Overview of heat rash
Heat rash is also known as prickly heat and miliaria isn’t just for babies. It affects adults, too, especially during hot, humid weather. It develops when blocked pores (sweat ducts) trap perspiration under your skin. Symptoms range from superficial blisters to deep, red lumps. Some forms of heat rash feel prickly or intensely itchy.
It can clear on its own. Severe forms of the condition may need medical care, but the best way to relieve symptoms is to cool your skin and prevent sweating.
Causes of heat rash
It develops when some of your sweat ducts clog. Instead of evaporating, perspiration gets trapped beneath the skin, causing inflammation and rash.
It’s not always clear why the sweat ducts become blocked, but certain factors seem to play a role, including:
- Immature sweat ducts. A newborn’s sweat ducts aren’t fully developed. They can rupture more easily, trapping perspiration beneath the skin. Heat rash can develop in the first week of life, especially if the infant is being warmed in an incubator, is dressed too warmly or has a fever.
- Tropical climates. Hot, humid weather can cause heat rash.
- Physical activity. Intense exercise, hard work or any activity that causes you to sweat heavily can lead to Prickly Heat
- Overheating. Overheating in general dressing too warmly or sleeping under an electric blanket can lead to heat rash.
- Prolonged bed rest. Heat rash can also occur in people who are confined to bed for long periods, especially if they have a fever.
Adults usually develop heat rash in skin folds and where clothing causes friction. In infants, the rash is mainly found on the neck, shoulders and chest. It can also show up in the armpits, elbow creases and groin.
The diagnosis is made by seeing the characteristic heat rash at some common skin site, especially after exposure to heat. A doctor can usually make a diagnosis with a visual examination of the rash. However, complex or atypical cases may need confirmation from a skin transplant, skin scraping, or biopsy. Other skin conditions can mimic heat rashes including allergic reactions, bacterial infections, fungal infections, or eczema.
- Move to a cooler, less humid place.
- Don’t scratch your skin, or it could become infected.
- Keep the affected area dry.
- Don’t use ointments or creams that keep your skin moist.
- You can put powder on the rash to feel more comfortable.
- Use a fan.
- Wear clothes that aren’t tight and don’t trap heat and moisture.
Follow these tips to prevent Prickly Heat:
- Avoid wearing tight clothing that doesn’t allow your skin to breathe. Moisture-wicking fabrics help prevent sweat buildup on the skin.
- Don’t use thick lotions or creams that can clog your pores.
- Try not to become overheated, especially in warmer months. Seek out air-conditioning.
- Use a soap that won’t dry your skin and doesn’t have fragrances or dyes.
It is a minor discomfort that will resolve itself in a matter of days for most people. Talk with your doctor if you believe you may have something more serious or if you have heat rash that frequently recurs.