Drooling is common in young children, especially while their teeth are coming in. It is usually nothing to worry about. However, excessive saliva can sometimes irritate a baby's skin and cause drool rash.
Drool rash can be uncomfortable for a baby, but parents and caregivers can help them get relief with some simple home remedies.
In this article, we look at what drool rash is, as well as how to treat and prevent it. We also cover when to see a doctor.
Drooling, also known as sialorrhea, is common in healthy infants. It often stops when they are around 15 to 18 months old.
Excessive saliva around the baby's mouth, cheeks, chin, and beyond can irritate the skin and cause drool rash.
Drool rash is not contagious and is not linked to any underlying medical conditions. However, it can result in red, itchy, bumpy patches on the skin, which babies may find painful and uncomfortable. These patches may be moist or dry.
Drooling is a natural process and may also be a side effect of teething, which is when a baby's teeth start to break through their gums. Drooling may begin long before the teeth come in and persist long after, however.
Besides teething, babies may also naturally drool due to their:
- limited ability to swallow
- lack of front teeth
- tendency to keep their mouth open
Parents and caregivers can take simple measures to reduce the impact of drool rash. The best way to treat drool rash is to keep the baby's skin dry throughout the day and prevent new rashes from developing.
Simple measures that can help manage drool rash include:
- Always keeping clean cloths or baby wipes handy and wiping the child's face dry as soon as any drool appears. If baby wipes seem to worsen the irritation, try plain water or a soft dry cloth.
- If teething seems to be causing the baby to drool, try giving them a teething toy or something cold to chew on, such as a teething ring from the refrigerator.
- Applying an emollient, barrier cream, or ointment to the affected area to help protect and heal the baby's skin. However, it is best to consult a doctor before using any new products, especially near the baby's mouth.
- Avoiding using irritating substances on or around the baby, such as harsh laundry detergents, soaps, and scented lotions. Try replacing these products with mild, fragrance-free alternatives.
- Always cleaning and sterilizing the baby's bottles and pacifiers to ensure that these are not the cause of the rash. Parents and caregivers should replace or limit the use of any objects that appear to cause or worsen the rash.
- Gently washing the rash with tepid water and patting it dry afterward.
A variety of teething toys are available to purchase online.
Drool rash can be difficult to prevent, particularly as many infants and toddlers drool naturally. However, there are some things a person can do to help prevent or minimize drool rash, including:
- Gently wiping the baby's face with a cloth to remove any drool and prevent rashes from developing. It is best to use soft, non-irritating cloths.
- Cleaning the baby's face after feedings by gently patting their skin with a damp cloth. Use water, not soap, to wet the cloth and avoid vigorous or harsh rubbing, as it may irritate the baby's skin.
- Putting a waterproof or absorbent bib on the baby to prevent saliva from getting on their chin, chest, and clothing.
- Changing the baby's clothing whenever it becomes wet from the saliva.
Drooling is natural in babies and young children. While drool rash may be uncomfortable, it is not usually a cause for concern. However, a person should speak to a doctor if the baby:
- is unusually irritable or fussy
- has a fever
- has difficulty breathing or swallowing
- refuses to eat or is eating less
- holds their head in a strange position
It is also best to seek medical advice if the rash is severe, getting worse, or seems unusually itchy or painful.
It is normal for infants to drool, often starting when they are around 3–6 months old. However, salvia that remains in contact with the skin can cause irritation and lead to a rash.
Babies may find drool rash upsetting and uncomfortable, but it is usually harmless. Caregivers can treat and help prevent drool rash with simple home measures, such as regularly wiping up any drool and keeping the baby's skin dry.
It is best to see a doctor if the rash looks severe or occurs alongside other symptoms.