I'll never forget the day I discovered baby cheese on my usually-beautiful-smelling baby 😟
I was going in to blow raspberries on her chubby neck when I caught a whiff of something. I then noticed a red and mucky rash within her neck creases.
What I found is what's known as neck cheese, crease cheddar, fold-funk ... you get the picture.
Being over 4kg at birth she was adorned with some beautiful rolls. Yet it was these, combined with the typical poor neck control of a newborn, that made her the perfect candidate for baby cheese.
What exactly is it?
Any skin folds on baby that are constantly rubbing, or in direct contact with each other can get irritated.
Then you add in the 'special sauce' and you'll often have red, stinky, sour neck cheese soon after.
This 'special sauce' typically consists of baby drool, milk spills, spit-up and/or sweat trapped in the skin folds.
Left unchecked, this special sauce can lead to a skin irritation or infection due to the warm, wet and well fed environment.
This can show as a raw, sore looking skin and at worst may result in bleeding or a nasty yeast skin infection. Just google baby neck folds rash.
Why does it happen?
Primarily its because babies don't have necks 😂 Well, I mean they have necks but you don't get to see much of them. Somehow their heads just magically sit on their shoulders!
Babies under 4-6 months just aren't strong enough to stretch their necks out and give them much needed fresh air!
The climate you live in can also quicken baby cheese production; it's always worse in warm, humid environments.
What to do?
Hygiene is number 1. Keeping the inside of skin folds both clean and dry helps a lot.
You don't need to wash your baby anymore than you usually do, just pay closer attention to those hidey-hole skin folds.
If neck creases are already red and very irritated, be gentle when opening them as they may be beginning to split. Any changes to the skin's integrity and barrier is an invitation to an infection party - that nobody wants to go to 🙅♀️
Using a soft cloth with warm water or a squirty bottle may help dislodge any sticky neck cheese. Be gentle on bub's delicate skin, but also do a good job.
Once it's clean, PAT the insides dry a few times with a soft towel. Do not rub.
You may need to spot clean and pat dry a few times over the day - especially after feeds. Catch those sneaky milk drips before they find their new home.
Change any milk stained clothing and/or use bibs or a hand towel at feed times.
As a mum with oversupply, I made a right mess at feed times. Hand towels were on serious rotation in my house!
How to prevent or treat it?
As mentioned, prevention is key but if you just can't seem to get on top of it with keeping it clean and dry alone, consider adding in a drying agent or a natural oil.
Powders are wonderful because they literally attract moisture to them. A simple home remedy is Arrowroot flour (look for the preservative-free variety). I prefer this over the traditional talc based baby powders.
Some mums have used a smear of coconut oil in the folds. The oil would act as a repellant. I have heard mixed results with this.
I often recommend Baby Dust - Organic Herbal Baby Powder to mums. Mainly because it has a dual action of drying out any moisture, whilst the herbs offer healing and protective properties.
The Kaolin White Clay and Arrowroot powder have some amazing natural absorbent and insoluble properties. Whilst the pure Chamomile, Marshmallow and Lavender provide their skin soothing, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties with each shake. They also naturally scent the powder.
What I also love is that it contains no talc, cornstarch, essential oils, gluten, chemicals or preservatives.
It can be used daily to prevent or help heal the dreaded baby cheese, or for any nappy rash or chafing for that matter.
Neck rashes and baby cheese are really common. It's just one of those things that some mums have to deal with and it eventually passes with time.
Before you know it, your baby's neck appears to the outside world! They develop greater neck control and strength at the same time.
The fold-funk then fades as a distance memory and the coast is clear for copious neck raspberries again!