Into the third month, our baby began to suck her fingers. At first, it was just her thumb and then she upgraded to fingers. In fact, all 4 of them!
Needless to say, we weren’t exactly excited but we saw this coming as we too were ‘warned’ by friends whose babies had been there, done that. On a scientific note, babies’ salivary glands begin to work from 2 to 3 months of age, so get ready!
Now it wasn’t just the sight of saliva that puts us on red alert. As a doctor specialising in child health, I have seen my fair share of babies with drool rashes on their small pretty faces, as a result of saliva. Babies can’t help it. They suck their fingers and smear the saliva all over their faces. In addition, once they can roll over, it gets worse as they rub their saliva-smeared faces against the mattress aggressively. Talk about adding oil to fire.
Our baby was no exception. From her fourth month, she began to develop rashes. One patch was on her right cheek and mini rashes also appear on her chin where saliva usually gathers.
Depending on the severity of the rashes, you may want to bring your baby to the clinic or hospital for an examination. Most likely, the doctor will suggest that it is nothing to worry about, and prescribe some cream for you to apply finely over the affected areas.
Note: The prescription could be a steroid cream, with hydrocortisone cream being a very common choice because it does help to reduce inflammation of eczema. It is usually prescribed for a short duration of treatment, after which if it doesn’t get better, you should stop using and consult your paediatrician again.
My recommendation is to avoid using steroid cream as much as you can. The skin rash / irritation is likely to be caused by the saliva. To recover from that state, be diligent in cleaning your baby’s face and fingers. You can use a wet cloth to do it. Alcohol wipes are not recommended. After cleaning, you can also put on pure moisturising cream for baby to prevent the rash from being irritated by dryness. Within 1-2 day, if you do this consistently, your baby’s skin condition will improve. Continue for a week, and things should resume back to normal. This is my preferred natural treatment, and you have no concern over steroid cream causing your baby’s skin to develop other side effects.
You can also use a bib if your baby drools quite extensively onto his/her clothes. Just remember to keep a stack of those bibs ready or alternatively, get one that is waterproof.
Don’t be too worried if your baby skin develop rashes. It is very normal for babies to go through some form of skin irritation. As parents, we can alleviate part of the problem by keeping the baby clean. This includes maintaining the cleanliness of the surroundings such as the mattress they sleep on, the play mat, their clothing etc. For cleaning, we usually use water that has been purified. This ensures water is not too hard, and free of bacteria.