Sep 25, 2010

Homemade Recipe for Diaper Rash Salve

Homemade Salve and Hand Mixer Emulsifier
posted by Mama Hope | April 10th, 2008 in Eco-Diapering 
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Homemade Salve
(You’ll see the salad dressing emulsifier I use pictured below, no need to buy one, however: just use a wire whisk or hand mixer.)

This recipe is essentially for a non-petroleum jelly, much easier to make than a cream and with less ingredients. To make a cream, see modifications below.
You can use any plant-based oil you’d like. For affordability, I use olive oil. To make roughly 2 ounces, which should last you 1-2 months, you’ll need:
2 ounces olive oil
1/2 ounce beeswax or approx. 2 tablespoons, grated
1 capsule Vitamin E , squeezed out (optional)
6 drops grapefruit seed extract (optional, as preservative)
small jar or small makeup or lotion container
double boiler
wire whisk, electric mixer, or hand emulsifier (see my pic)
rubber spatula

In a pinch you can do without the double boiler, but be sure that the pot you’re using is easy to scrape out clean. First pour the oil into the top of the double boiler over low heat. Add slightly less of the grated beeswax than called for and stir until melted.
Next is the only tricky part: test the consistency of the mixture by putting a small amount on a teaspoon and placing it in the refrigerator. (In the meantime your salve should remain on low heat on the stovetop.) After a minute in the frig, the salve will harden to its finished consistency. Check this — it should be firm so that it does not melt when you touch it, but soft enough that you can easily pull some away from the spoon with your finger (like petroleum jelly). If it’s too hard, add more oil, if it’s too soft, add more beeswax. When you’ve reached a good consistency, remove from heat and add the Vitamin E and grapefruit seed extract. Give it a good mix until creamy, then add it to your container and let it cool to room temperature. Voila!

Herbal Salve

To make an herbal version of your salve, you’ll need to infuse the oil in advance. To do so, simply fill a small airtight jar with calendula, chamomile, or your herb of choice. Fill the jar to the brim with oil and seal it tightly. Turn the jar upside down, and set it on a towel in an area that gets light but does not get too warm. After about a week, strain out the herbs and store in a cool, dry place until you use it for salves or general skin care!
For my diaper rash salve, I avoid one of the more obvious herbal choices: comfrey. Comfrey is commonly used in skin salves, however it can have serious side effects when taken orally. Since we’re making this salve for our baby, I choose the safe side and simply do not use it.
A word on preservative: The above recipe uses grapefruit seed extract as a preservative and also to help minimize bacteria in the diaper area. Some experts, however, have stated recently that grapefruit seed extract is not as “natural” a preservative as we previously have thought. My big plan is to do some research on this, but until then, you can really leave it out, as long as you make your salve in small batches. Or you can use a combination of Vitamin A and C powders with Vitamin E oil.
[Edit: I no longer recommend grapefruit seed extract, except as necessary in cases of extreme rash, as per my research, as promised, on the safety of grapefruit seed extract. Read more in my recent post.]
Just loving it and wanting more? I’m not an herbalist myself, but I’m having lots of fun! The techniques above are adapted from recipes and instructions from two great books: Better Basics for the Home (aff) by Annie Berthold-Bond and The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm. Both have lots of recipes and recommendations for homemade concoctions, with clear directions and adaptations for more or less difficulty.

Modifications for a Diaper Rash Cream

To make a cream instead of a salve, you’ll need to include an oil that is solid at room temperature. Instead of 2 ounces olive oil, substitute 2-1/2 ounces cocoa butter or coconut oil, plus 1-1/2 ounces olive oil or your oil of choice. After melting the wax, remove from heat and add 4 ounces distilled water before blending. Optionally add a tablespoon or two of zinc oxide powder.

Newborn Diaper Rash

For newborns, your best bet is to use pure olive oil from the get go and transition after the first weeks to a salve as above. The meconium chocolate poo-stuff is *very* sticky and difficult to clean. We used olive oil spread around the area after every diaper changing. This coats a nice layer, both protecting the skin and making it easier to clean for the next changing!

How Does It Work?

Homemade SalveIn browsing the forums, I learned that what has worked for many moms for years is petroleum jelly. It follows the same concept as for newborns above, protecting the skin with a fine layer. Petroleum jelly is easier to handle than oils and works fine once you get past the meconium stage. However, petroleum jelly is made from, guess what, petroleum. Therefore not only is it a limited resource but it’s also mineral and not plant based. For baby’s health (and your own) it’s better in general to use eco-friendly plant-based oils as opposed to mineral-based. So, what we’ve made is essentially a ‘non-petroleum jelly’ that seals the skin to protect it from what’s happening in the diaper.
Natural, plant-based oils are great for baby’s skin. And avoidance of mineral-based oils goes for ‘baby oil’ too! Try almond oil or plain inexpensive olive oil instead. Almond oil works great for baby massages! And food-based oils are as pure as you can get.

Preventing Diaper Rash

Here’s what I do. To use the salve, I just rub some onto the skin after using wipes, including the creases of the skin and not just the obvious bits. You can use it at each change, or just use it when and if the skin becomes pinkish. As long as you’re changing your baby often and using natural fibers that breathe easily, you shouldn’t need it every day. You’ll keep the rash away best if you change immediately after a soiled diaper, and as soon as possible after wet ones.
I also wipe after wet changes, just to be sure the area is clean. It’s the mixture of acids in urine with the ingredients in baby number two’s that’s likely to cause a rash. Scientific version? From Wikipedia and Wolf, R., Wolf, D., Tuzun, B. & Tuzun, Y. (2001) Diaper Dermatitis. Clinics in Dermatology:

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