This being said, the one area that human milk should not be used is on the irritated genitals of growing babies and children. The reason for this is due to the hearty sugar makeup of human milk - a component of our milk that is vital to healthy immune, organ and brain development. These sugars are complex and many in form, and they are made up of a wide variety (everything from those designed to help baby build the fatty tissues that s/he needs, to developing the myelin sheath around new neurons, to glyconutrients that allow cells in the body to communicate effectively and ensure robust immune function). These sugars play an essential role in human health and development - some in ways we are only beginning to understand in the 21st century.
Why, then, are substances with heavy sugar content not a good idea for genitals? The answer is YEAST. Yeast overgrowth is one of thee most common reasons for rashes and irritation in babies and children - especially during the diaper wearing days. Yeast feeds on sugars - in fact, it thrives on sugars - and does not differentiate between 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' sugars, it grows on all. So when human milk is placed on the genitals (whether intact or circumcised), it is nourishing yeast spores in the process. Additional redness, and a prolonged rash or irritation to the genitals, is common when a sugar-rich substance is used - leading all too often to unnecessary visits to the physician's office in follow-up. Even in cases where redness or rash is not due to yeast (rubbing, wetness, chemicals, detergent, soap/bubbles, forced retraction), it can quickly escalate to a multi-factoral rash with yeast in the mix, especially if human milk is used in treatment. In situations where antibiotics are medically justified for a rash (strep, staph and true/verified bacterial infections), yeast overgrowth is already a heightened possibility because of the antibiotics. Rather than add to the problem at hand, feed an abundance of human milk orally (probiotics are also a strong component of this milk, balancing out antibiotic use when they are necessary), and allow healing to take place.
Redness on the bum, foreskin, and labia are common (again, especially during the diaper days), and redness is not a thing to be feared. Everything from rubbing to wetness to yeast spores cause redness, but when these rashes appear, the best ointment to reach for is Calmoseptine -- not human milk. Calmoseptine is an ointment originally designed for use on the genitals of developing babies and children, and while it will soothe, calm and help the body heal quickly, it does not interfere with normal pH or healthy microflora of the genitals (something that is vital to skin health). Calmoseptine is available virtually world-wide upon request at your local pharmacy. If it is not in stock, the ointment can be requested and usually received overnight. The effectiveness of Calmoseptine is the reason we currently include it (freely given away) as a part of all Peaceful Parenting and Saving Our Sons baby and maternity expos, and include samples with all Intact Info Packs shipped to expecting parents.
Many poorly informed clinicians today have also advised parents to apply a topical antibiotic like Neosporin to the genitals in cases of redness. However, this is also a counterproductive measure. Most redness is not due to bacterial causes (again, most is due to rubbing, wetness, chemical reactions - detergent/soap/bubbles/chlorine/disposable diapers - yeast overgrowth, or forced retraction). Because of this, treating with a topical antibiotic is not a logical or beneficial measure. Even in cases where there is a true bacterial cause (staph and strep being two of the most common on the genitals) that justifies antibiotics, their use needs to be oral (not topical) to effectively treat the problem at hand. Applying topical antibiotics does nothing more than disrupt healthy microflora and pH - further exacerbating the problem, and rarely eradicating the origin of the rash. Skip the Neosporin and use Calmoseptine for redness and irritation.
What if a yeast rash is already present?
If your baby or child has bright red spots on his bum/genitals, it is likely that yeast is the culprit. In this case, and to be certain it is yeast versus mere irritation, we would suggest first using Calmoseptine alone for 8-24 hours. Apply the cream liberally over the outside of the genitals/bum, being certain not to retract an intact child in any fashion (i.e. do not push back the foreskin or clitoral hood in any way). Even if your son has a red/inflamed foreskin, do not attempt to push cream or any substance into his foreskin. Calmoseptine will work its own way in as needed. Apply to the outside of the penis and scrotum only, as you would cover a finger.
If redness and irritation is gone within 24 hours post Calmoseptine use, you will know that this was a case of irritation that led to inflammation and redness. If you still see bright red spots, you can assume that it is yeast. In this case, apply a coat of Lotrimin (that can be purchased in the fungal section of any major store or pharmacy, or generic store brand with the same active ingredient - clotrimazole) to clean, dry skin. Again, be sure to cover all red areas without manipulating, messing with, or pushing back the prepuce (foreskin/clitoral hood) in any manner. After this coat of Lotrimin, apply a layer of Calmoseptine on top of it. Redness should be reduced within 8-12 hours and gone within 24-72 hours. Reapply with each diaper change.
If you typically use cloth diapers, you may wish to use disposables during this 'treatment' phase. Another option is to use Shout and double rinse to remove these ointments from your diapers. Should you find that redness and irritation is common with your baby, it could be due to the detergent you use (switch to a natural brand such as BioKleen) and always double rinse diapers post-washing. Or, it could be that your baby is sensitive to any wetness on his/her bum (very common). In this case, making a switch to pocket diapers that wick away moisture is the best move to continue cloth diapering. If you are a parent preemptively reading and planning to cloth diaper, you may wish to take this into consideration when making cloth purchases. Pocket diapers are often much better for babies' sensitive and developing genitals as they do not leave baby's skin in contact with wetness.
No matter your diaper choices, treating redness/irritation with Calmoseptine, and yeast with Lotrimin/Calmoseptine is a significantly less invasive (and more effective) measure than unnecessary trips to the doctor's office, or adding to the problems at hand with 'treatments' that do not work and often lead to further complications of rash and redness. Only in situations where a baby's rash responds to neither Calmoseptine or Lotrimin over the course of 48-72 hours will you know that a physician's visit is justified to rule out bacterial culprits.
Related reading at the Intact Care Resource Page
• Saving Our Sons Community Group
• Intact: Healthy, Happy, Whole Group
• Saving Our Sons Community Group
• Intact: Healthy, Happy, Whole Group