Question of the Day
My baby's face is red with drool. It is especially severe around the lips and cheeks. They say it gets better if you leave it alone, but it's sad to watch. How should I manage it?
Why do babies get inflamed skin on their faces from saliva? At around 2-3 months of age, babies develop salivary glands. However, babies are still unable to swallow saliva because the muscles around their mouths are not strong enough. So, saliva leaks out around the lips. This process intensifies around 6 months of age because the baby's first teeth are coming up.
When the baby's first teeth appear, their saliva production increases, and children touch their mouths more, because their mouths will feel itchy. During this process, the area around the baby's mouth becomes covered with saliva, which can cause inflammation and the face to turn red.
Saliva causes irritation on the baby's skin because of contact dermatitis. When your baby starts weaning, the food can make things worse as it touches the reddened skin, since babies are naturally messy eaters.
Tip: Does your child keep sucking their hands even though they don't have a toothache? Maybe it's because of the child's desire to suck. If the baby gets irritated while sucking with their finger in their mouth, it can be inferred that they have a toothache. If your child puts their hand to their mouth because of the urge to suck, give them a pacifier.
How to Manage Inflamed Skin at Home!
The basics of the at-home method are as follows.
1. Wash with water.
No matter how much you apply a high-moisture cream, you might find that your baby’s irritated skin isn’t getting better. If you only wiped the baby's skin with a handkerchief and then applied cream, all the saliva on their skin would not have been removed. Try washing their skin thoroughly with water, then applying the cream.
Don’t forget to wash your hands first. The mother should wipe the baby's skin with clean hands. When wiping the baby's skin, do not rub but instead wet it with lukewarm water. It is good to think of it as moistening and then moisturising the child's face.
2. Wipe off the water well.
Do not rub your child's face with a towel. The irritation may be severe. Remove the moisture by gently pressing a gauze handkerchief against the baby's skin. This will cleanly remove the saliva from your baby's skin.
3. Apply plenty of moisturising cream.
Do not rub too much when you’re helping the moisturising cream absorb. Even if it does not spread evenly and clumps, it is okay. Applying too much moisturising cream too often can be irritating. It is good to apply it 3 times a day. Apply three times: once during a nap, once during the night's sleep, and once during your baby’s deep sleep in the morning.
Tip: When should you apply the cream? It is good to apply when the child is sleepy. After washing, applying cream, and getting a good night's sleep, your baby's skin will slowly recover.
4. Do not use wet tissues.
Wet tissues can irritate sensitive skin. Wipe the baby's saliva frequently with a gauze handkerchief.
# Parenting advice from Director Hyang-Hwa Kwon
At this age, having irritated skin on the face and chin is a natural phenomenon. A child drools a lot, but their skin is weak, so contact dermatitis caused by saliva is inevitable. As the habit of drooling gradually decreases, the condition of their skin will naturally improve.
Please don't worry too much. Of course, if the child's skin condition worsens excessively, such as demonstrating signs of secondary infection, a specialist diagnosis may be required.
Author: Kwon Hyang-hwa
- Newborn Childcare Coach
- IBCLC International Breastfeeding Specialist
- Worked as the director of a postpartum care center for 10 years.