Heat rash, prickly heat or miliaria is a common skin condition affecting people of all ages and especially young kids, babies and newborns. The most important concern in the minds of parents having newborns with a heat rash is: Can heat rash spread? What will happen if the baby scratches the rash- would it spread to other healthy parts of its body?
In this guide, we will study what heat rash is and whether it spreads upon being scratched (or even from other circumstances like swimming etc).
Heat rash in babies: Signs and Symptoms
Heat rash occurs as a result of plugged or clogged sweat pores. It is especially common in hot and humid months- though swaddling a baby too tight in sweaters, comforters or blankets etc can also lead to heat rash. The signs include:
- Small red bumps and blisters on the face, neck, elbows, chest, behind the knees etc
- The rash might appear suddenly and also disappears just as suddenly.
- Heat rash is usually a result of being too warm or being overdressed.
- Many infants also develop heat rashes following high fever.
Heat rashes are often itchy and scratching the rashes could lead to secondary skin infections.
Does heat rash spread from person to person? Can I swim if I have heat rash?
Heat rashes are not contagious. So they will not spread from person to person upon contact. You can definitely swim if you have heat rash but in case you have oozing blisters or secondary skin infection from scratching the rashes, you might want to avoid chlorinated swimming pools. This is because; the added chemicals could lead to more inflammation or burning of the already sore skin.
Heat rashes do not spread on contact, but it is best to avoid spending time in the sun in an open pool. Sunlight could cause the rash to aggravate and increase the burning pain and itchiness associated with the rash.
Will the heat rash spread if the baby scratches it?
It is best to prevent the baby from scratching its heat rash. This is especially necessary if the baby has sharp nails, as the bacteria trapped beneath them can cause secondary or harder-to-treat skin infections. To stop the heat rash from itching, apply 1% hydrocortisone creams on the rash. This will soothe the skin and prevent itchiness and pain. You can also trim the baby nails and if needed, cover its hands with mittens to prevent it from scratching the rash.
How to prevent heat rash from spreading?
To prevent heat rashes from worsening, keep the baby as cool as possible. If needed, let it go without clothing or diapers. Bathe the baby in tepid water to which some soothing colloidal oatmeal has been added.
Do not use soap on the baby’s inflamed skin.
You can soak the baby in a tub of warm water having ¼ cup baking soda added to it. Pat the baby dry and sprinkle it with soothing baby powder, or prickly heat powder. Do not apply heavy oils, creams or lotions as these can further clog the sweat pores. Do not over dress the baby. Maintain comfortable temperature in the baby’s room.
Heat rashes normally do not spread. If you find your (or your baby’s) rash getting worse and spreading to other body parts, make sure to see the healthcare provider immediately. In some cases, it might not be a heat rash but a more serious underlying health condition. You can definitely swim when having a heat rash but do ensure that you swim indoors or in a shaded area where there is minimal sun exposure. It is also best to avoid strongly chlorinated pools which could worsen the inflammation of the heat rash. Check the resources provided on this website to help you treat and heal heat rashes quickly.