Excessive drooling


Registered User
Feb 25, 2009
My mother is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s (eg she can’t walk, can’t feed herself, can barely talk and what she does say is largely unintelligible etc) and has been in a care home for the past 18 months.

Her head has also seemed to have ‘set’ to her left side as well, no amount of gently trying to move it back to a more centred position helps. Also, she lies in a recliner chair now, as when she sat in a regular chair she would slump forward and to her left.

For the past couple of months we’ve also noticed that she drools excessively now too, and often when I visit her her clothing will be absolutely soaking on her left side. I’ve mentioned this to staff (who cannot fail to have noticed it anyway) and whenever I visit I try and place a clean flannel underneath her chin to act as a barrier between the drool and the clothing. Unfortunately this often doesn’t stay in place if my mam gets her hands on it (it would be better to put the flannel underneath her clothing, but this is tricky for me because of the rigid way she lies now)

I’ve noticed recently that the skin around my mam’s neck and underneath her chin is becoming very red and sore looking. Again, I’ve mentioned this to staff and I put E45 cream on it whenever I visit if I can (often they have her in turtlenecks which makes things difficult) but I was wondering if anyone else has had experience of this with their loved ones and can suggest anything to me to alleviate the problem.

I know there are drugs that can reduce saliva, but I really don’t wish to go down that route because of the potential side effects. What’s the best thing to treat the sore-looking skin – E45 cream, barrier cream, Vaseline?

Thank you.


Registered User
Aug 23, 2009
kilmarnock ayrshire
Hi there
when my son was a toddler and teething he dribbled
all day long and soaked his clothes.
I bought a large bib with plastic one side towelling
on the other and put it underneath his shirt with the
towelling side downwards next to his skin and the
plastic side upper most.
His shirt got wet but his skin stayed nice and dry and
didn't get sore. Worked for us - worth a try!!
all the best


Registered User
Aug 20, 2006
Excessive drooling can be caused by two things. The first is sialorrhea - and it is nearly always accompanied by a neurological problem that inhibit the normal swallowing of saliva. The second is hypersecretion, in which excessive amounts of saliva are produced, which has a variety of causes.

First thing is to get your mum checked by a doctor to make sure there is not some medical condition causing excessive production.

I rather suspect though that the problem lies with swallowing, the reflex may have been forgotten, or she is not swallowing for some other reason. In that case, an occupational therapist may be able to help (there are those that specifically deal with difficulties swallowing). But if the dementia is advanced then there may be no alternative but to deal with the practical problems arising. something like a tie-on plastic bib may help, or as you say using a barrier or E45 cream.

Ultimately it may be necessary to resort to direct treatment, there are medications which reduce saliva production (limited due to side effects) but one alternative is to have botox injections that block saliva production (safe because they are localised in effect) although these have to be repeated every few months.


Registered User
Feb 28, 2005
west mids
Hiya, my mum also dribbled excessivley in the late stages of her illness but it was due to her losing her swallowing reflex and being unable to swallow her saliva.

The girls in her care home used a barrier cream and nappy liners under a flannel which stopped her skin getting sore.

Good luck x


Registered User
Mar 16, 2010
London & Oxford
Hello AMS

I use for my cousin, also in the latter stages, a terry bib which is relatively short and fixed with a velcro tab (available for babies in Motherc..e stores or high street supermarkets).

I also use a half doughnut shaped soft pillow to hold up her chin. (something like this: http://www.tauntonleisure.com/micro-bean-travel-neck-pillow/p5229). You can find these bean bag type lightweight pillows typically at motorway stops or travel shops. They are easy to put in the washing machine and tumble drier and are malleable to offer support where needed without being too thick in the wrong places.

Best wishes!

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Just to say one big concern about excessive drooling is dehydration. It is even more important for the person who drools or dribbles to drink, to replace the fluid being lost.


Registered User
Feb 25, 2009
Thank you to everyone for taking the time to reply :)

Martina - I know the sort of half-donut pillows that you mean, and my mam actually has one :)

Thank you for your suggestions - I'll definitely be trying some of them out, and Grannie G, you make a good point that I hadn't considered. I visit my mam 3 afternoons a week to feed her her dinner and always make sure she has a good drink each time, and I know my dad visits her 3 mornings a week and she ensures she drinks too, so I'll just mention to the staff in the home to ensure she drinks enough.

I'm sure she is hydrated enough though ... staff are always telling me how she's got a good appetite and my experience bears this out ... she always eats all the meals, drinks and puddings I feed her.