Woman looking at a teething infant

Teething Rash: Symptoms And Treatment

Teething rash, sometimes called a drool rash, is the result of excessive drool irritating a baby's face while teeth are coming in. When your baby has any kind of rash on their body, it's always wise to question whether it's from teething or another cause. Keep reading for some tips on how to prevent and treat a drool rash and how to distinguish it from other types of baby rashes.

A Rash from Teething or Something Else?

The dribbles of drool that teething causes can result in skin irritation that leads to a rash. Teething rashes can develop on the cheeks, chin, neck and chest, and look like chapped skin or small red bumps. Teething should not cause a rash on the baby's arms, legs or back, however, so any full-body irritations should be looked at by a pediatrician.

The National Health Service of the United Kingdom (NHS) reports that infants can have rashes as young as a few days old. Likewise, teething can begin as early as two months old, so it's helpful to be aware of these other types of rashes that can occur on or near your child's face or mouth:

  • Eczema can occur anywhere on your baby's body and looks dried, cracked and red.
  • Erythema toxicum presents as blotchy red skin. It appears only in newborns and affects at least half of infants in the first few days or weeks after birth.
  • Hand, foot and mouth disease is a virus marked by a blistery rash around the mouth, hands and feet (thus the name). It can also present with mouth sores or a mild fever, and usually lasts about a week, says the NHS.
  • Hives are typically a result of food allergy and show up as bright red, itchy bumps that can occur anywhere on the body. Ask your pediatrician about using antihistamines if your baby gets hives after eating.

Unlike these four conditions, a rash from teething will occur only on your baby's face or neck area, and typically goes hand-in-hand with other teething symptoms. It's always best to call your pediatrician, no matter the appearance of red spots, to confirm the cause and treatment. Your pediatrician may prescribe ointments or antibiotics depending on the cause of the rash.

Treating Teething Rash

To limit the drool that causes teething rash in the first place, start by offering a chilled teething ring. (Avoid a completely frozen teething toy, as this can harm your baby's gums.) You can massage the irritated area with a clean finger or gauze to decrease inflammation, and keep a burp cloth or clean rag on hand to wipe the drool off your baby's face.

Your baby's skin is tender and sensitive, so it's normal to be concerned about using a topical treatment. Parents magazine suggests dabbing petroleum jelly around the mouth to act as a gentle barrier to moisture and prevent a rash. Your pediatrician might also recommend an unscented lotion or a natural moisturizer like shea butter.

Before you reach for an over-the-counter teething gel as a solution, take note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises caregivers that teething gels containing benzocaine can be toxic to infants. Homeopathic teething gels and tablets may also be dangerous, according to the FDA. The ingredients in homeopathic drugs are not regulated for safety or efficacy, and both tablets and gels have been found to be toxic to young children. Ask your pediatrician about alternative pain relief like infant doses of acetaminophen.

What to Ask Your Pediatrician

If a rash continues for several days and your child shows serious symptoms, such as a high fever, call your doctor, says the American Dental Association. Keep track of your child's food intake so that you can keep notes about any possible food allergy that may cause a rash.

Teething and drool are a normal part of raising a baby. Drool rash can be uncomfortable, but before you know it the red spots will have cleared up and your little one will have a beautiful new smile!

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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