Heat Rashes (Prickly Heat)

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Heat rashes are also called miliaria or prickly heat. Heat rashes do not occur only in babies, but they can occur in adults as well, especially in hot and humid weathers.Heat Rashes (Prickly Heat)

Your sweat glands or pores tend to get blocked when sweat is trapped in your skin. This typically results in heat rash.

Symptoms may include superficial blisters or deep blisters and red bumps on the skin. Heat rash may cause a prickly feeling or can be extremely itchy as well.

Heat rash usually disappears on its own. However, severe forms of rashes may require medical care. The best way you can treat a heat rash is by cooling your skin to reduce sweating.

Signs and symptoms

Rashes usually develop in areas where clothes cause friction and heat or folds of the skin. In babies, rashes typically occur on the chest, around the neck or on the shoulders, however, they may occur on the elbow creases, armpits and groin as well.

When to seek medical attention

Heat rashes go away without any medical treatment. See a health care provider if your baby has symptoms that persist for more than a few days or if rashes appear to be getting worse. See your doctor if you suspect an infection. Signs of infection include:

  • Drainage of pus from affected regions
  • Increases pain, redness, swelling and warmth on affected regions
  • Fever or chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin


Heat rashes occur when sweat glands are blocked. Therefore, instead of evaporating away from the skin, the sweat is trapped underneath the skin, this resulting in a rash.

The reason for why sweat glands get clogged isn’t certain; however, the following may be involved:

  • Immature sweat glands. In infants, the sweat glands have not developed fully. Therefore, they can rupture and trap sweat under the skin. This usually occurs in hot weathers, but can also occur if babies are covered with warm clothes. Newborns kept in incubators or with fever can also have heat rashes
  • Physical activity. strenuous exercise can allow to sweat profusely, thereby, causing a heat rash
  • Tropical climates. These usually comprise of hot and humid weathers that are suitable for the condition to occur
  • Clothing. Tight fitting clothing or fabrics that do not allow evaporation of sweat can cause clogged sweat glands and rashes
  • Medications. Prescriptions drugs may stimulate the sweat glands and cause heat rashes
  • Heavy creams. These can block your sweat glands
  • Overheating. For example, when you sleep under an electric blanket during the winter


Treatment primarily involves methods to reduce sweating for example, by staying in air-conditioned rooms or staying in rooms with fans, wearing loose, light-weight clothing, preferably made of cotton and reducing your amount of physical activity. Once you allow your skin to cool, symptoms begin to resolve on their own.

Mild heat rashes usually do not require any medical treatment.

For more severe forms of heat rashes, topical treatments are recommended such as calamine lotion, anhydrous lanolin and topical steroids, for most serious cases.

You must also make it a habit to allow your skin to air dry after bathing, instead of towel drying. This may reduce the amount of irritation of the skin.

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