Calendula, let me count the ways I love you! Throughout Heckle’s nappy (diaper) days, I used a calendula cream from Weleda, often dabbing it on as a preventative, but definitely at the first sign of spots. He never had a rash, despite using a combination of cloth and disposable nappies and suffering through the realities of having a vague mother who didn’t change him as often as she should.
Heckle is probably blessed with robust skin genes from his father, but calendula also works on my dermatitis and eczema. I discovered this through my policy of testing everything Heckle uses on me first. This means, I have tasted some pretty vile medicines. Why anyone thinks fake cherry flavour will encourage babies to take medicine is beyond me. Anyway, I tried the calendula cream on my own irritated skin and it worked like a charm, whereas the standard nappy creams stung and seemed to make matters worse.
Now calendula oil is my new super oil. I soothe allergic reactions with it, wash my face with it and make hand cream with it. However, just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone and I am not a doctor so I can’t recommend it for medicinal use. So, more than ever, you will need to try it on a small spot to test for irritation and the like.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind. The humble calendula from the Mediterranean is often mistaken for a marigold and the oil is an infusion not an essential oil. This means it’s only as good as its base oil and good news if you want to make your own.
Making calendula oil
My local health food store doesn’t stock calendula oil, but I discovered that it is easy to make by warming a calendula tea bag in a cup of coconut oil or sweet almond oil over a very low heat for an hour or so, until I can smell the fragrance in the oil.
Baby bottom cream
While I was happy with the cream I was using, I thought it would be fun to make some of my own and I do like knowing what I am putting on my children’s skin. After pottering around researching, I decided to use a recipe in my well thumbed copy of (AFF) The Fragrant Pharmacy as a launching point. At it’s heart this recipe is a similar concept to the zinc and castor oil commonly used. The problem is that castor oil can be irritating for some skin types.
However, posting this recipe feels like wading out into a field of landmines – hee hee, if you know any good poo jokes, I will be in need of them to help me through the next year while I’m dealing with so many landmines – the danger is that we’re all individuals raising individuals and what works for one baby will be a disaster for another. For this reason, I will give as many options as I can before getting dazed and confused.
1. Calendula oil is, despite my prattling, an optional ingredient. It’s credited as having anti-inflamatory and skin healing properties. If you’re keen to keep things as simple as possible feel free to use one of the other oils. Macadamia, grape seed, sweet almond and jojoba all have a good relationship with the skin. 2. Beeswax can be replaced with coconut oil, depending on your preference and what is available. Just bear in mind a paste with coconut oil can vary in texture depending on the weather, as the melting point of coconut oil is about skin temperature and you’ll need to up the quantity. 3. Castor oil is on the list because it is reputed to have anti-fungal properties, which is probably why it’s been used in so many bottom creams for so long. However, the sensitive skin types may find it irritating and sourcing an ethical supplier can be challenging. I no longer use it and have since used sunflower seed oil with great success. 4. Zinc oxide is used for lots of things. It’s an ingredient in vitamin and mineral supplements, natural sunscreen, zinc cream and has a long history of being used as a protective barrier for the skin with great results. It’s available as a powder from Amazon or online aromatherapy suppliers. 5. Vitamin E is optional. It’s an antioxidant, so it’s supposed to help prolong the shelf life of the oils in the mix and is credited as having skin healing properties. 6. Lavender essential oil is optional too. It’s so hard to get adequate research on the safety of using essential oils during pregnancy and I think the same rules apply for babies. I have included it it because it is renown for soothing skin irritation and in so many baby products.
Bottom cream recipe
6 tablespoons calendula oil (or grape seed, sweet almond oil, macadamia oil or jojoba) 1 1/2 tablespoons grated beeswax 3 teaspoons sunflower, grape seed, almond or castor oil 3 teaspoons zinc oxide 1 teaspoon vitamin E to prolong the life of the cream (optional) 1 drop lavender essential oil (optional)
To make bottom cream
In a saucepan, over a low heat, melt the beeswax or coconut oil, stir in the rest of the ingredients and pour into a sterile jar.
Before using, please test on a small spot away from the more sensitive areas of bub (behind the knee is good), as natural products can be allergenic too. Also, this is a preventative type product. If your baby does develop a rash please see your healthcare professional.
*UPDATE* We’ve been using this with great success, so far. I have been applying it everyday after the bath and the only time I’ve seen a red bottom was when I stopped using it for a couple of days. I applied it at every nappy change and the irritation cleared up in a day.
I would love to hear how you dealt with nappy (diaper) rash.
Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine