Aquaphor and Maalox for Diaper Rash: A Comprehensive Guide

May 22, 2024

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Diaper rash is an extremely common condition that causes a baby’s skin to become red, irritated, and painful in the diaper area. Nearly every baby will experience diaper rash at some point, especially between 9-12 months old when they are sitting in a wet or soiled diaper more frequently. [3] While diaper rash is rarely serious, it can be very uncomfortable for your little one.

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to soothe your baby’s sore bottom and help the rash heal as quickly as possible. You may have heard about using Aquaphor and Maalox as a home remedy for diaper rash. But does this combination really work? And is it safe for your baby’s delicate skin?

In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about using Aquaphor and Maalox for diaper rash treatment. We’ll cover:

  • What causes diaper rash
  • Symptoms of diaper rash
  • Traditional diaper rash treatments
  • How Aquaphor and Maalox may help treat diaper rash
  • Step-by-step instructions for making an Aquaphor & Maalox diaper rash paste
  • Precautions and when to see a doctor
  • Other effective home remedies and prevention tips

By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of whether the Aquaphor Maalox diaper rash remedy is right for your baby, along with plenty of other safe and proven treatment options. Let’s dive in!

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What Causes Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash, also known as diaper dermatitis, is a generic term referring to any inflammatory skin rash that develops in the diaper-covered area. [3] A baby’s skin is very delicate and sensitive. Prolonged exposure to wetness, stool, urine, and friction from the diaper can easily trigger irritation.

Some of the most common causes of diaper rash include:

  • Irritation from urine and stool: Prolonged contact with urine and feces is the primary cause of diaper rash. Urine quickly breaks down into ammonia, which is very irritating to the skin. Stool contains digestive enzymes that can also be harsh on a baby’s bottom. [4]
  • Chafing and rubbing: Tight-fitting diapers and clothing can rub against the skin, leading to chafing and rash, especially when the skin is already irritated. [4]
  • Introduction of new foods: As babies start eating solid foods, the content of their stool changes. This can increase the likelihood of diaper rash. New foods can also affect the frequency of stools, which means more contact with irritants. [5]
  • Bacterial or yeast infections: The warm, moist environment under a diaper is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, especially Candida. These rashes tend to develop in the skin folds. [4]
  • Sensitive skin: Babies with skin conditions like eczema or atopic dermatitis are more prone to diaper rash. [5]
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics kill bacteria – both the bad and the good. This can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and yeast on the skin. Babies taking antibiotics, and breastfed babies whose mothers are on antibiotics, have a higher risk of diaper rash. [5]
  • Irritation from new products: Disposable diapers, wipes, lotions, soaps and detergents can all contain harsh chemicals that irritate some babies’ skin. [4]

Understanding the underlying cause of your baby’s diaper rash can help guide the most effective treatment. However, the general principles of keeping the skin clean, dry, and protected apply in most cases.

Symptoms of Diaper Rash

Diaper rash can range from mild to severe, with the following symptoms: [3]

  • Skin in the diaper area (buttocks, thighs, genitals) appears red and irritated
  • Affected areas may feel warm to the touch
  • Rash can be a few small spots or cover the entire diaper region
  • In severe cases, skin may be raw or bleeding
  • Babies with a bad rash may cry or seem more irritable, especially during diaper changes

If the rash doesn’t start improving within a few days of home treatment, spreads to other areas of the body, or is accompanied by fever, blisters, boils, pus, or bleeding, it’s important to have your pediatrician take a look. [5] These could be signs of a yeast or bacterial infection that requires medical treatment.

