Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, is a term given to a condition where the skin has an itching, stinging area due to excess heat. While the condition can occur in most anyone, it most commonly occurs in infants. People who are very active or are bedridden are also more likely to develop heat rash symptoms.
The areas of the body frequently affected are:
- Clothed parts of the body that allow heat to build up.
- Back and neck
- Abdomen and upper chest
Heat rash is characterized by tiny bumps surrounded by a reddened area of skin. Routinely, heat rash may resolve on its own. However when heat rash interferes with the body’s ability to cool itself; fever, heat exhaustion, even death is possible.
Beginning with excessive perspiration in a hot humid environment, heat rash progresses as the perspiration damages the skin cells. A barrier forms that traps sweat under the skin and the characteristic bumps are formed. When the bumps burst and release sweat it stings or has a prickly sensation.
Recommended Treatments to Resolve Heat Rash Quickly are:
- Staying in a cool environment is the best treatment for heat rash.
- Using fans to circulate air
- Wearing lightweight breathable clothing such cotton
- Reduce physical activity especially in hot environments.
- Avoid using powders, ointments, creams and lotions that can block pores
- Avoid tight fitting clothing
- Bathe in cool water with non drying soap
These are also good methods to prevent heat rash from occurring. Infants are especially prone to heat rash year round (increased incidence happens in the summer though). Your baby will be much more content if you can prevent heat rash from developing. Infants and children’s heat rash is more likely to progress to more serious complications such as infection or impetigo. Monitoring infants’ skin closely is recommended. More severe heat rash may require treatments to relieve discomfort and prevent complications.
Possible treatment options for more severe heat rash include:
- Calamine lotion helps with itching
- Anhydrous lanolin may help stop duct blockage and developing new lesions.
- Topical Cortisone Cream may reduce inflammation.
A complication from heat rash is skin infection. The bumps that occur can get bacteria in them when the burst open. Practicing frequent hand washing and good skin care can help to reduce this risk. Any rash that develops oozing pustules may be infected. Antibiotic cream usually alleviates this. Heat Rash that remains unresolved for more than a few days should be checked by a doctor.
Heat rash that develops the following symptoms should also be checked by your doctor:
- Increased pain, swelling, or warmth around the affected area
- Lymph nodes in the armpit, neck or groin become swollen
- Fever and/or chills
Your doctor can determine whether your problem is heat rash or something else with a visual exam. No other tests are required.