Heat rash or in day to day language "prickly heat" is a common skin problem that gives a burning and itchy sensation. Red or pink rashes/bumps develop on the skin surfaces. Infants and obese people who have overlapping folds of fat are usually more prone to heat rash. Mostly common in hot, humid conditions.
Where does it occur - on covered parts of the body such as abdomen, neck, groin, armpits, back and even underneath breasts. Avoid overdressing or wearing tight clothing.
- Tiny dots or bumps appears surrounded by an area of reddish skin. The rash may give a stinging or a "pins and needles" sensation and thus given the name "prickly heat".
- It is a very common problem in babies. The sweat pores on a baby's skin are very small and are unable to eliminate sweat at the rate it is formed. As a result, the pores get clogged by bacteria and rashes develop. Even in winters, heat rash may appear due to rubbing of heavy ointments on skin.
- Heat rash does not usually require medical treatment. But if the rashes do not go away within 5-7 days or are increasing and fever develops, then better consult a doctor.
Signs of infection developing due to heat rash -
- Increased pain, swelling, redness around the affected area.
- Pus secretion from the bumps.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin, armpit area.
- High fever accompanied by shivering.
Overactive sweat glands that cause excessive perspiration and as a result, the sweat pores get clogged. It usually happens in warm, humid climate. Overdressing in cool weather can also lead to heat rash.
Treatment of Heat Rash
In majority cases, heat rash clears up on its own in a few days.
- You need to keep yourself cool and avoid sweating to speed up the process of healing.
- Take cool showers and keep your skin dry. Prickly heat powders, anti-itch lotions such as calamine can be used to soothe the skin and control itching. Most prickly heat powders contain anti bacterial components; and ingredients such as menthol, camphor present in them have cooling properties.
- Oil based creams, lotions should be avoided as they would not only block the sweat pores but may also behave as irritants on the skin and cause further discomfort and itching.
- At times, vitamin A and C supplements may be consumed during the treatment process to speed up healing.
- Wear loose fitting clothes, so that your skin stays dry and cool.
Healing takes time. The best way to treat heat rash is to keep skin clean and sweat free by taking cool showers or by pressing wet cloth against the affected area. Antibacterial soaps, lotions will lessen the spread of the rash and prevent future outbreaks. Consult a doctor if symptoms do not disappear naturally within 5 - 7 days.
A few handy tips to battle heat rash
- Dress for the heat - light coloured, loose clothing.
- Drink lots of non-alcoholic beverages especially water - more than your thirst indicates.
- Stay indoors when possible.
- Avoid high protein diet - they increase metabolic heat.
- Avoid strenuous activities during the day - slow down.
Heat rash is an easily curable problem. Rather than go for a treatment, prevention is better than cure. So keep the above tips in mind if going out on a summer holiday. And you'll definitely beat the heat.