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Traditional Diaper Rash Treatments

The best diaper rash treatment is prevention – by keeping your baby’s skin clean and dry and changing diapers very frequently. However, once a rash develops, the key is to soothe the skin, reduce inflammation, and protect the irritated area from further contact with urine and stool to allow it to heal. Here are some of the most effective ways to treat diaper rash:

Frequent Diaper Changes and Gentle Cleansing

The most important step is to keep your baby’s bottom as clean and dry as possible. Change wet or soiled diapers immediately, cleansing the skin gently with water or a mild soap. Allow the area to air dry or pat gently with a soft cloth before applying a thick layer of a protective diaper rash cream or ointment. [1]

Increase Airflow

Leave your baby’s bottom exposed to air as much as possible to help the skin dry out and heal. Lay your baby on a towel and play with them diaper-free for a few minutes several times per day. When you do use a diaper, fasten it loosely and consider using a larger size to reduce friction and chafing. [1]

Apply a Barrier Cream

Thick, petroleum jelly or zinc oxide based creams and ointments like Aquaphor, Desitin, A+D, or Boudreaux’s Butt Paste help soothe the skin and protect it from moisture and irritants. Apply a generous layer that resembles frosting a cake with each diaper change. There’s no need to vigorously remove the cream with each change – just gently pat clean and apply a fresh layer on top. [1][5]

Avoid Irritants

Steer clear of using baby wipes when there is an active rash – use plain water or a soft washcloth instead. Wipes can burn and further irritate the skin. Also avoid scented soaps, lotions, and detergents that can be harsh on a baby’s skin. [1]

If the rash persists or seems to be worsening after a few days of these measures, it’s time to consult your pediatrician. They may recommend a mild hydrocortisone cream or prescribe an antifungal or antibiotic ointment if the rash has become infected.

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The Aquaphor & Maalox Remedy for Diaper Rash

You may have seen posts on parenting forums or social media touting a homemade diaper rash remedy made with Aquaphor healing ointment and liquid Maalox antacid. Some parents swear this unlikely combination clears up even the worst diaper rash overnight. But what’s the science behind it?

How It Supposedly Works

The theory is that the Maalox, which contains aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide, helps neutralize the acids in stool and urine that irritate the skin. The aluminum may also act as an astringent to help dry the rash. [2]

Meanwhile, the Aquaphor provides a thick occlusive barrier to protect the skin from further irritation while locking in moisture to promote healing. Aquaphor’s key ingredient is petroleum jelly, along with mineral oil, ceresin, lanolin alcohol, panthenol, glycerin, and bisabolol. [13]

How to Make the Aquaphor & Maalox Paste

According to the most common recipe shared online, you mix together equal parts of:

  • Aquaphor healing ointment
  • Maalox liquid (original or mint-free version)
  • Zinc oxide diaper rash cream (like Desitin, Balmex, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, etc.)

Combine the ingredients well in a small bowl until you have a thick white paste. Apply a generous layer to the clean, dry diaper area at each change. You can store extra paste in the refrigerator. [11]

Some variations add in vitamin A&D ointment (unless the baby has a yeast rash) or substitute the Maalox with another liquid antacid like Mylanta. [11]

Parents who have tried this remedy report seeing an improvement in their baby’s rash within a few hours, with many claiming the rash is completely gone after just a couple days of consistent application. [11]

Is It Safe and Effective?

Despite the anecdotal success stories, no scientific studies have been conducted on this diaper rash treatment. Pediatricians and pharmacists express caution about the safety and efficacy of using Maalox on a baby’s skin.

While Aquaphor and zinc oxide are standard diaper rash remedies, Maalox is not intended for topical use, especially on broken skin. A baby’s skin is much more permeable than an adult’s. With an open rash, there is an increased risk of the aluminum and magnesium in the Maalox being absorbed into the bloodstream. [2]

Additionally, the Maalox may actually counteract the protective barrier effects of the Aquaphor and zinc oxide cream. By drying out the skin, it could delay healing. There’s also a risk of further irritation from any dyes or flavorings in the antacid. [2]

For these reasons, it’s best to stick to using products specifically designed for diaper rash and approved for use on babies. If you’re looking for a diaper rash cream that contains zinc oxide and petroleum jelly, you can simply combine an over-the-counter zinc oxide paste with plain Vaseline or Aquaphor.

