Have an upset and cranky bub with a red rash around the cheeks, chin, neck and chest? They may just be experiencing a common condition often referred to as “drool rash”.
Drool rash (also known as teething rash or “sialorrhea”) is the result of excessive saliva on your child’s skin and can start as early as two months (this is right around when your baby’s salivary glands begin to produce saliva). For a lot of babies, the dreaded drool rash may not become an issue until their teeth start to come in.
The good news is that the rash isn’t contagious and the issue typically no longer becomes a problem by the time your baby is eighteen months old. The bad news is that the raised bumpy patches on your baby’s skin can be sore and painful to your little one.
Is it drool rash or is it eczema?
Drool rash can often be mistaken as eczema and vice versa. Much like drool rash, eczema causes a dry, red and itchy rash to flare up on your child’s skin. It will commonly make an appearance on your baby’s cheeks or forehead during the first six months of life, and it may disappear or gradually move to the elbows and knees.
It can be difficult to differentiate drool rash from eczema, particularly as your baby’s saliva can cause further irritation to the area. Unlike drool rash, however, eczema is the result of either dry skin or their skin coming in contact with an irritant or allergen. Fortunately, the steps for the prevention and treatment of both are quite similar.
Start with drool rash prevention
Prevention is critical in keeping drool rash at bay. Start keeping soft burp cloths in the kitchen near the seat where you feed your baby, or draped across your shoulder. Every time you spot saliva on your baby’s skin, gently dab it rather than wiping it away (this way you won’t further irritate your baby’s skin).
Another way to prevent drool rash is to keep a bib on your baby. If your baby likes to tear their bib off the instant you put it on, try placing it beneath their shirt or onesie. Once the bib or shirt is wet, toss it in the wash and grab a new one.
If you suspect teething is causing your bubs to drool, try giving them a cool teething ring, cloth or toy from the refrigerator. This will not only soothe your baby’s gums, but it can help reduce the drool.
Finally, try to avoid using any irritating substances around your little one as this will only further exacerbate the condition. Opt for “baby-friendly” or fragrance-free products instead.
Treating your baby’s drool rash
The best way to treat drool rash is by ensuring that your baby’s skin is kept as dry as possible throughout the day.
You can keep the affected areas clean by gently washing the rash with warm or tepid water and patting the area dry twice a day. Apply a thin coat of ointment like petroleum jelly to help soothe the skin and to create a barrier between your baby’s skin and saliva. Try to avoid using any lotions as this can further irritate the drool rash.
If your baby regularly uses bottles and pacifiers, keep these as clean and sterilised as possible. These may very well be the cause of the rash, so try to replace or limit their use.
Some babies may try to rub or scratch the rash. In these situations, make sure that your baby’s nails are kept short and try putting soft cotton gloves over the hands at night.
When to visit a doctor for drool rash
The majority of drool rash cases can be solved at home and with no medical intervention. There may be times, however, when you should visit your child’s paediatrician:
See your child’s doctor if the rash is:
- Causing your baby a lot of pain
- Unusually itchy
- Cracked and weepy
- Affecting your baby’s ability to swallow or breathe
- Causing your baby to hold their head in a strange position
- Is accompanied by a fever
If the rash isn’t improving after about a week of home treatment, schedule an appointment to see your doctor.
Your doctor may prescribe creams like nonprescription-strength hydrocortisone cream that will help heal the rash faster and reduce the amount of discomfort your little one is feeling.
Drool rash and most other skin conditions are generally harmless and will resolve with home treatment. If at any point you’re worried about your child’s well-being or think that the condition may be serious, make sure you arrange to speak to a health professional.