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Summer is a favorite season for many people, especially after a long winter. But the heat and sweat often leave many looking for relief. During the summer, you may notice a red and uncomfortable rash that appears on the hottest of days. We will discuss prickly heat, what it is and how to prevent it so you can be comfortable all summer long.
What is Prickly Heat and How to Prevent It
If you live in a hot and humid climate during the summer or even other times of the year, you may suffer from tiny red itchy bumps. Maybe you always assumed that these uncomfortable bumps were some kind of bug bite or an allergic reaction to your laundry detergent. If you only get the bumps on hot and humid days, you are probably suffering from prickly heat or recurring heat rash.
Although prickly heat rash is uncomfortable and unsightly, it is common and can be prevented and treated quite easily. We will discuss what causes prickly heat, how to prevent heat rash, and how to treat prickly heat.
What it is (Miliaria, sweat rash)
Prickly heat may also be known as sweat rash, prickly rash, or heat rash. Its proper name is miliaria rubra. Prickly heat is a rash that often affects parts of the body that are covered by clothing like the back, neck, chest, groin, armpits, and abdomen. It can also appear on your hands, face, and may create a wrist rash.
Prickly heat is a rash made up of tiny bumps that are surrounded by an area of red skin. The rash can be small or large. It may be worse on some parts of the body than others. Heat spots can also look like tiny blisters and may be accompanied by mild swelling or itching. Prickly heat gets its name from the stinging or intense prickling sensation that often results from the rash.
While it’s uncomfortable and itchy, prickly heat is rarely serious, especially if treated immediately.
What causes it? (Heat and humidity, blocked sweat glands)
When we sweat, dead skin cells and bacteria on the surface of the skin can block sweat glands. As a result, sweat is trapped beneath the skin the heat rash develops. When the bumps burst and the sweat releases, one may experience a prickly or stinging sensation.
Prickly heat is most common in children and babies due to immature sweat glands, but it can develop in anyone who has an excess of trapped perspiration. Individuals at a greater risk of heat rash include those who spend a long time in bed due to illness or immobility, overweight, sitting too close to a fire or heater, and wearing too much clothing.
Prickly heat is most likely to occur in when someone sweats more than usual or in hot and humid climates. The rash can occur in cooler climates as well.
Types of Prickly Heat Rash
Miliaria comes in a variety of forms, each with their own unique symptoms. Following are a few common varieties:
- Miliaria Rubra – The most common variety of this condition, Rubra involves intense itching and a distinct lack of sweat due to blocked sweat ducts.
- Miliaria Crystalline – This form of Miliaria resembles blisters and causes no pain as it is relatively external compared to Rubra as well as other forms.
- Miliaria Profunda – This variety is far deeper-seated within the sweat duct, leading to secretions spreading under the outer skin layer.
- Miliaria Pustulosa – This version of the condition presents painful pustules in response to the sweat ducts being blocked.
Anyone who has suffered from prickly heat wonders how to get rid of prickly heat and how to stop prickly heat itching. Sometimes heat rash disappears on its own and often quickly with proper treatment. If you still have bad prickly heat rash after a few days (with prevention and treatment), consult your doctor.
If you have other symptoms, such as an infection, or feel unwell, you may have heatstroke and should call your health provider right away.
The best solution for prickly heat is to prevent heat rash. If you live in a hot and humid environment, you may be wondering how to prevent prickly heat, but there are some easy steps to take. It’s not always possible, but if you can, avoid heat, humidity, and excess sweating. Spend some time in air conditioning or in front of a fan.
Avoid wearing too many layers of clothing and do everything you can to keep your skin cool. If you’re an avid exerciser or do manual labor, you may need to be a little less strenuous. Although preventing heat rash is best for prickly heat, it’s not always a guarantee against prickly heat.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of prickly heat rash fast, how to treat heat rash, and want home remedies for heat rash, read on:
If you are wondering how to stop heat rash, an effective prickly heat treatment may be in the bathtub. Cool showers and baths are a great way to keep your skin from getting overheated and essential to keeping your skin clean. They can also offer relief when you have prickly heat.
