Are Cloth Diapers Good for Babies With Diaper Rash?

By Chelsea Fitzgerald
Choosing between cloth and disposable diapers is a personal choice.
Choosing between cloth and disposable diapers is a personal choice.

Parents with babies who are prone to diaper rash often wonder if cloth or disposable diapers are the wiser choice for the infant. Knowing how to prevent and treat diaper rash helps remedy the situation no matter what type of diaper you use.

What Causes Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash is a common occurrence with infants and the presence doesn’t make you a bad parent. Babies have sensitive skin that is easily aggravated by chemicals, the friction from the diaper and the presence of urine or feces, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website. The irritated skin is also more prone to bacteria that cause infections and problems with yeast. These can make the rash worse.

Do Cloth Diapers Exacerbate the Condition?

Despite the ads and media to the contrary, disposable diapers only keep the baby’s bottom slightly drier, as stated by the Mayo Clinic website. The best way to ensure that your baby doesn’t get diaper rash or -- if he does -- that it doesn’t become a chronic problem is to keep the baby’s bottom clean and dry. The type of diaper is a personal choice dependent on what works best for you and your infant.

Helpful Hints When Using Cloth Diapers

Soak any heavily soiled diapers before washing them. Do this in a clean mop bucket or other large plastic container with water and a small amount of detergent. Always wash the cloth diapers in hot water using mild detergents and fabric softeners that are fragrance-free; this decreases the risk of irritation. Set your washing machine on the double rinse cycle. This prevents any residual detergent or chemicals that may exacerbate a diaper rash. Adding about a half cup of white vinegar to the rinse water helps reduce any alkaline irritants that may aggravate your baby’s skin, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website. Many busy parents use a diaper service. Talk with personnel to ensure that they use these same guidelines when laundering the diapers.

Preventing Diaper Rash

The diaper -- whether cloth or disposable -- needs to be snug, yet not so tight that it prevents airflow. A moist environment increases the risk of developing a rash. Frequently check your infant’s diaper to see if he is wet or soiled. If so, change it right away. Newborns may require a fresh diaper as often as every 2 hours. Use baby wipes that are alcohol- and fragrance-free to clean your baby’s bottom after every diaper change. If the infant has a rash, use a cotton ball or soft washcloth dampened with water to clean the area. Allow your baby’s bottom to air dry occasionally to help prevent rashes. Simply clean his bottom and then lay him on a towel to prevent messy accidents. Avoid scrubbing the baby’s skin with a towel after his bath or a diaper change. Simply blot the area dry to prevent irritation. Use a diaper rash cream or ointment anytime you see a rash. Check the label on the ointment; those with petroleum or zinc oxide work best. If your child gets diaper rash frequently, it is permissible to use a petroleum ointment after every diaper change to provide a barrier against moisture. Wash your hands after each diaper change to prevent you from spreading yeast or bacteria to other parts of your infant’s body or to other people.

About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.