drooling baby

Drooling can be a common side effect of teething, but many babies drool even when they aren’t getting new teeth.

The constant presence of saliva on your baby’s chin, neck, and even chest can turn into a red irritation known as a drool rash. Here’s what you need to know to treat existing drool rashes and prevent new ones from forming.

What Is a Drool Rash?

A drool rash can appear around the mouth and cheeks, in the folds of your baby’s neck, and on your baby’s chest as a result of too much saliva causing wet skin.

Drool rashes are typically flat or slightly raised patches with small red bumps. They can also have a chapped appearance. Drooling is the most likely culprit, but your baby may develop a drool rash if they use a pacifier that keeps the skin around the mouth wet, or if there is smeared food left on their face for too long.

How Can I Prevent a Drool Rash?

It can be difficult to keep your baby from drooling.

According to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, a baby’s salivary glands begin working between 2 and 3 months of age. This can lead to drooling, even though your baby isn’t teething.

To prevent a drool rash, have a soft burp cloth on hand at all times so you can gently wipe away any drool. Keeping your baby’s skin clean and dry is the most effective remedy against drool rash. Wipe your baby’s face and in the folds of his or her neck frequently, and especially after feedings. Use gentle pressure in a dabbing motion to avoid irritating your baby’s skin.

If your baby drools enough to dampen his or her shirt, try using a bib. This will prevent the wet material from rubbing against your baby’s skin, which can lead to uncomfortable chafing and a drool rash.

Change bibs as soon as they become wet with drool to keep your baby’s skin clean and dry.

How Can I Treat My Baby’s Drool Rash?

There are ways to make your baby more comfortable with drool rash.

Twice daily, gently wash the afflicted areas with warm water, then pat dry. Don’t rub, which can be irritating to already sensitive skin. Be sure your baby’s skin is completely dry.

Apply a thin coat of a healing ointment like Aquaphor or petroleum jelly, which will act as a barrier between your baby’s skin and the drool. These ointments can be soothing to your baby’s irritated skin.

Best Practices
  • Keep your baby’s skin clean and dry. Dab, don’t rub.
  • Change wet clothes immediately, and use a bib as needed.
  • Use a thin layer of barrier cream to treat existing drool rash.
  • Consult your pediatrician if the rash isn’t getting better.

At bath time, be sure to use a mild, unscented baby wash. Use a gentle, unscented lotion on your baby’s dry skin if necessary, but avoid using lotion on drool rashes. They should be kept dry and treated with a healing ointment or hydrocortisone cream only.

While your baby has a drool rash, it’s a good idea to reduce potential irritants in the immediate environment. Avoid making your baby’s rash worse by switching to a fragrance-free laundry detergent for your baby’s clothing, sheets, bibs, and burp cloths. Consider washing your clothing in the same detergent. Avoid perfumes and scented lotions as well. They can also be aggravating to your baby’s rash.

If you suspect that teething is triggering your baby’s excessive drooling, offer something cold (but not frozen) for your baby to gum. Try a teething ring or a cold washcloth. The coolness will have a mild numbing effect on your baby’s sore gums and any rash around their mouth. Be sure to gently pat dry your baby’s mouth afterward.

When to Visit the Pediatrician

In most cases, drool rash is a minor irritant that will go away with regular at-home treatment. There are a few instances when it’s best to consult your pediatrician:

  • if the rash is cracked, weepy, or causing your baby pain
  • if the rash doesn’t show any improvement after a week or so of home treatment

Your doctor will be able to prescribe creams that can help your baby’s drool rash heal faster and reduce your baby’s discomfort.