Adding oatmeal to a bath is a popular heat rash treatment because it is soothing and has anti-inflammatory properties. While you can purchase oatmeal bath solution in the store, it’s easy to make at home, and you don’t have to go out in the heat.
To make an oatmeal bath, grind oats until it becomes a fine oatmeal powder. Add one cup of the powder to a bathtub filled with cool water. Stir well until the water appears milky. Soak in the tub for 20 to 30 minutes, gently pat dry your body with a soft towel, and repeat twice a day for a week if needed. If you only have heat rash on feet, you can make an oatmeal foot bath.
If you want to know how to stop heat bumps and get immediate relief, a cold compress is effective. Not only does a cold compress make you feel cooler on a hot day, but it will take the pain and irritation away from inflammation and itching. This treatment is great for small areas like prickly heat on face.
To make a cold compress, wrap ice cubes in a clean dishtowel and place on the affected area for up to 10 minutes. You can also use a bag of frozen vegetables or soak a clean, cotton cloth in cold water. Ice packs from your freezer may work well, too.
Repeating this treatment a few times a day for about a week can help manage the rash and also be effective in heat rash prevention (or keep it from spreading).
While the cold compress may feel good on your skin, always use a cloth as a barrier from direct cold and don’t exceed 10 minutes at a time. Give your skin a break from the cold to avoid an ice burn to the skin. If your skin begins to feel too cold before 10 minutes, remove the compress and try again later.
Need more ideas how to cure heat rash? Behold the power of baking soda. Baking soda is inexpensive and you probably already have a box of it in your cupboard or fridge. Baking soda acts as a gentle exfoliant which removes dead skin, dirt, and other bacteria thus helping to unclog pores.
As a result, you can get relief from the itch and inflammation of prickly heat. To use baking soda for your prickly heat rash add one teaspoon of baking soda to one cup of water. Soak a clean cloth in the solution and wring out excess water. Put the cloth over the affected area for up to 10 minutes and repeat up to five times a day for a week or when needed.
Avoid rubbing the skin with the cloth or the solution as your heat rash may become irritated and become more painful.
Wear Loose Fitting Clothing
If you want to know how to avoid heat rash and what you can do for prickly heat, wearing loose fitting clothing is your answer. In the summer heat we all want to wear as little of clothing as possible, but many times this isn’t always an option. Wearing loose-fitting clothing made of cotton will help you avoid prickly heat and offer comfort while you are treating heat rash.
Always wear clothing that will help to absorb and wick away sweat. Avoid clothing made of synthetic fabrics and wearing too many layers. If your clothing becomes sweaty or damp, try to change your clothing as soon as possible.
The last time you used calamine lotion, you may have used it to treat the itch of chicken pox or after you brushed up against poison ivy. Using calamine lotion for heat rash can help sooth and protect the skin. Always read the label and follow the dosing instructions when using calamine lotion.
The famously pink lotion can be found at most pharmacies and grocery stores and is often an essential in most medicine cabinets. To use as a treatment for prickly heat, shake the lotion well before using. Apply with a cotton ball or clean, soft cloth. Apply to a small affected area; avoid applying to large areas of your body.
Owning an aloe vera plant can be beneficial when you have burns and other skin irritations like prickly heat. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory, soothing, and cooling properties, aloe vera is an effective and convenient home remedy treatment for heat rash.
Carefully cut an aloe vera leaf from the plant and slice the leaf open to extract the fresh aloe vera gel. Rub the gel over the rash, leave it on for at least 20 minutes and then take a cool bath or shower. Repeat this at least twice a day for about a week. If you don’t have an aloe plant or it’s not well established, you may purchase aloe gel at the pharmacy.