Warning: This post contains the word “discharge,” a discussion of toddler privates and one more reason not to spend hard-earned money on throw-away diapers. But it might help someone, so I’m putting it out there.
Now that M is pretty much a pro with using the potty, on our last vacation to see the family, we didn’t bother packing up the overnight cloth diapers. Instead, we figured we’d just pick up a pack of disposable training pants when we got there. The Pull-Ups were a functional substitute on the previous trip to Florida when our diapers just plain stopped holding all of his massive amounts of pee. Since he was sort of in-training at the time, it made sense, and the little designs on the front that disappear when the diaper’s wet were enough of a novelty for him that it seemed to help him become a little bit more aware of his elimination habits.
But when we got back home after Florida and again after the Milwaukee trip, we encountered an interesting issue. It turned up several days after returning home and putting him back into his cloth diapers, so the link to the disposable diaper didn’t really occur to me the first time, though it was painfully obvious after this one. M would get a little bit rashy after some semi-regular exposure to the Pull-Ups, but it’s more of an itchy raised bump set all over his backside than a red or inflamed area focused around the genitals. This tended to disappear after several days in cloth diapers/underpants. No big deal. But the other issue was one that I had never seen discussed before. It wasn’t a diaper rash, but seemed as though his body was attempting to expel an irritation that had affected the inside of his private part. There was some discharge, which as a woman, I can only compare to what occasionally appears in our underpants when we’re neither menstruating nor ovulating. And for a day or two, his penis was noticeably swollen.
The first time this happened, he complained about some discomfort for part of one night while the diaper was on. The second time, as much as we asked if he was hurting anywhere, he just looked at us a little strangely and very matter-of-factly told us, “Nope.” The discharge disappeared after a day, and the swelling went down without us doing anything except letting him spend more “naked time” around the house than usual and giving him his regular baking soda bath. He never had any problems using the bathroom, and now that he’s back in cloth overnight (although this morning that diaper was dry, so we’ll see how much longer the night diaper lasts — woohoo!), the itching seems to have stopped and the whole area is back to normal.
I’ve come up with two reasons that this could have happened. One would be that my son is just allergic to something in the Pull-Up, which may also be in other brands of diapers or training pants, but we wouldn’t know since we’ve not used any other brands. The other reason is perhaps more likely, that a bit of the SAP crystals or gel particles, which loosen from the diaper as it is worn and used, found its way up into the opening of my son’s tender little piece. Fortunately for him, he’s equipped with an awesome immune system (as many of us also are), and his body was able to take care of the problem all by itself, as it was made to do. Of course, it was a bit disconcerting before I put the pieces together to see that happen and not know what was going on or why. Because strangely enough, I couldn’t find anything on the Internet to tell me more.
So I just wanted to let the Internet know, in case anyone else is looking it up like I was, that our bodies know what they’re doing. All that the swelling and the discharge meant was that M’s parts were doing the self-cleaning thing that they are supposed to do. If it had gotten worse, if he had been in agony, feverish or couldn’t pee, there might have been more to the story, but since he wasn’t, we took the wait-and-see approach, and it turned out to be nothing more serious than a little bit of irritation to make sure we’ll think twice before using a Pull-Up, or any disposable diaper, for any length of time again.