What to Do About Your Baby's Drool Rash

baby drool, drool rash, how to get rid of baby drool,

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Babies explore everything around them with all five senses. Getting to know their world in every way possible is how infants learn, and it's an important step in their development.

For a baby, exploration often involves using their mouth, and that can mean a lot of drool. And where there is drool, there is often drool rash.

What exactly is drool rash, what causes it, and how can you help your baby be more comfortable while experiencing it?

Why Do Babies Drool?

Drooling starts around 3 to 6 months of age, when babies become "oral-centric." The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that drooling serves some important functions, including: 

  • Moistening solid food in the mouth
  • Providing the first step in digestion by breaking down starches
  • Helping the baby swallow 
  • Aiding digestion
  • Washing away food residue
  • Protecting the baby's teeth from cavities

A baby's saliva also communicates information about their health. When a breastfed baby is nursing, bacteria and other microbes in the baby's saliva interact with the parent's mammary glands, influencing the composition of the breast milk.

If the baby is sick, for instance, a parent's milk can change in response, containing more of the antibodies that the baby needs to overcome the illness. 

Causes

Drool rash can happen when a baby produces excess saliva that irritates the skin around the mouth. The most commonly affected areas are the lips, chin, and cheeks, although the neck and chest may be affected if saliva stays in contact with those areas for a prolonged time.

You may notice red, inflamed skin or small red bumps where drool rash is present.

In some cases, a drool rash can be caused by teething. The AAP explains that increased saliva during teething might help protect and soothe a baby's tender gums.

Most of the time, however, drool rash does not have a specific cause and is simply the result of a baby who produces a lot of saliva. There's nothing necessarily wrong with the baby or even the amount of drool.

Babies who use a pacifier can develop a drool rash because the skin around the pacifier is constantly wet. Residual breast milk or formula left around a baby's mouth for long periods of time can also irritate the skin and lead to a rash.

Prevention

It can be difficult for parents and caregivers to deal with drool rash, due to the simple fact that babies seem capable of producing an endless amount of drool. 

In instances where the rash is caused by something temporary, like teething, the good news is that this stage won't last forever. As your baby's teeth come in and they learn other ways to explore the world, the amount of drool will decrease.

If you know that your baby is teething, you can be prepared for increased drooling and ward off a rash before it becomes bothersome to your child.

Creating a barrier between your baby's skin and the saliva will help prevent or minimize drool rash. Here are some solutions to try.

  • Place a waterproof bib on your baby during drooling episodes. A bib can help keep saliva from getting to your baby's chest and irritating the skin. 
  • Change your baby's shirt if it becomes damp with drool. Leaving a wet shirt on your baby can irritate their skin; changing the shirt or outfit when it's damp can help keep the irritation at bay. 
  • Clean your baby's face after feedings. Instead of rubbing, blot the baby's face with a cloth dampened with water. Avoid soap or cleansing wipes, as these could cause more irritation. 
  • Let your little one be naked. The best thing for inflamed skin? Fresh air. Allowing your baby to go without a shirt will let the skin dry out naturally. 
  • Wipe the drool. Use a soft cloth to frequently blot any excess drool from your baby's skin when you are with them. When you're away, send a burp cloth with your infant and speak to their caregiver or daycare provider about trying to keep the rash area dry. 

Treatment

Treatment for a drool rash involves supporting the skin's healing process while preventing drool from causing further irritation. Along with the preventive measures above, follow these tips for faster healing:

  • Check your baby's pacifiers and bottles to make sure they are not causing irritation. Pacifiers should be sanitized daily to prevent bacterial growth, and bottles should be washed after each feeding.
  • Limit pacifier use if you notice it tends to make the rash worse by keeping the skin around your child's mouth wet. On the other hand, a pacifier may help reduce the amount of drool that actually comes out of your baby's mouth, so experiment to see what works best for your baby.
  • Put a barrier on your baby's skin. With your doctor's approval, and if the baby has no skin sensitivities, you can apply an emollient such as petroleum jelly to the inflamed areas, making sure the skin is clean and dry first. This will help protect the skin from further irritation. 
  • Consider environmental irritants. Could your baby's blankets, bedding, or environment be causing the rash? Make sure the laundry detergents you are using for your baby's clothes and bedding are gentle and not irritating to your baby's skin. 

When to See a Doctor

Although drooling is typically a normal occurrence in babies, there are a few situations that could be a cause for concern.

If your child suddenly starts drooling and shows other symptoms such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Jerky movements

Call 911 immediately. A child who is drooling suddenly, opening their mouth wide, and having trouble breathing may be choking on a foreign object.

Increased drooling in a baby can also be a sign of an infection. If your baby seems unusually fussy or irritable, isn't sleeping well, has a poor appetite, or has a fever with swollen glands, you should take your child to the pediatrician to be checked.

It can be difficult to tell if your drooling infant has an infection or is simply teething, because a fever can also occur with teething. Teething-related fevers are normally under 101 degrees F, however. When in doubt, pay a visit to your doctor just in case. 

If your baby's drool rash doesn't improve or worsens to the point of bleeding or being painful, speak to your doctor about other possible solutions.

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5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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