What is heat rash?
Heat rash is a painful skin condition that often happens in hot weather.
The heat rash symptoms include small clusters of tiny, raised bumps on discoloured, irritated skin with a prickly, burning or itchy sensation.
Heat rash is also called prickly heat, sweat rash, or miliaria Rubra.
Although heat rash can be visible anywhere on the body, it often appears around the skin folds, including:
- in the neck
- near the groin
- under the arms
Heat rash occurs when excessive sweating blocks the sweat pores. You’re most probably to get heat rash if you live in a hot and humid climate.
Mostly, heat rash isn’t too serious and often goes away in colder temperatures. However, it can be very uncomfortable and can get worse if excessive sweating continues for longer.
Let’s take a look at various ways you can soothe heat rash at home.
How to treat heat rash?
Your doctor may recommend a few OTC or prescription medications to treat heat rash.
It is recommended to use ointments such as calamine lotion to treat heat rash symptoms. This lotion has a number of benefits for the skin, partly because of zinc oxide present in it which helps treat heat rash by soothing itchiness. Apply some calamine lotion onto your rash using a cotton pad. Reapply as needed.
Over-the-counter antihistamines — whether topical or oral — can relieve the itching linked to heat rash. If you’re giving an antihistamine to a child, make sure to speak to your paediatrician or pharmacist about which one is best.
Hydrocortisone cream, a type of corticosteroid, may help relieve the symptoms of heat rash. It’s available over the counter at any drugstore and can be applied twice a day to soothe itching.
Home remedies for heat rash
There are various home remedies for heat rash. Some can soothe your skin, while others can reduce inflammation and itching while also preventing the infection.
It’s important not to scratch your rash as it can lead to more irritation and can possibly cause an infection.
Cool baths and showers
Heat rash usually soothes after the skin is cooled down. Bathing in cool water can help with heat rash. Washing skin gently can also unclog the pores as clogged pores can contribute to heat rash.
Make sure you dry your skin properly after taking bath.
Fans and air conditioners
Ventilation is vital to let your rash dry out and stay cool. When possible, stay in an air-conditioned room or use an air fan.
Light, moisture-wicking clothes
As your skin heals itself, it’s important to avoid clothing that irritates your skin or makes more sweating. Light and loose-fitting clothing can help your skin heal without irritating it.
Cotton, while not a moisture-wicking fabric, is a quite breathable fabric that is very comfortable to wear as well.
Ice packs or cold cloths
Cold compresses are great for soothing irritated skin. Face cloths soaked in cold water, or ice wrapped in a cloth, can reduce the irritation and pain linked with heat rash.
Oatmeal is very effective at reducing itching and inflammation. This makes it a very useful home remedy for heat rash and several other skin conditions.
Put 1-2 cups of oatmeal in a lukewarm bath and soak for around 20 minutes. Make sure the water isn’t hot, so you don’t irritate your skin further.
You can also make a paste with 1 part of oatmeal and 1 part of water and apply it to your skin.
Research suggests sandalwood is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, meaning it may help reduce pain.
Mix 2 parts sandalwood powder with 1 part water to make a paste. This paste can reduce the burning and painful sensation. Before applying it to your skin rash, test it on a small patch of unbroken skin. If your skin doesn't react after an hour, you can apply it to the rash without any further issues.
Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate can soothe itchy skin which makes it a good remedy for heat rash and other skin conditions.
Add 3 to 5 tbsp of baking soda to a lukewarm bath and soak for around 20 minutes.
Aloe vera is an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic that can cool down the skin and prevent infections. Use aloe vera gel directly on your heat rash to soothe swelling, pain and get relief from discomfort.
Neem can help to treat various skin rashes. Some research shows it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
You can mix neem powder with water to make a paste and it to the rash, left on for a few minutes, and wash it off. You can also add neem powder to lukewarm water for bathing.
A lukewarm bath with a cup of Epsom salt may relieve itchiness.
If you give Epsom salt bath to a child, make sure they don’t swallow any water. Epsom salt is a laxative when consumed orally. In excess, it can even cause diarrhoea.
When to see a doctor?
While there are various effective home remedies for heat rash, you might need a doctor’s guidance if any issues occur.
You should contact your doctor if a skin rash doesn’t go away within a week of starting the treatment.
You should also consult your professional if a rash seems infected. Symptoms of infected skin include:
- white or yellowish fluid
- increased pain
Take your child to the doctor immediately if they have any of these:
- sore throat
- muscle aches
- any other flu-like symptoms
Since heat rash occurs when your body overheats and sweats, you can prevent heat rashes by staying calm and cool.
To prevent summer skin problems, take the following precautions on hot humid days:
- Stay in air-conditioned, cool areas.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Don’t wear excessive layers of clothing.
- Avoid too much physical exertion.
- Take cool showers or baths.
Parents should ensure that children stay cool, hydrated, and dressed comfortably. Make sure you’re changing your baby’s diaper frequently as wetness can contribute to heat rash.