Doctor's Notes on Heat Rash
Heat rash is a rash that breaks out when a person is overheated in warm conditions. The cause of heat rash is blockage of the sweat glands within the skin, which means that sweat cannot get to the skin surface to evaporate. Inflammation occurs, which leads to a characteristic skin rash. Blockage of the sweat glands can occur due to heavy or tight clothing, areas of skin that rub against adjacent skin (such as the armpits or groin), heavy creams or lotions, or adhesive bandages.
The typical symptoms of heat rash are a bumpy, red, itchy skin rash, as well as a burning sensation or prickly feeling. Areas of the body commonly exposed to the sun like the hands, face, and neck are common locations for heat rash. Associated symptoms may include bumps on the skin that look like tiny blisters.
What Is the Treatment for Heat Rash?
Heat rash can be treated at home with the following measures:
- Cool the skin by using cooling cloths or taking a cool bath or shower.
- Avoid repeated exposure to the heat source.
- Avoid using lotions, creams, cosmetics, or baby powder in the affected area as they can worsen the situation by clogging the pores.
- Treat itching with a 1% hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion.
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Skin Rashes in ChildrenSkin rashes in children may be categorized as bacterial, viral, life-threatening, fungal, and parasitic rashes. Oftentimes, the associated symptoms help establish the diagnosis. Treatment depends upon the type of rash and the severity of the signs and symptoms.
Sunburn (Sun Poisoning)Sunburn is a burn on the skin caused by UV radiation. Mild sunburn symptoms include skin redness and pain. Severe cases of sunburn (sun poisoning) are complicated by skin burning and blistering, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and possibly infection. A sun rash is caused by a condition referred to as polymorphous light eruption (PMLE). Home remedies for sunburn include over-the-counter pain medicine, aloe vera gels and lotions, and cool tepid baths. Severe sunburn may need medical treatment. Prevention of sunburn include staying out of the sun during the peak hours of the day, wearing sunscreen often and reapply often, and wear protective clothing shielding the exposed body from the sun.
Why Do I Get Heat Rash?Heat rash (also called sweat rash, prickly heat, or miliaria) is a type of heat-related illness that describes red bumps that form when sweat ducts become blocked. Heat rash is more likely to occur in humid weather or tropical climates, being overdressed, intense physical activity that causes excessive sweating, overheating, and underdeveloped sweat ducts.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.