Teething Rash on baby's face

Depending on who you ask, infants who are “cutting” their teeth or “teething” can develop a wide variety of viral-like symptoms. Although there are still fairly controversial opinions on which ones are caused by teething or not, “teething rash” is one of them. And if you’re the parent of a baby who is teething, you know just how hard it can be.

What Is A Teething Rash?

A teething rash is when an infant shows some type of rash-like symptoms around their mouth, on their face, or elsewhere on their body. It’s attributed to tooth eruption, or at least closely linked to it.

Although there’s not a lot of recent research on the issue, some studies do suggest that infants who are teething may develop symptoms of a teething rash on their face, runny nose, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and similar virus-like side effects. But even then, some pediatricians, dentists, and pediatric dentists will say that there’s no such thing as a teething rash or a child having a fever whenever they’re cutting teeth.[1]

But let’s say—disagreements aside—that teething rash is a real thing. And as a parent, you’ve worked with your pediatrician to rule out other possible rashes. Such as Hand, Foot & Mouth, or Scarlet Fever. If it’s just a teething rash, treatment for you baby's irritated skin is fairly straightforward.

Symptoms Of Teething Rashes 

If your child is developing a skin rash on their face, it might be isolated just around their lips or even spread across their cheeks. Some parents even notice a rise in diaper rash, which might be due to diarrhea that seems to accompany the teething rash.

Common symptoms include:

  • Drooling and excess saliva
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Biting
  • Sucking
  • Ear-rubbing

In most cases, the main giveaway that a child is teething are irritability and an increase in saliva or drooling. Any fever is usually short-lived and tends to be isolated to the day when the tooth actually pops through the gums.

Teething Rash On The Body

Anytime a baby drools excessively or grabs at their mouth—both of which are common while teething—it can cause rash-like symptoms to spread elsewhere. Such as across your baby's chin, face, lips, neck, or upper torso. Sometimes the rash is from the moisture in their neck folds.

But if a “teething rash” takes over their whole body, chances are it’s not teething-related and is more likely a viral infection. Some of the most common types of rashes to develop in babies include things like a heat rash, impetigo, chickenpox, thrush, scarlet fever, roseola, and hand, foot, & mouth. Eczema, ringworm, and blocked oil glands are a few others.

If the rash is across their body but not around their mouth, it likely isn’t a teething rash at all.

How Long Do Teething Rashes Last?

Some studies have found that the usual teething symptoms last for about an 8-day window.[2] This includes about four days before the tooth erupts, the day it erupts, and then about three days afterward.  This timeframe is usually referred to as the “teething period” and is applicable to each of the 20 primary teeth that your child will eventually get.

Since baby teeth tend to erupt in pairs, it’s normal to have some extended symptoms of teething, rash or not, for longer than a week. Being that tooth eruption begins around age six months and concludes somewhere around the child’s 2nd birthday, it can be an on-and-off plethora of teething symptoms across an 18-month period, give or take a few months.

How To Treat Teething Rash

Depending on the type of your baby's teething rash, there are a couple of things you can do to help.

First, try to keep their face dry. If there is constantly saliva all over their mouth and face, they’re going to be more likely to develop some type of skin irritation.

Second, try putting socks or mittens over your baby’s hands. This will prevent them from scratching their face whenever they’re grabbing at their mouth or ears out of pain.

Finally, ask your pediatrician about which type of over-the-counter creams are safe to use on your baby’s skin for a rash. You do not want to use something that will get rubbed into their mouth and possibly be ingested, so always stick with your pediatrician’s recommendation.

Monitor your baby's rash to make sure it doesn’t spread elsewhere. If it does, call your pediatrician’s office.

Preventing Teething Rash

Not every child develops rashes or viral-like symptoms when they’re teething. Some babies aren’t even fussy when their teeth are cutting through the gums. This period of your child’s development will require a lot of trial-and-error as you monitor their growth and how they respond to teething individually.

There’s not a lot you can do to prevent a teething rash that’s different than treating it. That is, keeping your baby’s mouth and face clean and dry. After they eat, be sure to clean around their mouth and lips. Use a soft cloth to absorb excess drool to keep your baby's skin clean and dry.

Likewise, be sure to clean anything that’s going inside of your baby’s mouth on a daily basis. Such as teething rings, pacifiers, or other toys they like to chew on, as they may harbor bacteria.

How To Manage Teething Pain

Most pediatric dentists and pediatricians will recommend giving your baby Tylenol or Motrin as directed to help manage obvious discomfort.[3]

The best option for minimizing teething pain is to give your baby something clean and cool to chew on. A refrigerated teething ring is a great example. Don’t dip it in anything sweet, though. You can also use a clean, cool, wet washcloth over your finger to gently rub their gums to temporarily ease irritation.

Recently, there has been a movement to get away from using certain types of over-the-counter teething pain medication on infants and toddlers. Check for labels that say they contain benzocaine or lidocaine, as toxicity or even a fatal accident could occur if your baby ingests them. Experts also warn against the use of homeopathic teething tablets, as they might raise your child’s risk of breathing problems or seizures. The FDA also warns against teething jewelry, as those products “can be dangerous and can lead to serious injury or even death.”[4]

As crazy as it sounds, there’s even one study that shows children who were exposed to tobacco smoke, have a vitamin deficiency, or who were born via C-section are more likely to experience teething pain than other infants.[5]

Teething Diaper Rash

Since some kids experience loose stools when they’re teething, it’s fairly common to see a rise in diaper rash, especially if they have more frequent bowel movements throughout the day as a result.

Take a deep breath! Do your best to make sure they’re in a fresh diaper as early as possible. And consider applying a diaper paste or cream at each change, even if they don’t normally develop diaper rash. It’s easier (and more comfortable for your baby) to help prevent the need for teething rash treatment than it is to tackle a major, painful diaper rash flare-up.

When Talk With Your Baby's Doctor

If your baby is developing a teething rash on their face, double-check to make sure it’s not anywhere else on their body. Especially their torso, hands, or feet. A teething rash isn’t as common as what most people suspect, so it’s more important to rule out other types of viral infections than assume it’s related to teething.

The longest a teething rash should last is during that 8-day window we discussed earlier when the teeth are actively erupting. Anything longer than that needs to be checked by your pediatrician. In all honesty, any rash that’s been there for more than a day or two (and isn’t isolated to the mouth or face) needs to be checked by your pediatrician.  It’s just not worth it to assume it’s something as simple as a teething rash.

Teething Rash or Drool Rash On Baby's Skin

Can teething cause a rash? The jury is still out on how accurate teething-related side effects and ailments are in infants. But some older studies do link teething rash to when babies cut their teeth. The good news is that usually, the symptoms subside within about a week. The bad news is if you wait that long to see a doctor about major illnesses like rashes, diarrhea, or a fever, you run the risk of missing something serious.

Always consult with your pediatrician and pediatric dentist. Make sure your baby sees a dentist by the time their first tooth erupts. The peace of mind in and of itself is worth it!

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