Simon met the yeast monster this summer.
We first asked about it at his 4 month appointment, and I asked about it again at his 6 month appointment with a different doctor (we had moved), and it took another few weeks after that to get rid of it. Back and forth for over 2 months! A valiant opponent, it won many a battle…but we finally won the war.
On one of the cloth diapering websites I am on, someone asked about yeast and I had such a lengthy response I thought “Hm, this sounds like a blog post”. So here we are.
First things first:
How did he get a yeast rash?
Everyone has yeast in their body, so a yeast rash is just an overpopulation. Anyone is more susceptible to them when they are on antibiotics, because antibiotics kill all bacteria, good and bad. You need the good bacteria to keep the yeast at bay. Simon wasn’t on antibiotics, he just had a rash that got infected with yeast. It happens.
How do you know if you have a yeast rash?
For us, we went to the doctor. Simon had a rash that persisted for about a week. We waited because he had his 4 month appointment scheduled already, and he proclaimed it yeast immediately. Yeast rashes tend to be very red, and a little puffy. If it gets to the point of being full blown, you’ll probably find it in skin folds because yeast likes moist dark environments. Sometimes you’ll find satellite areas, away from the main rash, that are also little patches of yeast. If you have a rash that has been hanging around more than a few days that isn’t getting better with your over the counter cream, it could be yeast.
Well, how do I get rid of it?
If you’re using disposable diapers, you can use an antifungal, and it will should go away. This is usually something like Lotrimin. I found that I much preferred the sprays to the creams. When I used the cream, despite my best hand washing efforts, I ended up with mild athlete’s foot every time his rash flared up. Using a spray was better because I didn’t have to actually touch his diaper area to spread on cream. Additionally, the spray lasts much longer than the cream. You can also use Lotrimin and the like if you are using cloth diapers, but you’ll need some kind of diaper liner. You don’t want that stuff getting into your diapers. Microfleece is a popular choice, all you need to do is buy some and cut it up. You can get it from Joanns, or every WalMart, and there is no sewing required. We use liners made from something similar to athletic shirt material, and I love them. I feel like they keep him much drier than the microfleece. I also bathed Simon in mild apple cider vinegar baths, and was given the advice to put plain yogurt on his diaper area. We didn’t get the chance to try that one, but if you’ve got it, try it!
Do I need to do anything to my diapers?
In a word, YES. The yeast will live on in your baby’s diapers. In my initial research, I heard a lot of talk of bleaching. My diaper manufacturer does not recommend bleaching, in fact, it voids their warranty. Plus, I was all about trying to keep things as natural as possible. So I tried treating them with grapefruit seed extract (GFSE), which didn’t work. I did that before we moved, he used disposables while we were moving, and as soon as I put him back in the diapers, it came back. I did the same with tea tree oil (TTO), and had similar results, although it did smell nice! I asked the manufacturer after that, and they said to just go ahead and bleach them. I hemmed and hawed for a bit, then threw in a cup of bleach. I am so glad that I did, and I wish I had just done it sooner. If you have YEAST, you should BLEACH. Just save yourself the trouble, your time, and the cost (good TTO can be expensive).
Does yeast mean thrush?
I don’t know about other breastfeeding mamas, but thrush to me sounds like an evil curse. I was, and still am, so scared of getting it. I mean, if getting yeast out of diapers is bad, I couldn’t imagine getting an overgrowth out of baby’s mouth, and my breast. So when Simon came down with this pretty gnarly yeast rash, I was worried that this meant we also had thrush that just had yet to surface. Every pinch, every tingle, and I was sure it was only a matter of time before my letdowns felt like glass shards, and his mouth would be smattered with white spots. But it didn’t happen. Be diligent about hand washing, especially after diaper changes and before feedings. Remember, you always will have yeast in your body, thrush is just another overpopulation of yeast. If you do have thrush, obviously take measures to rebalance your yeast, but just because your baby has a yeast diaper rash, does not mean thrush is eminent. Whew.
How can yeast overpopulation be prevented?
1. If you’re breastfeeding, take a probiotic. Whether or not your baby has been on antibiotics, the extra helpful bacteria will help keep the yeast in line. Children can take probiotics themselves, but depending on your child’s age, I would either consult the box for older children, or your doctor for a young baby.
2. While the natural remedies weren’t the best for eliminating yeast, I do think they are helpful as natural antifungals for yeast prevention. Simon’s cloth wipe wash from Bee Green Naturals has tea tree oil in it. So does the easy to find spray from California Baby that we use when on the go (we get it right at Target). My most favorite product though, is the California Baby Calming Non-Talc Powder. Before we started using this, I would daydream of potty training, thinking he was going to have yeast rashes on and off for the rest of his little diapering life. It has cornstarch in it, so I would be wary of using it to eliminate a rash (yeast feeds on cornstarch!!), but once it is gone, this stuff is absolutely amazing. It is smooth and silky, has tea tree oil, kaolin clay and chamomile in it, and just keeps his little baby area so nice and dry. That’s really the key here, staying dry. It smells nice too.
3. Naked time is another good way to prevent prevent yeast from growing. Keep baby dry and change diapers as often as you reasonably can.
4. More bleach. Look, I really don’t want to deal with yeast again. That poor rash made me so sad. So, now that they’ve been bleached once, I just go ahead and bleach once a month. I do my diaper laundry three times a week, and I assume that pretty much gets all the diapers through. So the first week of every month, I throw in a 1/2 cup of bleach to each load.
5. Our detergent now has GFSE in it! We are using BioKleen, just another perk. Any little bit helps, right? Biokleen’s Bac-Out is also supposed to be great for yeast, and while we have it now, we didn’t have it while our yeast fight was underway.
6. Using wool or fleece diaper covers overnight are another big help for Simon, with a fitted underneath, although you could also use a flat or prefold. The breathability of these fabrics keep more air flowing through, and keep his bum more dry!
One thing that people disagree on when it comes to yeast is the sun. The sun is touted as being a miracle worker because it is antibacterial. Don’t get me wrong, that is super cool. The sun does some amazing things:
Yes, the sun takes stains out of diapers. Other things too, I’m sure. But antibacterial and antifungal are not the same thing. Will it hurt to sun your diapers when you have yeast? Of course not. Will it eliminate your yeast problem? Probably not.
As far as I’m concerned, the same goes for white vinegar. Yes, I use white vinegar in my diaper laundry on occasion, but it is also antibacterial, not antifungal. It won’t hurt or help. Apple cider vinegar is antifungal (which is why baths with it helps), but you can’t put that in your washing machine.
Thus ends our story of how we battled the yeast monster and won. In true middle school book report fashion, the summary of this blog post is: yeast is okay, bleach it away, dry baby must stay.
The two months that we were dealing with this was so stressful for me, but knowing what I know now, yeast really isn’t that scary (look at that monster, he’s even smiling…harmless little guy). You can keep your baby in cloth the whole time, and there are a wealth of remedies that can be used to treat and prevent.
I love hearing from you! As always you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have a question, or you think I missed something!