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New baby teeth usually erupt from the gums between 6 to 24 months of age. And with new teeth may come a lot more drool, which can irritate sensitive baby skin and cause a rash. This rash is known as teething rash or drool rash.
Teething rash occurs because bits of food, saliva, and constant wetness irritate a baby’s skin. When combined with frequent rubbing on the skin from hugging, clothing, and playing, your baby can develop a persistent, though harmless, rash.
Your baby will likely drool a lot in the first two years of their life. Babies often start drooling more around 4 to 6 months, about the same time the first tooth is on its way. They can develop a rash at any point. The rash itself won’t determine when your baby’s teeth begin to show up.
Teething rash can appear anywhere drool gathers, including the:
If your baby uses a pacifier, you might also see a cluster of drool rash on the skin that touches the pacifier.
Teething rash usually causes flat or slightly raised, red patches with tiny bumps. The skin may also become chapped. Teething rash can come and go over weeks.
Other symptoms of teething are:
- increased chewing on toys or objects
- gum pain, which can lead to increased crying or fussing
Teething doesn’t cause fever. If your baby has a fever or is crying a lot more than usual, call your baby’s doctor. They can make sure your baby’s fever doesn’t get worse and check for any other issues.
Is there a connection between cold symptoms and teething?
At around 6 months, the passive immunity a baby gets from their mother fades. That means your baby may be more likely to pick up germs around this time. This also coincides with the time when teeth may begin to erupt.
Expert Q&A: Teething and diarrhea
A rash from drool might sometimes look like measles or hand, foot, and mouth disease. Usually, though, babies with these illnesses have fevers and appear ill.
It’s important to distinguish teething rash from another potential condition. Many rashes aren’t serious, but it’s still a good idea to contact your child’s doctor to confirm what the rash is.
One rash that needs immediate attention is petechiae accompanied by a fever. These are flat, red, pinpoint dots that don’t turn white when you push down on them. They’re burst blood vessels and require medical care right away.
See your child’s doctor if the drool rash:
- suddenly gets worse
- is cracked
- is bleeding
- is weeping fluid
- comes with a fever, especially if your baby is under 6 months old
Your child’s doctor will routinely examine your baby’s teeth and gums at well-child visits.
The best way to treat a drool rash is by keeping it clean and dry. Applying a healing balm on the skin can help, too.
Emollient creams provide a water barrier to help keep the area dry and prevent drool from irritating your baby’s skin. Examples of emollient creams that you can use on your baby’s rash are:
A natural product with some beeswax may also provide similar protection. Don’t use lotion with fragrance on the rash.
To use an emollient cream, dry the drool immediately and apply the cream multiple times a day. You can streamline the process by treating your baby’s drool rash with every diaper change, since you’re already by all of the needed supplies.
If the rash is severe, your child’s doctor can give you more suggestions.
How to manage teething pain
There’s conflicting evidence whether or not teething causes pain in infants. If it does, it’s generally only when the tooth is breaking through the gums and sometimes for a few days before or after.
In addition to reducing discomfort from teething rash, you can also help your baby manage the pain and discomfort that may come from erupting teeth by doing the following:
- Gum massage. Rub the sore area of gums with a clean finger for two minutes.
- Cold teething toys. Always use the refrigerator to cool teething toys, not the freezer. Buy teething toys here.
- Food. Babies over 12 months may enjoy eating banana pieces chilled in the refrigerator or frozen peas. Don’t use hard food, like carrots, as a chew toy. It poses a choking risk.
- Cup feeding. If your baby won’t nurse or use a bottle, try giving milk in a cup.
- Baby acetaminophen (Tylenol). Some babies sleep better if you give them a dose of a pain reliever right before bed. If you choose to do this, do it for no more than one or two nights. Make sure you know your child’s current, safe dosage of acetaminophen based on their weight. If your baby is consistently very cranky and uncomfortable, it’s likely not just teething pain, so call their doctor.
Teething gels aren’t advised. They often contain unsafe ingredients, and they only provide minimal, temporary relief.
You can’t prevent your baby from drooling, but you can prevent the drool from causing a rash by keeping your baby’s skin clean and dry. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Keep clean rags handy for wiping up drool.
- Gently dab the skin dry to not irritate the skin more.
- If your baby’s drool soaks through their shirt, put a bib on all day. Change the bib frequently.