What is a saliva rash?

A saliva rash is a form of contact dermatitis that can break out around the mouth, face, and throat in infants. Also known as drip rash, it occurs because babies tend to drool and the saliva is alkaline, which irritates the skin. It also contains traces of digestive enzymes that can create more irritation. This condition usually resolves as children get older and develop better control over drooling. In some cases, medical attention may be required because the baby could also have a skin infection or other problem.

In the mouth, saliva provides lubrication and some of the enzymes needed to start the digestive process. Babies, who are still developing motor control, tend to drool and dribble, leaving deposits of saliva around the mouth. This can cause a skin rash that may be raised, red, and bumpy. The saliva rash may come and go over time.

Various measures can be used to treat a saliva rash. Regularly washing a baby's face with a mild soap designed for babies and gently drying it can reduce skin irritation. This will remove saliva deposits so they don't have a chance to cause skin irritation, without leaving the skin moist; This can cause eczema over time. Using a bib to catch saliva during feedings can also help, as can wiping the face with a damp cloth after the baby has eaten.

Sometimes a saliva rash occurs at the same time as a bacterial infection. Surface bacteria or fungi can take advantage of skin irritation to begin colonizing the skin, in which case the rash may worsen and the baby may become distressed. A mild topical medication can treat the infection until it clears up. It is advisable to speak with a pediatrician or other medical professional trained in child care about which medication to use, as baby skin is delicate and some preparations may be too harsh on the face.

Skin creams are also available to soothe skin irritation and keep the skin lubricated to reduce the incidence of eczema. If a baby has a recurring saliva rash that persists despite a clean face and an exam reveals no signs of an underlying bacterial infection, it may be wise to consider using a baby moisturizer. These products can reduce discomfort. They can take several days to be fully effective, and again it's important to use a baby-safe product to avoid damaging the fragile skin on your face.

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