Symptoms and Signs of Heat Rash

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 9/30/2022

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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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.