Of course, always consult your pediatrician before trying any new diaper rash treatment, especially if you have concerns about the severity of the rash or it isn’t responding to standard measures. While the Aquaphor Maalox remedy may work for some babies, it’s not worth the potential risks when there are plenty of other safe and proven options.

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Other Home Remedies for Diaper Rash

In addition to diaper rash creams and frequent changes, some parents find success with natural home remedies to soothe their baby‘s irritated skin. Here are a few safe options to try:

Oatmeal Baths

Colloidal oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve redness and itching. Add a cup of finely ground oats to your baby’s warm bath water and let them soak for 10-15 minutes. Gently pat the skin dry afterwards. [6]

Breast Milk

Breast milk is packed with antibodies, growth factors, and anti-inflammatory substances. Some studies suggest applying expressed breast milk to diaper rash can help it heal faster, likely due to its antimicrobial properties. Gently pat a few drops onto the rash and allow to air dry before applying a barrier cream. [7]

Coconut Oil

Virgin coconut oil has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties. A small study found it to be an effective treatment for diaper rash when applied topically. [8] However, use caution, as coconut oil can degrade the absorbency of diapers and cause leaks. Always consult your pediatrician before using oils on broken skin.

Cornstarch

Some parents find sprinkling a little cornstarch on top of diaper cream can help absorb moisture and reduce friction. However, use cornstarch with caution, as inhaling the fine particles can irritate a baby’s lungs. Avoid using it on a yeast rash, as the starch may actually feed the yeast. [9]

Baking Soda

Adding 2 tablespoons of baking soda to a warm bath can help neutralize acids on the skin and promote healing. [10] Make sure the bath water isn’t too hot, as that can further dry and irritate the skin.

Remember, natural remedies can still cause reactions in some babies. It’s always best to do a small patch test and watch for any signs of irritation before applying a new substance to a larger area. When in doubt, stick to plain water, frequent changes, and a good zinc oxide or petroleum-based diaper cream.

Preventing Diaper Rash

While you may not be able to avoid diaper rash completely, there are steps you can take to significantly reduce its occurrence:

  1. Change diapers frequently. Aim to change your baby every 2 hours during the day, immediately after every poop, and once overnight.
  2. Rinse cloth diapers thoroughly. Pre-soak heavily soiled cloth diapers and use hot water and a mild detergent for washing. Double rinse to remove all traces of soap.
  3. Avoid overtightening diapers. Tight diapers can chafe and hold moisture against the skin. Fasten diapers loosely and consider going up a size if you’re seeing red marks.
  4. Use a barrier cream regularly. Applying a thin layer of a zinc oxide or petroleum jelly-based cream with each change can help protect the skin, even when no rash is present.
  5. Let your baby go diaper-free. Allowing the diaper area to air out can work wonders for preventing and healing rashes. Place your baby on a towel and give them some naked tummy time each day.
  6. Consider your wipes and diapers. If your baby seems prone to rashes, try switching to hypoallergenic, fragrance-free wipes or just using plain water. You may also want to experiment with different brands of disposable diapers or consider trying cloth.
  7. Introduce new foods slowly. When starting solids, space out new foods a few days apart to isolate any potential reactions. If a certain food seems to trigger a rash, scale back and reintroduce it later.
  8. Avoid irritants. Steer clear of scented soaps, lotions, and detergents. Wash your baby’s clothes and cloth diapers in a mild, fragrance-free detergent.
  9. Boost beneficial bacteria. If your baby is prone to yeast rashes, consider giving a probiotic supplement or yogurt (if over 6 months) to help restore a healthy bacterial balance in the gut and on the skin. [12]
  10. Keep things clean and dry. Always wash your hands before and after changes. Pat your baby’s bottom dry with a soft cloth and make sure skin folds are clean and dry.

