There is no evidence to suggest that babies are more likely to get nappy rash in cloth nappies than disposables.
In fact, some studies have found that babies wearing 100% cotton cloth nappies, (which are both cool and breathable) next to their skin are 5 times less likely to get nappy rash than those in disposable nappies (which contain plastics, perfumes and chemical gels).
Changing your baby often, when wet or soiled, whether in disposable or cloth nappies are the best way to avoid nappy rash. Other factors which can affect nappy rash include general health and nutrition.
If your baby does seem to be sensitive to cloth nappies, it is most likely to be the washing powder or process that will be the problem, rather than the nappies themselves. Detergents are alkaline while your baby’s skin is slightly acidic. We suggest always adding an extra rinse cycle to your nappy wash to extract any remaining detergent. It is also worth using only half the usual amount of washing powder in a wash or even using a liquid which should leave less of a residue. In areas with chlorinated (and therefore more alkaline water) a tablespoon of vinegar will help to restore the ph balance.
Other causes of irritation
Some children develop nappy rash as they are sensitive to certain foods. If you find that they are developing irritation after pooing, even if you are changing almost immediately, it might be worth considering what they are eating. Oranges or other acidic food can cause problems for some children, leading to nappy rash.
Teething is another cause of nappy rash, and many children who have previously had no problems get redness around teething. The increase in saliva due to teething effects their poo, leading to nappy rash. Plenty of nappy free time, and changing regularly can help with this.
Dealing with nappy rash
You may find that at times you will need to do more than changing regularly and plenty of nappy free time. Barrier creams can help but may coat the fibres of your nappies stopping them from being so absorbent. A disposable liner can prevent this from happening, protecting the nappy.
There are some cloth friendly barriers that you can use. Egg white, whipped until fluffy and then painted onto your little one’s bottom and then allowed to dry can form an effective barrier. Cornflower also acts as a barrier and helps to keep skin dry.
Chamomile tea is a good natural treatment for nappy rash, either use it to wash your little one’s bottom with or even place a wipe soaked in the chamomile tea against your babies skin in the nappy.
Bad nappy rash
If your little one starts to suffer from really bad nappy rash, particularly with broken or bleeding skin then you should visit the doctor. It may be that they have developed thrush and need an anti-fungal treatment. Should this be the case then you will also need to hot wash all the nappies to make sure that it has been killed and removed on them too.