When my first child, Nuala, was 8 months old, she developed a very severe bout of diaper rash. The problem was, I had absolutely no idea she even had it. I thought I was changing my daughter’s diaper often enough, approximately every hour. My mother had told me to sprinkle cornstarch on her buttocks after each change to prevent irritation. I had a large, stainless steel shaker with handle that I kept next to her changing table filled with cornstarch. I remember feeling like I was powdering a tiny cake every time I changed a diaper. The cornstarch would leave behind a faint cloud of white dust, often making me sneeze. I found out relatively quickly that mother doesn’t always know best.
Happy Baby No More:
Nuala was a very agreeable infant. She slept through the night at 3 months old. She laughed and giggled when her daddy and I spoke to her. She never, not once, fussed during changing—not even for the occasional explosion diaper. That was until she got her first diaper rash.
I remember lying her on her pack and play to change her. As soon as I touched her thighs, near the tabs of her diaper, she began screaming. I was convinced she was just in need of a nap. Once the dirty diaper had been opened, I reached for the baby wipes to clean her genital area. She had pooped, and it was everywhere. I went through several wipes, using an up and down motion from left to right. Nuala wailed the entire time. Her little body was actually trembling, which completely freaked me out. I had no idea what was wrong, but my first instinct was to cradle my baby. Naked, I picked her up and placed her on my shoulder. I put my hand on her butt cheeks for support, and I could feel tiny bumps all over them. The sensation was very similar to getting the chills or chicken skin across your arm. There were clusters of these bumps all over my baby’s bottom.
Mostly Wonderful Weighs In:
My husband, who is fully sighted, works the midnight shift. He sleeps during the day, and I make a point never to wake him up unless there is an emergency. I felt this was something he should look at immediately. I headed up to our bedroom and turned on the light.
Bleary eyed, my husband examined our daughter. He had helped me change her diaper the night before, prior to him leaving for work. He became deeply concerned about the bumps on her buttocks. Upon turning Nuala over, he informed me that her skin was red, broken, and deeply irritated in between the rolls and folds of her chubby baby legs.
I phoned our pediatrician immediately. Despite not having an appointment, she invited us to come in that evening as an emergency visit.
Once in the exam room, our pediatrician confirmed Nuala had a severe case of diaper rash, which had also developed into a fungal infection. Her skin was blistered and red. Parts of her thighs had small, open sores on them. She immediately prescribed a topical prescription medication called Nystatin.
The doctor took my hand and ran it up and down my child. “Do you feel this?” she asked. “Touch here,” she would say as she placed my fingers on a different spot. Every touch put a tighter knot in my stomach. I was convinced I was the most incompetent, worst mother on the planet. I could literally feel the tears welling up in my eyes thinking about what I had done to my baby.
“When did you notice something,” the doctor asked. I explained what had happened during the diaper change. My husband came to my defense indicating he had helped change our daughter the night before but had only noticed a little redness, not the sores. Almost 24 hours later, the result required immediate medical intervention.
A Blind Mom’s Fear:
I remember sweating in the exam room, convinced this visit would result in a call to child services for a neglect case. My pediatrician quickly honed in on my fear. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “I’m afraid.” Then, she did the unexpected; she hugged me.
“You’ll go through worse than this,” she laughed. She reassured me that diaper rash is something that can be preventable, and she diligently reviewed steps to help me treat my baby’s case. She was patient, kind, and above all, she explained both the visual and non-visual cues to look for. Our doctor was also quick to tell me not to “beat myself up” about this situation. She noted had it not been for my maternal connection to my baby, I would have never picked her up off that changing table in the first place prompting me to feel the rash.
Diaper Rash Treatment:
We drove straight from the pediatrician’s office to our pharmacy and were provided four tubes of the Nystatin cream. I increased the frequency of my diaper changes and applied a liberal amount of the prescription medication on the front and back of my daughter for five consecutive days as directed.
Nuala’s case of diaper rash was so severe we also had to take her back to the doctor for a follow-up visit. During that time, our pediatrician advised we stop using the cornstarch and switch over to a zinc based diaper ointment. She recommended Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. This particular cream provides excellent coverage but also makes it easier to use as a visually impaired mom because the thickness leaves a raised residue. Blind or visually impaired parents will find this helpful in determining what areas you have coated with the cream.
No More Diaper Rash?:
Nuala never experienced diaper rash to that degree again. My second daughter, Aoife, never had the issue. Having been a more experienced visually impaired mom, I knew what to do and what to “feel for” so to speak. Thankfully, only my youngest remains in diapers. I am hoping to have her potty trained this summer, putting my days of Butt Paste and Pampers behind me. Fingers crossed.
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the American Foundation For the Blind’s website, Vision Aware, created to provide the blind/visually impaired with helpful tips and information relating to vision loss. Please click HERE to read this piece in it’s entirety and to find more informative articles relating to parenting while blind or visually impaired.