Baby is allergic to diapers: what should I do?

In collaboration with Rokiyah Hosen

Relecture professionnelle

Is your baby's bottom red and irritated ? It's common for babies to have skin reactions. The most common being the famous diaper rash. Baby's skin is very fragile , and although most of the time these reactions are benign and caused by viruses or bacteria, they can sometimes be the result of an allergy.

What causes a diaper allergy?

Diaper allergies aren't actually linked to the diaper itself, but rather to the chemicals they contain.

In January 2019, ANSES (the French national agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety) published a report demonstrating the presence of harmful agents in many disposable diaper model references.

Although an allergy can create discomfort for the child, and cause redness and rashes, diaper allergy is not considered a childhood illness. However, illnesses such as eczema or asthma can have side effects that resemble an allergy.

What substances are we talking about?

These include petroleum derivatives, glyphosate, PCBs and dioxins. All these substances are extremely toxic for humans, and even more so for babies, whose skin is very fragile and sensitive. That's why it's so important to choose the right diapers for your little one, and to find out what they're made of. Also consult toxicological analysis reports. If the analyses are not readily available, this is not a good sign.

How to recognize a diaper allergy?

An allergy is when the body's immune system overreacts to foreign substances, called allergens. There are several types of allergy (food, respiratory, drug and contact), leading to inflammatory reactions, often localized.

Allergy to diapers can develop through prolonged contact with the diaper. Inflammatory skin reactions (redness, itching, hot and painful skin) can have multiple origins, and are sometimes difficult to identify. If babies develop allergies easily, it's worth knowing how to recognize them.

Redness, irritation and itching

If, when you change your baby's diaper, you notice that he or she has red patches on areas such as the bottom, tummy, lower back or thighs, which are not usual, it could be an allergy.

When allergic to disposable diapers, you may also notice itching and irritation. Irritation can take the form of skin lesions.

Itching can easily make your baby nervous and irritable. It can make him wake up at night, cry when he's being changed or touched , etc.

If the redness and skin lesions ooze, become infected and are accompanied by itching, it may be a case of mycosis, candidiasis (infection by a fungus), or impetigo (caused by bacteria).

Scales and red patches

Next, you can recognize an allergy by the presence of red patches or scales on your little one's skin. The skin may become painful, swollen and hot.

If the red patches are accompanied by itching in the seat area, and the appearance of the patches is rather rough, this may suggest eczema. If, on the other hand, the red patches are associated with itchless scales, it's more likely to be a case of psoriasis of the diaper area. This is a skin inflammation caused by excessive renewal of epidermal cells. The keratinocytes (self-renewing cells) don't have enough time to eliminate themselves, leading to an accumulation of scales.

Papules, vesicles and pustules

Finally, small pimples such as papules, blisters (vesicles) or pustules (whitish-colored pimples containing pu) are also symptomatic of a diaper allergy.

At what age can a baby develop an allergy?

All children are susceptible to allergies. However, they react differently to toxic products, to a greater or lesser extent.

Children born prematurely and those with naturally dry or atopic skin are more prone to skin allergies.

How can you tell the difference between an allergy and diaper rash?

L'diaper rash is a skin irritation caused by prolonged contact with baby's urine or stools.

It takes the form of redness, the appearance of small pimples and shiny patches. These symptoms appear in the area covered by the diaper: buttocks, genitals and upper thighs.

To avoid diaper rash, you should change your child's diaper regularly, as soon as he or she has urinated or had a bowel movement, approximately every 3 to 4 hours. Remember also to air your baby's bottom several times a day for a few minutes.

What to do in case of diaper allergy?

If you notice symptoms identical to those described above, visit your paediatrician to find out the cause of the irritation and avoid confusing allergy with other pathologies.

You can also consult an allergist to determine more precisely which diaper components are responsible for the irritation. In case of diaper rash, don't use liniment, as the basic ph of the lime water in liniment can accentuate redness.

Changing diaper brands

The first thing to do is to change diaper brand so that baby's skin is no longer in contact with the allergen in question. The recommended diaper brands are :

  • Fragrance-free diapers (without perfume or lotion);
  • With latex-free elastics;
  • If printed on the diaper, the ink should be solvent-free;
  • Bleached according to the TCF (Total Chlorine Free) method;
  • Made from organic materials to guarantee pesticide-free use;
  • No moisture indicator.

Beware of claims such as "tested under dermatologicalcontrol" or "hypoallergenic", as these are compulsory claims which in no way guarantee that the diaper is healthy for your child.

We recommend that you choose ecological or organic disposable diapers. They use natural materials, some of which are biodegradable, add no perfumes, and contain no endocrine disruptors or harmful agents. The training pants are also a perfect alternative to disposable diapers. As well as saving money, you'll keep baby dry and help him potty train like a big kid!

If you use cloth diapers, an allergy may be triggered by the use of certain materials, as well as certain detergents and fabric softeners , which contain irritants that promote rashes.

Prevent allergies with regular diaper changes

To avoid irritation, diaper rash, allergies and other inconveniences, it's essential to change your baby regularly. You should change your baby every time he or she feeds, and as soon as the diaper is full of stool. Prolonged contact between stool and baby's skin leads to maceration, and the acidity of stool and urine can irritate the skin.

We also advise you touse organic and natural hygiene products. Choose liniment which is excellent for preventing irritation. It moisturizes and protects your baby's fragile skin.

Get a cream from a doctor

In case of allergy or if the redness doesn't go away, your doctor will prescribe a zinc oxide-based cream, most of the time. This helps to heal the allergy or diaper rash, thanks to the healing properties of the cream, which should be applied to the lesions in sufficient quantity.

Diaper allergy FAQ

How to treat an allergy to baby's diapers?

To prevent diaper rash, you need to change your baby's diaper regularly. If you notice symptoms of an allergy, change your diaper brand to avoid exposing your baby to the allergen. Visit your doctor to prescribe a zinc oxide cream to relieve the lesions.

How can I tell if my baby is diaper-challenged?

If you notice redness, red patches, pimples, irritation, itching in the area around the bottom, nervousness, irritability, crying and waking up at night, it could be an allergy.

Can an allergy cause breech dermatitis?

To prevent the allergy from worsening, make an appointment with your paediatrician or doctor as soon as possible. He or she will be able to determine the origin of the irritation.

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