What Is a Drool Rash?

Medically Reviewed by Dany Paul Baby, MD on April 27, 2022
5 min read

Drooling is common in babies, whether they’re teething or not. Continual drooling, though, means that there is constantly saliva on your baby’s cheeks, chin, neck, and chest. This is not good for the skin and often results in a drool rash.

Your baby’s new skin is sensitive – it’s not uncommon for them to develop a rash. Drool rashes, also known as newborn rashes, appear on the face and neck area. Drool rash symptoms include small patches of raised, red bumps, and the skin may look dry and chapped.

The drool rash might not always be present. It’s normal for this condition to come and go.

The cause of drool rashes is straightforward: Saliva settles on your baby’s skin, and over time, the drool irritates their delicate chin, cheeks, mouth, neck, and more. Pacifiers and teething rings are connected with drool rashes because it promotes close contact between saliva and the skin.

Newborn rashes are typical for babies who are teething because excessive drool is a symptom of cutting new teeth. Drooling is certainly a sign of new teeth coming in, but your baby’s salivary glands will continuously develop when they’re only a few months old. From this point on, they may drool excessively whether they’re getting teeth or not.

Be mindful of the food that you give to your baby if they are teething or if they naturally salivate a lot. Some foods are irritating to the skin and can worsen the rash. After your child is done eating, make sure to clean their skin gently but thoroughly. If you use scented baby wipes, lotions, or body washes, opt for an alternative with less irritating ingredients.

Drool rash is treatable at home. The best thing you can do is limit the amount of contact between saliva and your baby’s skin. Consider the following options if you need a drool rash treatment:

  • Use bibs to absorb saliva, and remember to change the bibs regularly.
  • Wash your baby’s face gently with warm water and a soft cloth a few times a day to remove saliva or leftover food. Pat the face dry.
  • Avoid rubbing the area excessively and using harsh ingredients that could irritate the rash further.
  • Apply a healing ointment, like Aquaphor or petroleum jelly, to completely dry skin.
  • Adjust what you put on your own skin. Your body wash, perfume, or laundry detergent could irritate your child as you come into contact with them.

Above all else, keep your baby’s comfort in mind. If you use a bib or cloth that’s too rough, wash the area too frequently, etc., you will only worsen their condition.

Drooling is natural! It’s impossible to prevent saliva from coming into contact with your baby’s skin. Focus on keeping your baby’s skin clean and dry and minimizing the uncomfortable effects of a rash:

  • Keep a dry, soft burp cloth on hand to continually absorb drool.
  • Change your baby’s clothes if they become soaked with saliva.
  • Apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly to potential problem areas (face, cheeks, neck, chest, etc.). This will protect the skin from drool, seal in moisture, and soothe dry skin.
  • Take away your baby’s pacifier or teething toys to reduce the amount of time that saliva rests on your baby’s skin.
  • Review the substances that come into contact with your baby’s skin. Avoid products with dyes and fragrances.
  • Don’t wait too long to clean your baby’s face or chest area from food or drool. 

A drool rash is often mistaken for eczema, and vice versa. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, manifests as red, irritated, dry skin and looks similar to a drool rash. If the eczema is severe, your baby may also develop sores that ooze and cracked skin. It’s common for babies to develop eczema at some point in the first few months of life!

Atopic dermatitis is likely to show up on your baby’s face, scalp, knees, and elbows. Essentially, you could find eczema anywhere on their body except for the diaper area due to increased moisture levels here. Meanwhile, studies show that 75% of babies that develop eczema also have hay fever symptoms, like ear pressure, a runny nose, or itchy eyes.

It’s unknown what causes eczema, but babies with a family history of hay fever or eczema are more likely to develop this skin condition. It’s also possible that eczema is the body’s response to allergens. If your baby is allergic to something in their food or environment, they may get eczema as a result.

Drool rashes share a few similarities with eczema, but the causes and treatments are different. Learning what is a drool rash will be helpful so you can quickly diagnose your child’s skin irritation and begin treatment.

There are many kinds of rashes common to new babies. As your baby’s delicate skin adjusts to its new environment and you do your best to care for it, keep these rashes and birthmarks in mind:

  • Newborn acne
  • Erythema toxicum
  • Bruising or scrapes from birthing
  • Milia
  • Mongolian spots
  • Stork bites

After their first bath, your newborn will develop a ruddy complexion because of an increased number of red blood cells. Similarly, if they get too cold they’ll start to look a little pale or blue. As time goes on, their skin will likely dry out and start to flake, followed by the appearance of any number of rashes or birthmarks.

If your baby has developed a drool rash, try to treat it at home before consulting your child’s doctor. If symptoms worsen or include the following, reach out to their healthcare provider as soon as possible:

  • Rash that cracks and causes pain
  • Sores or blisters that ooze
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fevers

If the rash doesn’t appear to be getting better after a week or so, contact their healthcare provider. If your baby has a rash and it is accompanied by difficulty breathing, they are likely having an allergic reaction to food or their environment. Seek medical help immediately.