Heat rash is the generic group name for a number of skin problems that arise or worsen because of heat exposure or overheating. Common names for heat rash include prickly heat or miliaria. Other heat rashes include heat urticaria (hives) and sweat retention. Heat rash is prevalent in the summer months and particularly in humid climates. The condition usually is self-limited and resolves in hours to a few days without treatment. Rarely, it may be more severe requiring professional
Self-Care at Home
Most heat rash resolves without treatment, often within a day after changing to a cooler environment. The following self-care steps and remedies may help with heat rash.
First step: The first step in treating heat rash is to wash the affected area with a gentle soap (for example, Dove non-soap cleanser or something similar).
Second step: Rinse the area with water and gently pat dry with a towel. Washing several times a day and especially after exercise, prolonged walking, or heat exposure is recommended.
- Remain in a cool environment and allow for adequate ventilation of the skin.
- Take cool showers or baths
- Rest in an air-conditioned room at 70-72 F (21-22 C) is therapeutic. If no air conditioning is available at home, safe retreats include indoor shopping malls, grocery stores, movie theaters, hotel lobbies, ice skating rinks, bowling alleys, etc.
- Avoid skin-to-skin contact by placing a clean cotton washcloth or material between skin folds like under the breasts or abdomen.
- Apply direct applications of packs of frozen peas or cool packs over the affected areas (do not leave packs on longer than 20 minutes per hour).
- Mild cortisone creams like hydrocortisone (Cortaid) or prescription cortisone creams like triamcinolone may be helpful for resistant rashes or resulting eczema.
- Oral or topical antibiotics may be prescribed as needed for bacterial infections.
- Oral antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratadine (Claritin), can help decrease itching.
Clothing and Heat Rash
Getting naked may keep the body cooler but it does not avoid the problem of sweat buildup especially under the breasts, abdomen fold, between buttock folds, and places where skin overhangs. It may be best to wear light, cotton, absorbent fabrics that separate out skin fold areas. Individuals who do not wear underwear usually notice more retained sweat and therefore more irritation in areas between the buttocks and groin. Short sleeves tops and shorts are often helpful.
- Drinking water is always helpful for overall hydration and body temperature regulation.
- Water can help maintain cooler body temperatures.
- Dehydration may lead to weakness and generalized malaise.