Heat Rash: The Booby Trap of Summer

Heat Rash: The Booby Trap of Summer

13 November 2023

There’s so much to love about the warm weather this time of the year, but the inevitable heat rash or prickly heat (cue burning, stinging itching – you get the drift) really isn’t one of them.

Summer days are booby-trapped with minor skin miseries. When the sweltering temps roll around this time of the year, our bodies naturally try to keep cool by sweating. But beyond feeling damp and uncomfortable, that sweat can bring on some gnarly side effects.

So, before we get to the good bit, it pays to know what you’re dealing with. Prickly heat rash or miliaria is where the skin comes under attack from intense heat and is unable to cool itself down. This causes stress to the skin and the skin becomes irritated and inflamed.

There are three types of miliaria:

Miliaria crystalline is the mildest form of heat rash and it impacts the sweat ducts in the top layer of the skin. It causes clear fluid-filled blisters and bumps that break easily. It usually shows up on the head, neck, and upper torso.

Miliaria rubra goes deeper into the skin and causes red bumps and itching or prickling in the affected area. Sometimes the red rash is accompanied by pustules. These are common on the torso, between skin folds, or parts of the body where fabric cause chafing, like the thighs. Miliaria rubra is the most common type of heat rash and can affect up to 30% of adults who live in hot, humid regions.

Miliaria profunda is the least common form of heat rash and results when sweat glands get blocked in the dermis, the deepest layer of the skin. With miliaria profunda, sweat leaks out of the sweat gland into the skin, causing skin-colored bumps on the arms, legs, and torso.

How to prevent heat rash? First of all, keep cool and stay out of the heat. A cool bath or shower could also provide short term relief. Avoid thick lotions or creams that’s heavily fragranced. Pro Tip: sit in front of a fan or AC to cool down. Ensure that areas that are more prone to moisture like the armpits and the groin, are dry. Stick to natural, loose and breathable clothing: think linen. Remember to adjust tight devices like wrist bands or fitness trackers that can trap heat and sweat. And, of course, boost your H2O intake to remain hydrated.

In most cases heat rash will go away on its own within a few days if the affected area is kept cool and dry. A topical steroid cream from your local pharmacy could very likely bring tremendous relief.

However, if you develop a fever, chills, or severe pain or blisters, check in with your physician just to be safe.

Source: healthdirect.gov.au, webmd.com, cosmopolitan.com, teenvogue.com, nytimes.com, prevention.com, womenshealthmag.com, elle.com

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

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