Rash Around Mouth: Is It A Food Allergy?

Finding a rash around your child’s mouth after they have eaten can be a little worrisome.  This can mean that they have an allergy, a contact dermatitis, or another form of rash.  Most rashes that children have around their mouths are flat, or slightly raised red spots.

If the rash seems to cause other things like trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, the rash lasts longer than 24 hours, or widespread hives start to appear.

If any of these occur along with the rash then you will want to reach out to your medical provider.


Drool rash is a common rash you can see in your baby or young child.  Drool rash can be a side effect of teething.  This rash is caused by constant saliva and wetness on your baby’s sensitive skin.  Most commonly found on the child’s mouth, cheeks, neck, and chest.

This rash appears to be flat or slightly raised little red bumps.  It can be difficult to keep your child’s skin free from wetness.  Keeping a soft burp cloth to gently pat your child’s face dry throughout the day can help.  Wearing a soft bib around your child to protect their neck and chest from too much saliva can also be helpful.  Applying a layer of Aquaphor or Vaseline to the affected area can help with creating a barrier between the child’s skin and the saliva.

Perioral Food Rash

Another cause of a rash around your child’s mouth could be Perioral food rash.  Peri meaning around, and oral meaning mouth, it means a rash around the mouth.  This rash occurs when the skin comes in contact with a food.  Certain foods seem to be more triggers than others such as fruits, berries especially, and tomatoes.  Perioral food rash is most common in babies and toddlers from age six months to three years.

The rash appears on the mouth and chin and sometimes the cheeks.  The spots are usually small red spots, sometimes raised.  They may look like little pimples.  The rash usually only appears where the food came in contact with the skin.  It can sometimes be difficult to identify what food causes your child’s reaction.  Extensive pacifier use can cause the rash to last longer.  This is because the pacifier can irritate the skin, or become damp from drool.

No treatment may be needed.  If the rash seems to appear itchy or bothersome, you can apply a hydrocortisone cream to the affected area.  Otherwise you can just keep the area dry and clean.  Make sure to wipe your child’s face after eating gently.  Don’t use too much soap or it could dry out the rash and cause more irritation.  Even though your child gets a reaction from contact from food, this does not mean they have an allergy.  You may want to wait for a month before trying the food again.  If the rash is mild and goes away within a few hours you can keep offering the food to your child.  Just because the food caused a rash once doesn’t always mean that it will cause it again.  The rash usually resolves in approximately six hours.  Most of the time Perioral food allergy is diagnosed by appearance.  There is no test to diagnose it.

If the rash doesn’t get better after 24 hours you may want to reach out to your healthcare provider.  Other causes to reach out to your doctor would be if the rash is extremely elevated, the rash occurs in places where food has not touched such as the back of the legs, or chest, another reason to reach out to your doctor is if the food that causes the rash is not a fruit or berry.  If your child has ingested eggs, milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, or fish then you will want to get them tested to make sure it isn’t an allergy.

Take Away

A rash after eating food does not always indicate an allergy.  It can sometimes be caused by excess drool which is very common with tiny children.  Another cause can be Perioral food rash.  Usually resolving within six hours a mild rash caused by food contact usually fruits or berries.  The acidity in these foods cause irritation around your child’s mouth.  Making sure to wipe your child’s mouth quickly after they eat can help with preventing this rash from occurring.  If you feel like your child’s demeanor has changed after having this rash, reach out to your doctor.

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