Prickly heat is a nuisance in every summer and it comes in the way of play, work and exercise. In extreme cases, coupled with dehydration, it leads to high fever, chills, momentary loss of memory, and fatigue. Using creams and SPF does not protect your skin from prickly heat. Apart from wearing comfortable cotton clothes, cool showers, and staying in the shade, the most effective remedy is prickly heat powder. Sometimes, antihistamines are used to reduce and prevent swelling caused by the prickly heat rash.
Antihistamine for prickly heat
Antihistamines are used to prevent as well as contain prickly heat rash. There are two different types of antihistamines available and most brands are available to procure over the counter.
These antihistamines prevent and cure allergies and allergy like symptoms viz., prickly heat rash, but make the patient drowsy. When you take antihistamines for prickly heat rash, they are not much help if you live in hot areas and drowsiness prevents your day-to-day activities. If you are out on a holiday, sedating antihistamines might mar the fun and frolic. Some popular brands of sedating antihistamines include Brompheniramine or Chlorpheniramine or Cetrizine.
Non – sedating antihistamines
Non – sedating antihistamines on the other hand do not cause drowsiness but are effective against swelling and pain. There are several makers of non – sedating antihistamines. Some examples are Clarityn, Piriteze, and Zirtec.
Why antihistamines work for prickly heat?
Prickly heat is not basically an allergic reaction but antihistamines are a proven way to contain and prevent prickly heat rashes. Once sweat leaks into the skin surrounding the sweat gland, body releases histamine to prevent damage to the tissues. An antihistamine works by countering the effects of histamine and preventing swelling and irritation. A Hydrocortisone cream along with an oral or topical antihistamine is an effective remedy for heat rash or sunburn.
Several antihistamines occur naturally in the food we eat. Intake of food containing natural antihistamines not only helps prevent heat rash but also reduces the susceptibility of the patient to some mild allergies. Some aromatic herbs and spices are also rich in natural antihistamines.
1) Food rich in omega 3 fatty acids
Food such as salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts are rich in essential fatty acids or omega 3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids contain inflammation and act as natural antihistamines. They are not only good for the heart but also reduce the risk of major allergies. They also control inflammation and pain and are hence useful against prickly heat rash. People who consume right amounts of food rich in essential fatty acids and get regular exercise are not only healthy but are also less prone to heat rashes.
2) Naturally colored food
The color of fruits and vegetables depends on the chemical properties of the nutrients present in those food groups. Quercetin is a flavonoid that is both a natural antihistamine and also helps control other substances that cause allergies. Citrus fruits, onions, garlic, apples, tea, legumes, berries and red wine are rich in quercetin and taken in correctly moderated amounts prevent allergies and of course prickly heat rash.
3) Vitamin C rich food
Some people take chewable vitamin C tablets throughout summer. While vitamin C is not known to actually cure any of the conditions like cold, allergy and prickly heat, it certainly improves the immune system and prevents the incidence of the said conditions. Consume food rich in vitamin C like citrus fruits, green peppers, guavas, blackcurrants and berries, Brussels sprouts, onions, beans, squash, tomatoes, rhubarb, kohlrabi and potatoes to naturally build immunity and prevent heat rashes. Pineapples along with vitamin C also contain a compound called bromelain that is effective against allergies. Consume pineapples and all summer fruits when in season to prevent heat rashes.
4) Herbs rich in natural antihistamines
Several herbs and spices are also rich in natural antihistamines. However, they must always be used or consumed in moderation. It is better to consult your physician before starting to make teas and drinks with said herbs since some of these herbs also can trigger allergic reactions in people. Some examples of herbs and spices that help alleviate symptoms of prickly heat rash are Evening Primrose, Nettles, Parsley, Ginger, Chamomile, Saffron, Anise, Fennel, Caraway, Cardamom, Jewelweed, and Basil. Nettles is a herb known to have a diuretic effect and other items like Ginger, Caraway and Cardamom are known for anti – colic properties. However, always consult a physician before consuming any herbal preparations or soaking in a bath infused with herbs.
Antihistamines for prickly heat are only a part of the prevention strategy for these rashes. Loose fitting cotton clothes, healthy diet, exercise and protecting from direct sun exposure are some of the important factors that determine the occurrence and severity of prickly heat.