you’re one of the ones like me who has a kid with all sorts of rash, try to give yourself a break. You’re a great mom, diaper rash just sucks.

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3 thoughts on “The Stigma of the Diaper Rash

  1. My girls got terrible diaper rash on and off. I remember the open sores. 😦 I thought it was build-up in the cloth diapers, but am not so sure. One still has a scar about 2cm long on her upper leg where the edge of the cloth diaper rubbed the rash constantly. 😦 She can’t see it, but I see it when she is in the bath, and it makes me sad.

  2. My daughter, a fair skinned redhead, had sensitive skin from the get go too. She got her first diaper rash about the first time she wet a diaper and the issue did not really clear up until she was potty trained. She’s grown now and loves her red hair, but the sensitive skin, not so much. Oh well, ’tis life.

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