Your baby’s skin is quite sensitive and fragile. This is because it is thin, immature and still developing. Therefore, it’s not surprising that their skin reacts to quite a number of things in order to effectively protect the other organs of the body and to also serve as a barrier against many pathogens.
When your baby begins to handle things, the mouth is not going to be spared. Almost everything your baby handles goes to the mouth. The more reason why your baby’s mouth may be the first to react to foreign objects.
Rash around the baby’s mouth is also known as drool rash. In this article, you’d find out the reasons for baby drool, common causes of a drool rash, how to prevent or treat a drool rash, and when to call your doctor.
Table of contents
Why Do Babies Drool?
Your baby goes through different stages of development as he or she grows. At about three to six months of age, your baby gets to a stage known as the oral-centric stage. At this stage, everything your baby handles goes to the mouth, including his or her hands. This is why you should be careful and keep a close watch around your baby. You should also ensure that toys and other things around your baby are kept as clean as possible.
Drooling serves a number of functions. It helps to soften and moisten food in the mouth before swallowing. Saliva is important for digestion. It contains some enzymes that help in the digestion of carbohydrates. Drooling helps to perform this function by breaking down starch. It also helps your baby swallow and aids the digestion of food. Saliva is also important to wash away any food residue left in your baby’s mouth, and can also help to keep your baby’s oral cavity clean.
What’s A Drool Rash?
Drooling often occurs more when your baby is teething. But most times, even without teething, your baby can still drool. Drooling is the presence of saliva on your baby’s cheek, chin, and sometimes neck. When this is in excess, your baby’s skin becomes wet and a rash can ensue.
Saliva does not contain only water. It is very important for digesting food; hence, it contains a lot of enzymes and other substances. Continuous irritation of these substances on the skin can lead to a rash. A rash around your baby’s mouth can present as flat or raised patches with small reddish bumps.
However, drooling may not be the only one to blame if your baby has a rash around the mouth. If your baby uses a pacifier that causes the skin around the mouth to be wet, a rash can also develop.
Other Causes of Rash Around Your Baby’s mouth
Some other causes of a rash around your baby’s mouth are:
- Allergies: Rash on the skin around your baby’s mouth may be as a result of a reaction to certain allergens. The most common baby rash caused by an allergen is eczema.
- Infections: Following exposure to certain infections, a fungal or viral rash may develop.
- Irritants: Babies are quite sensitive and can be irritated by saliva, drool, and other items used to care for the baby like soaps, detergents, sunscreens and wipes.
Can A Drool Rash Be Prevented?
It is quite difficult to prevent a baby from drooling, hence, you may not be able to totally prevent a drool rash. This is because babies are able to produce large volumes of drool. But if the rash is caused by something else like teething, the rash won’t last for a long time.
As your baby grows, the amount of drool produced will be reduced, so you don’t have to worry. However, you can minimize or prevent a drool rash by creating a barrier between your baby’s skin and the saliva. This you can do by:
- Clean your baby after feeding. You can use a cloth dampened with water instead of wipes soaps because your baby may react to them.
- Use a waterproof bib for your baby. The bib will help keep the drool from getting to your baby’s skin, hence, irritating the skin.
- Once your baby’s clothes becomes wet with drool, change it immediately. Clothes that are wet from drool can also irritate the skin.
- You can also wipe off the drool frequently with a soft cloth.
- If your baby already has a rash, you can expose him or her to fresh air. Fresh air dries your baby’s skin naturally, hastening the healing process.
- You may need to change your baby’s pacifier if they are the ones causing the irritation.
- Irritants from the environment should be watched out for and removed since they can also cause your baby to have a rash.
Treating A Drool Rash: Key Steps To Follow
Treating a drool rash involves two processes. First, supporting the healing process of the rash that is already present, and second, preventing further rash from developing.
To manage a drool rash, wash the affected areas at least twice a day with warm water. Allow the area to air dry. Avoid rubbing with a cloth or towel to prevent further irritation. While bathing, use mild baby soap. This is to prevent the soap from irritating your baby’s skin also.
Gently apply a healing ointment or petroleum jelly on the skin. Avoid using lotion on a drool rash. The ointment will act as a barrier between your baby’s skin and the drool. The ointment will also serve to soothe and heal the rash.
When To Call A Doctor
Even though drooling is a normal event in babies, some may be a cause for medical attention. A drool rash will go away with regular home treatment, but sometimes it does not.
Call your doctor if your child starts drooling and has other symptoms such as:
- Excessive pain
- Fever with swollen glands
- Jerky movements
- Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
- Becoming excessively fussy or irritable
- Lack of sleep or reduced appetite
- If there’s no improvement after home treatment
In these cases, your doctor will be able to provide further guidance and give prescriptions on what you can give your baby, depending on the cause. You can also see our other article on flu rash
Ashifa Trivedi & Vani Suri (2017). Rashes in children. The Official Journal Of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Accessed on 17th December, 2021 from https://pharmaceutical-journal.com/article/ld/rashes-in-children
Skin care for your baby. Paediatrics Child Health. 2007 Mar; 12(3): 245–247. Accessed on 17th December, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528704/#!po=93.1818