Teething Rash 101: How to Deal With One The Easiest Way

As though teething wasn't tough enough on its own.

teething rash

Hello, I am a new mom, and I would like to introduce you to the bane of my existence: teething rash.

My daughter’s first teething rash appeared on her chubby little cheeks when she was around 4 months old.  It continues to return every few months when she cuts a couple more teeth, and thus continues to drive me bananas.

As if you and your poor baby aren’t dealing with enough: swollen gums, fussiness, sleeplessness, and refusing to eat are hard enough to watch.  Why not throw a bunch of unsightly, irritated skin into the mix?

If your baby has awoken with flushed and bumpy cheeks or you notice the telltale red areas on his neck or chest when changing his outfit, you may have a teething rash on your hands.  Read on to learn a little more about what causes this and how you can fix it.

What Is Teething Rash?

Teething rash, also known as dribble rash or drool rash, is the result of the excessive drool your baby is producing while they’re teething.  It can appear in two different ways:

  1. Your baby’s cheeks, chin, and the folds of his neck may break out as a result of the irritating digestive enzyme found in drool.  An article on healthline.com describes the rashes as “flat or slightly raised patches with small red bumps.  They can also have a chapped appearance.”  Excessive, constant moisture is irritating to babies’ sensitive skin – it may even get worse in some areas if your baby uses a pacifier, or has food left over on her face after a meal.  Sleeping on drool-soaked sheets can also aggravate this condition.
  2. Wet clothes combined with friction can cause your baby’s neck and chest area to break out in a rash with a somewhat different appearance.  Pediatrician Dr. Roy Benaroch explains, “the neck rash can look like intertrigo or a yeast infection, and the chest rash can look somewhat like eczema.”

Teething rash can be accelerated through the excessive rubbing and chewing your baby is doing to try and soothe themselves.  The bacteria from those little hands can easily enter the tiny cracks in the skin caused from the friction combined with consistent moisture.

Max is already a compulsive cheek and eye-rubber; it only gets worse when she’s getting more teeth in.  My husband and I would actually joke about inventing a “baby straight jacket” to keep her hands away from her mouth.

Both types of this rash may smell pretty terrible. If the rash looks weepy, infected, or appears to be causing your baby pain, you should call your pediatrician right away.

It is important not to confuse teething rash with eczema or other skin rashes (pictures of the most common types of rashes can be found here). It isn’t always easy to tell what type of rash it could be, but if it arrived around the same time your baby started teething, chances are that’s your culprit.

Once you’ve identified that this is definitely teething rash, there are a few things you can try at home before making a trip to the doctor.

How You Can Help:

First and foremost, you should try to prevent the rash from occurring.  Healthline suggests keeping 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.”  Always try to pat or dab the drool away with gentle pressure, and avoid rubbing.

Dr. Tanya Altmann, a best selling author and pediatrician, advises in this article: “always use a mild unscented baby wash [during bath time], followed by unscented moisturizer on dry areas.” Fragrances can be further irritating to your baby’s skin, so you should avoid perfume and try switching your laundry detergent to a fragrance and dye free product (switching Max’s detergent from Dreft to All Free & Clear really helped).

Keep a close eye on your baby – if you see that her cheeks or any other area are soaked, wipe the saliva off with a gentle soap and warm water.  You want to keep the skin as clean as possible – this article warns: “In some cases drool rash will become infected, leading to infant impetigo which is a contagious bacterial infection indicated by honey or yellow colored crusting on the rash’s surface and possible blistering.”

Keep Your Baby Comfortable:

If your child is teething, drool rash is likely just one of the several annoying things your baby is dealing with right now.  Try your best to keep her as comfortable as possible:

  • Keep a bunch of extra outfits on hand and change damp clothes often (a good rule of thumb is to change clothing with every diaper change).
  • Give your baby something cold (not frozen) to chew on, such as a damp washcloth or teething ring that has been in the fridge.  This will soothe not only the gums but the rash on their cheeks as well.
  • During the day, keep a bib on your cutie to catch excess drool and protect the chest area.  Change it once it becomes soaked.
  • Place a towel or cloth diaper under the sheet where your baby’s face will be when he sleeps.

Create a Moisture Barrier:

Along with keeping your baby’s skin clean and dry, you need to create a protective barrier so the irritated areas can heal.  There are many lubricants, creams, and home remedies that you can try:

  • Dr. Altmann suggests: “apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly or Aquaphor [to] protect the skin as well as to treat irritation.”  You may need to do this several times a day.
  • If you’re like me and have boatloads of unused Lansinoh laying around, you now have a use for it – besides being an awesome moisturizer that soothes irritated, sensitive skin, it is safe for babies to ingest. Apply to irritated areas as often as necessary.
  • Coconut oil is another good option:  it is anti-fungal and anti-microbial, so it will take care of any bacteria that is trying to make it in.  This is a good natural way to create a protective barrier and you won’t have to worry if your cutie swallows a little. Added bonus: your baby will smell delicious!
  • Aloe Vera is recommended since it has been found to have healing properties.  Mix a little Aloe Vera extract or gel in with petroleum jelly and apply it at bedtime.

Be prepared: your baby is going to be a little greasy and/or sticky during this stage. It sure beats watching your baby become increasingly uncomfortable, though. If you are diligent and proactive about always keeping something on your baby’s (clean) skin, it should start clearing up within a few days.

It is tough to watch your baby go through the painful process of teething.  Along with extra cuddles and help with pain relief, there are several things you can do to help soothe your baby through this phase.  With proper attention and care, teething rash can be prevented and treated easily at home.

However, if the rash shows signs of infection or does not clear up within a week after following these steps, please consult with your pediatrician.  They may prescribe something a little stronger than you can find over the counter.

And try not to worry – this won’t last forever.  Before you know it, you’ll be laughing at those old pictures of your baby’s cute little red cheeks (and remembering how greasy she was).

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