When to See a Doctor

While most diaper rashes are easily treated at home, there are times when it’s important to get your pediatrician involved. Contact your baby’s doctor if:

  • The rash doesn’t start to improve after 2-3 days of home treatment
  • The rash is severe, with broken skin, blisters, or bleeding
  • Your baby has a fever
  • The rash is spreading beyond the diaper area
  • Your baby seems to be in a lot of pain
  • You suspect a yeast or bacterial infection (bright red rash with red dots spreading beyond the main area, pus-filled bumps, or sores)

Your pediatrician can assess the rash, determine if an infection is present, and prescribe an appropriate treatment. They may recommend an over-the-counter or prescription antifungal or antibiotic cream, or a mild topical steroid to reduce inflammation.

In rare cases, a persistent diaper rash could be a sign of an underlying condition like psoriasis, eczema, impetigo, or seborrheic dermatitis. [13] Always consult your pediatrician if you have concerns about the severity or duration of your baby’s rash.

The Bottom Line

Diaper rash is a common and usually harmless condition, but it can cause discomfort and distress for babies and parents alike. While home remedies like the Aquaphor and Maalox paste may seem appealing, it’s important to use caution and common sense. Stick to treatments that are backed by scientific evidence and approved for use on babies.

In most cases, frequent diaper changes, gentle cleansing, and a good zinc oxide or petroleum jelly-based barrier cream will clear up a rash within a few days. Giving your baby plenty of diaper-free time and avoiding potential irritants can also go a long way in preventing and managing rashes.

Remember, every baby’s skin is unique. What works for one may not work for another. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different diaper brands, wipes, and creams until you find the right combination for your little one. And always trust your instincts – if a rash seems severe or isn’t responding to home treatment, don’t wait to contact your pediatrician for guidance.

With a little trial and error and a lot of patience, you’ll soon find the diaper rash prevention and treatment strategies that work best for your baby. Those soft, smooth baby buns will be back in no time!

Key Takeaways

  • Diaper rash is caused by prolonged exposure to moisture, friction, irritants, and bacteria or yeast. Keeping your baby’s skin clean and dry is the best prevention and treatment.
  • Change diapers frequently, gently cleanse the skin, and apply a thick barrier cream containing zinc oxide or petroleum jelly (like Aquaphor or Desitin) at each change.
  • Give your baby diaper-free time to let the skin air out and avoid tight-fitting diapers and irritating soaps, wipes, and detergents.
  • The Aquaphor and Maalox diaper rash remedy is not scientifically proven or recommended by doctors. Stick to products intended for use on babies’ skin.
  • Other home remedies like oatmeal baths, breast milk, coconut oil, cornstarch, and baking soda may help soothe rashes, but always do a patch test first.
  • See your pediatrician if the rash is severe, not improving after a few days of home treatment, or showing signs of infection. They can prescribe a medicated cream if needed.

References

  1. Diaper rash – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diaper-rash/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20371640
  2. Maalox, Aquaphor, & Butt Paste for Diaper Rash – Dr. Greene. https://www.drgreene.com/qa-articles/maalox-aquaphor-butt-paste-diaper-rash/
  3. Klumpke Palsy – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531500/
  4. Diaper Rash: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention – Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/diaper-rash
  5. Diaper rash – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diaper-rash/symptoms-causes/syc-20371636
  6. Colloidal oatmeal: history, chemistry and clinical properties – PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17373175/
  7. Topical application of human breast milk reduces skin breakdown in very low birth weight infants – PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25207440/
  8. The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial – PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25109411/
  9. Can You Use Cornstarch for Diaper Rash? – Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/cornstarch-for-diaper-rash
  10. Baking Soda Bath for Diaper Rash: Does It Work? – Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/baking-soda-bath-for-diaper-rash
  11. 23 Natural & Home Remedies for Diaper Rash – Mama Natural. https://www.mamanatural.com/diaper-rash-remedies/
  12. Do Probiotics Help Diaper Rash? – Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/probiotics-for-diaper-rash
  13. Aquaphor Healing Ointment – Aquaphor. https://www.aquaphorus.com/healing-ointment/
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