What to Do About Your Baby's Drool Rash

baby drool, drool rash, how to get rid of baby drool,
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Is there anything cuter in the world than a baby? Their faces are so full of innocence, sweetness, smooth skin, and...drool?!

That's right. Babies—cute as they are—are also non-stop drool makers. And some babies drool a lot more than others, leading to the dreaded drool rash. But what exactly is drool rash and can you help your baby be more comfortable while experiencing it?

What Causes Drool Rash?

Drool rash can happen when a baby has consistent episodes of drooling that irritate the skin around a baby's mouth, usually underneath the lips and around the chin and sometimes extending down the neck and chest as well. You may notice reddened skin, small red bumps, or just irritation in the area. 

In some cases, a drool rash can be caused by teething. Most of the time, however, drool rash does not have a specific cause like teething. The majority of the time, a drool rash is simply the result of a baby who drools a lot normally. There's nothing necessarily wrong with the baby or even the amount of drool.

Sometimes, babies who use a pacifier often can develop a drool rash because the skin around the pacifier is constantly wet. Or, if your baby has a lot of residual breast milk or formula left around their mouths for long periods of time, it can irritate the skin and lead to a drool rash. And as for the rest of the time? Babies drool and drool can lead to drool rash—the cause is as simple as that. 

Why Babies Drool

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains that increased drool during teething might help protect and soothe a baby's tender gums. According to the source, drooling in babies starts around 3-6 months of age, when babies are "oral-centric". Babies learn about the world by eating and putting everything in their mouths. Doctors also know that babies can help boost their immune systems by putting things in their mouths, so all of that curiosity about the world isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

The AAP also notes that drooling serves some important functions for babies, including: 

  • helping to moisten food once he or she is ready to eat solids
  • keeping the baby's mouth moist
  • helping the baby to swallow 
  • helping to wash away food residue
  • protecting a baby's teeth

A baby's saliva also communicates information about the baby's health. When a baby is breastfed, the saliva in the baby's mouth interacts with the mother's mammary glands. The bacteria and other microbes in the baby's drool communicate with the mother's body to tell her what kind of milk to make. If the baby is sick, for instance, a mother's milk can change in response and produce more of the antibodies that the baby might need to overcome the sickness. 

How to Prevent Drool Rash

It can be very discouraging and difficult for parents and caregivers to deal with drool rash because there doesn't seem to be an end to the amount of drool that a baby produces. 

In instances where the drool rash is caused by something external, like teething, there isn't much you can do to prevent a rash. But if you know that your baby is teething, however, you can be prepared for the moments when the rash occurs.

To prevent or minimize drool rash, create a barrier between your baby's skin and the saliva. Try any of these potential solutions.

  • Place a waterproof bib on your baby during drooling episodes. A waterproof bib can help saliva from getting to your baby's chest and irritating the skin. 
  • Change your baby's shirt if he soaks through it with drool. Keeping a wet shirt on your baby can irritate the skin, so changing the shirt or outfit when it's dampened can help keep the irritation at bay. 
  • Clean your baby's face after feedings. Don't rub your baby's face area vigorously, of course, but blot the baby's face with a cloth that is just wet with water, not any soap. 
  • Let your little one be naked. The best thing for irritated skin? Fresh air. If you can, give your little one short bouts of some time in the buff to let the skin dry out naturally. 
  • Wipe the drool. Use a soft, non-irritating burp cloth or blanket to try to sop up any excess drool from your baby throughout the day if you are with your baby. Or, send a burp cloth with your little one and speak to their caregiver or daycare provider about trying to keep the rash area dry. 

    How to Treat Drool Rash

    Treating a drool rash involves trying to support the skin to heal on its own while also keeping more drool from further irritating the skin. This involves measures such as trying to keep the skin dry, wiping drool away through the day, and keeping a barrier on the skin to try to let it heal. 

    The best way to treat a drool rash is to try to keep the skin dry and avoid further irritation.

    • Check your baby's pacifiers and bottles to make sure they are clean and not the cause of any irritation. It might be a good idea to make sure the pacifiers are cleaned and sanitized and if you can, limit the use of long periods of the pacifier being in your baby's mouth if you notice it tends to make the rash worse. (On the other hand, sometimes pacifiers might help reduce the amount of drool that actually comes out of your baby's mouth, so be sure to do what works best for your baby.)
    • Put a barrier on your baby's skin. If your doctor clears and there are no additional skin sensitivities, you can apply an emollient, such as petroleum jelly or a thick diaper rash cream to the infected areas. The goal is to let the skin heal and protect it from further irritation. 
    • Consider any environmental irritants. Could your baby's blankets or sheets or environment be causing the irritation? Make sure the laundry detergents you are using for your baby's clothes and blankets are gentle and not irritating your baby's skin. 

      When to Worry About Drooling

      Although drooling is typically a normal occurrence in babies and nothing to worry about, there are a few instances of drooling that could be a cause for concern.

      If your child suddenly starts drooling and has other symptoms, such as lethargy, having trouble swallowing, trouble breathing, or jerking around, call 911 immediately. A child who is drooling a lot suddenly and is opening his mouth wide and having trouble breathing, may be choking on a foreign object. 

      In some instances, 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, and is refusing to eat or eating less, and 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 child has an infection or it's just normal teething, because a fever can also occur with teething, but when in doubt, pay a visit to your doctor, just in case. 

      If your baby's drool rash doesn't improve and gets worse, such as bleeding or to the point where your baby can't cope with it, speak to your doctor about some other possible solutions, such as ointment that might help your baby's skin heal. 

      A Word From Verywell 

      A drool rash is something that can happen to babies when they have a lot of drool that irritates their skin. In some cases, the drool rash can result from teething or even irritants like a pacifier or food on your baby's face.

      The best way to prevent drool rash is by keeping the baby's skin dry, changing wet shirts, and making sure any residue from food, formula, or breast milk is cleaned off the face. To treat a drool rash, apply a gentle barrier cream, such as diaper rash ointment or petroleum jelly to the affected areas. If your baby's drool rash gets worse or is accompanied by any other symptoms, such as behavior changes or fever, you should have your child evaluated by a doctor. 

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