You know how women in the online forums talk about how they feel yeast is “stuck” in their diapers? Well, it’s possible that it kind of is. There’s this thing that organisms like yeast do called forming biofilm. Understanding this has helped infection specialists understand why sometimes, even after medicinal treatment, it seems like various bacteria strains or yeast just keep coming back. You’ve probably experienced this in your own body. You’ll treat a staph infection or a bladder infection exactly like you’re supposed to and then a month later, it just comes back. Sometimes, it’s because the infection was resistant to the medicine, but from what I’ve come to understand, it gets even more biologically sinister than that.
To understand that concept, and what may have happened to your diapers, you have to understand the idea of biofilm. Biofilm is what it’s called when organisms lock together on a surface or in tissue (the lining of your bladder, your nose, the surface of your teeth, your diapers) and join forces to create a nearly impenetrable “film.” I imagine a bunch of little guys all holding hands in a interlocked fashion. Alcohol can’t penetrate it. In fact, alcohol helps make them. (Something to think about when choosing your baby’s soap or squeezing on the hand sanitizer.) Antibiotics are basically useless against bacteria exhibiting biofilm formation and the same goes for anti-fungal products’s efficacy against fungal biofilm. Its motto is “united we stand, divided we fall!”
Yeast can make biofilms. For a long time, it seemed like nobody really cared too much about yeast. Doctors would look at you like you were a freak hippie if you’d say that you were going to take a probiotic along with your antibiotic. I vividly recall having to sneak a bottle into a labor and delivery room for a friend who had an IV antibiotic because the doctor thought she was a nutcase. But in recent years, it’s taken more seriously, “Their emergence as important nosocomial pathogens is related to speciﬁc risk factors associated with modern medical procedures, notably the use of immunosuppressive and cytotoxic drugs, powerful antibiotics that suppress the normal bacterial ﬂora, and implanted devices of various kinds. Recent data from the US National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance System rank these organisms as the fourth most common cause of bloodstream infection, behind coagulase-negative staphylococci, Staphylococcus aureus and enterococci” (Douglas).
How Hot is Hot Enough?
Hot water will kill all of the Candida (yeast) on your diapers. According to the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, MRSA is eliminated at 104 degrees. (As a side note: that’s something to think about before you take a fever reducer when you have a staph infection.) Yeast is a bit tougher though, it doesn’t die until it reaches 122 degrees. The problem is, when you move into a house, the hot water is automatically set to 120 degrees. So, you’ll have to turn your hot water heater up if you haven’t already. The next temperature up is usually 130 degrees. I showed you how to do that without having to ask for help in a previous blog.
But what if you can’t turn your hot water heater up? What if you live in an apartment? What if you do your laundry at someone else’s house? What then, are you do do about the biofilm on your diapers that’s just sitting there, waiting for some cracked skin to hop into and mass reproduce?
Essential Oil for Candida Biofilm Elimination
Virgin Coconut Oil is great at killing yeast on its own. It’s also one of the few things that is generally accepted by the diapering community as safe to use with cloth diapers. That will be our carrier oil. There’s plenty of essential oils that help eradicate candida and bacterial biofilm, but in studies, Eucalyptus seems to come out on top (Agarwal). So, that’s what we’ll use. Warm a (16 ounce) tub of Virgin Coconut oil by submerging it with the lid on in hot water for a few minutes. Open the jar up, and then add about 20 drops of Eucalyptus to the jar. (That will equal about 1% EO to the Virgin Coconut Oil base.) I figured that out using my previous handy dandy Essential Oil Dilution blog post. This will be your magic potion that will break down any residual yeast (or staph or any microbes for that matter) even if they have united together in a biofilm formation. You won’t need much. Just take a little bit and gently scrub the diapers and liners with a laundry brush or another rag with this concoction. Let it sit for a couple of hours. Then, throw them into the laundry and wash them up using hot water twice.
Whatever is leftover in the jar can be used as a chest, back, or foot rub during the sick season on your kiddos as well (providing they are older than about four months.
Agarwal, Vishnu, Piryank Lal, and Vikas Pruthi. “Prevention of Candida Albicans Biofilm by Plant Oils.” Springer Science and Business Media, 2 May 2007 (Four oils eucalyptus, peppermint, ginger grass and clove showed 80.87%, 74.16%, 40.46% and 28.57% candida biofilm reduction respectively.)
Douglas, L. Julia. “Candida Bioﬁlms and Their Role in Infection.” TRENDS in Microbiolog. Division of Infection and Immunity, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgo, Jan. 2003.
Pup, DPM, FACFAS, Guy, and Channa Williams, DPM. “What You Should Know About Biofilms And Chronic Wounds.” Podiatry Today, July 2008.