New parents are often plagued by uncertainty when it comes to their infants. The smallest spike in temperature and the tiniest cough can send them running for the phone to call the pediatrician's emergency number. When the baby is wailing uncontrollably, the situation gets even more intense as frantic parents try to figure out what's wrong.
Eventually you'll learn to understand the noises that indicate when your baby wants to be fed or changed, or when he or she is fussy. You'll also gain valuable knowledge about what constitutes an emergency worth dragging a healthcare provider out of bed for.
That said, there are circumstances in which it is only natural to have a knee-jerk, panic reaction where your child's health is concerned. When you discover that your baby is covered in red, itchy bumps you should be understandably concerned.
These days you can easily do some preliminary sleuthing online to compare and contrast your baby's symptoms with potential afflictions like allergies, chicken pox, or poison ivy, just for example, before you put in a call to your healthcare provider for diagnosis. However, there's a good chance your child is suffering from a common malady: heat rash.
This rash, characterized by red or white bumps or red splotches, is not abnormal for infants and chances are it won't require serious medical intervention. Still, there's no need for your baby to suffer the discomfort of the condition for long. Here are a few things you should know about heat rash, including what causes it, what the symptoms are, and how you can treat and prevent it in the future.
Although heat rashes are much more common among babies, they can also occur in children, adolescents, and adults. Heat rashes are ostensibly the result of excessive sweating. This is not to say that every overheated infant will get heat rash, but it's a definite possibility.
The rash, also known as prickly heat or miliaria, occurs when sweat glands become clogged as a result of excessive sweating. Because your baby's glands are not as well developed as those of older children or adults, he/she is much more susceptible to this condition. You'll likely notice that heat rash occurs more frequently during warmer months.
Whenever it occurs, the results are the telltale bumps or patches, which tend to spring up on the face and anywhere your baby has folds of skin, such as the neck, arms and legs, and the diaper area. If you're not sure if your baby is suffering from heat rash or something else, you should contact your healthcare provider for diagnosis.
In some cases heat rash can also be a byproduct of a fever. In such instances you should call for professional help to get to the bottom of the fever, if not the attendant rash.
As noted above, the visible signs of heat rash are generally patches of red or white bumps or red splotches. The rash may resemble an outbreak of pimples or blisters.
Areas suffering from heat rash will likely be itchy, tingly, prickly, or even painful, and believe it or not, your baby will tell you about it. Infants with heat rash are almost certain to be irritable thanks to the discomfort caused by the condition, so fussiness and trouble sleeping are to be expected.
When treated properly, heat rashes should disappear or at least begin to subside within just a couple of days. If the rash persists or worsens, it's time to call your healthcare provider for advice.
The good news is that heat rash is generally easy to treat and prevent. The first step is to remove the heat source that is causing your baby to sweat so much. If it's summer, you might want to increase the air conditioning or put a fan in the nursery to keep your infant cool.
What if your baby gets heat rashes during the winter? You've probably turned the household heating too high or you've bundled your baby in too many blankets. You can do a lot of good by keeping your home and your baby at a comfortable temperature.
It's probably not a great idea to use powders to keep your baby dry – such products are more likely to clog pores and lead to further irritation. You can, however, take care with your child's sensitive skin, using mild, natural soap for cleansing and gently patting skin dry with a soft towel.
Until your baby gets over heat rash, try to avoid unnecessary clothing. Naked skin that can breathe will probably recover faster. If clothes are needed, opt for lightweight, breathable garments that are a little loose. These steps can also be used to avoid heat rash in general if your baby seems to be prone to this condition.