Who has not experienced heat rash or prickly heat as a child? But did you know that this skin condition, also known as miliaria, can affect anyone at any age? Children are the most commonly susceptible because their sweat glands are not as developed as that of an adult. However, some adults such as those whose sweat glands are overactive, like runners, or those who are overweight are also susceptible.
This skin condition appears on people whose sweat glands are blocked by tiny sweat particles resulting to rashes in some parts of the body which is common during hot, humid weather. Often, this is not dangerous but when rashes appear on the skin, it may not always mean it is miliaria.
Prickly Heat or Heat Rash Indicators
The general indicators seen on an affected person are small red rashes (papules) that appear on different areas like the neck and face or under the breasts. Other areas may also be affected such as the back, stomach, between the legs and on some skin folds.
The type depends on which part of the skin the rash appears.
Folliculitis – is an inflammation on the skin where the rash appears and the hair follicles are blocked by foreign substances.
Miliaria crystalline – this is the rash type that often afflicts babies. They are tiny clear spots that often appear on the upper body, the neck and the head.
Miliaria rubra – itchy red spots caused by blocking in the skin’s inner layer. This prickly heat type is the most common and comes with a prickling feeling that can be uncomfortable especially during the hottest time of the day.
Miliaria profunda – this normally appears on body parts that often rub against clothes that can cause the flesh-colored spots to become more irritating, itchy and uncomfortable.
Causes of Heat Rash
The common cause is blockage on sweat ducts by bacteria like staphylococcus epidermis which can also cause acne and dead skin cells. Hygiene is the best defense against this. However, other reasons could also cause miliaria.
- Long periods in bed due to sickness.
- Wearing too many layers of clothing.
- Exposure to heat and staying too long in the sun.
- Medications that can increase the risk of acquiring skin rashes.
Heat Rash Treatment
Normally, no medical intervention would be required as the rashes subside on its own after a few days. Keeping the skin clean and cool and avoiding exposure to heat alleviates the discomforts associated with prickly heat. However, should the rashes continue and more inflammation is observed or if the blisters pop open, it is wise to see a doctor than self medicate. Some ointments may worsen the rashes as the ointment can block sweat glands further. Other topical preparations like cortisone when used on large areas of the body may be harmful.
To relieve itch, you may use calamine lotion. During hot weather, it is ideal to wear loose cotton clothes. Frequent showering is also advised and avoid the sun as much as you can. Watch the video below for some great tips on dealing with heat rash.