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Prickly Heat (Heat Rash) - Facts and Information

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-10-12 - A heat rash is a form of skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot and humid weather. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Disabled World.

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A heat rash is a form of skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot and humid weather. The condition may happen to people of any age, although it is more common in young children.

Heat rash is also referred to as, 'prickly heat,' and is harmless, but involves a very itchy skin rash with small red spots all over the affected areas of a person's skin. Heat rash may even include water blistering.

Causes and Symptoms of Heat Rash

Heat rash is caused by the blockage and inflammation of a person's sweat ducts during times when they are exposed to both heat and high levels of humidity. The person's blocked sweat ducts cause sweat to escape from their body into adjacent tissues, producing the prickling and itching sensations the person feels which are associated with the condition.

A person's forehead, often underneath a visor or a cap, in body folds, their chest, upper back, or on their arms, are commonly affected by heat rash. Small red spots appear on areas of the person's body where sweat collects to include the person's armpits, groin, the bend of their elbows and knees, or their waist. Mild swelling and redness can occur in the areas that are affected.

Recognizing Heat Rash

A heat rash appears like a cluster of red pimples, or small blisters. The rash is more likely to appear on a person's upper chest or neck, in their groin area, under their breasts, or in the creases of their elbows. Many times a heat rash will appear in the moist skin folds of a person's arms, legs, neck, or at the person's waistline or buttocks. Bands of red areas may occur, patches of reddened areas, or blistering.

Heat rashes are the result of humid and hot weather conditions and skin contacting itself, as well as clogged pores. Clothing and diapers can aggravate the condition. Plastic diaper pants or disposable diaper plastic can irritate a child's skin surface, increasing the stimulus to the child's sweat glands. The rash can seem very similar to that caused by infected hair follicles in appearance, although there are no hair follicles in heat rash bumps.

Treating Heat Rash

Perhaps the best form of treatment for heat rash is to provide the affected person with a cooler and less humid environment. It is important to keep the affected area of the person's skin dry. Dusting the area of affected skin with powder might provide the person with comfort. Treating a heat rash can be simple and usually does not require medical intervention. Treatment and prevention of heat rash can include the following:

  • Use an antiperspirant
  • Clean your skin gently
  • Dry yourself thoroughly
  • Use a fan if you need to cool off
  • Do not scratch the affected area
  • Wear natural fabrics such as cotton
  • Take frequent cool baths or showers
  • Wear light and loose-fitting soft clothes
  • Avoid clothes that trap heat and moisture
  • Stay in cool, air-conditioned, or well-ventilated environment
  • Apply calamine lotion or prickly rash lotions to soothe the affected areas
  • If you experience excessive itching, or if your rash is infected, consult a physician
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using antihistamines or a low-dose steroid cream or lotion
  • Dust bland types of powder such as talcum powders without perfume on body creases and affected areas
  • Avoid using ointments or creams "they keep the skin warm and moist and may make the condition worse

Preventing a heat rash can involve using an air conditioner or a fan, and dressing in light clothing made from cotton. Cotton clothing permits sweat to evaporate more easily than clothing made from synthetic fibers. Taking frequent showers or baths in water that is lukewarm can help to relieve the symptoms of a heat rash. Use of talcum powders that do not have perfumes can as well.

Babies and Heat Rash

Babies are much like adults where heat rashes are concerned. They get heat rashes for the same reasons; their pores and sweat glands become blocked in hot weather and high humidity. As an infant sweats, little red bumps, and potentially even tiny blisters, form on their skin because their blocked glands are unable to clear the sweat.

In efforts to avoid a heat rash, it is important to keep a baby both dry and cool during weather that is hot and humid. Keep the baby dressed in clothing that is lightweight and made of cotton, or a fabric that is absorbent and keeps moisture away from their skin. If you do not have access to air conditioning, a fan can help to evaporate moisture and keep your baby cool. Keep the fan far enough away from your baby so there is only a gentle breeze drifting over your baby.

Avoid using creams or ointments on your baby's skin because they do not prevent or improve a heat rash. Creams and ointments often keep a baby's skin warmer and block the baby's pores in the process. The best way to prevent a heat rash from occurring on your baby's skin is to keep your baby's skin dry and cool when the weather becomes hot and humid.

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