How to Beat Heat Rash
Summer’s warm temperatures can lead to something even more uncomfortable—heat rash. Though it’s common in infants, heat rash can affect adults, too, especially during hot, humid weather.
Heat rash develops when your sweat ducts become blocked and perspiration is trapped under your skin. The blocked sweat then tends to seep into the nearby tissue, irritating the skin and causing rashes.
Symptoms can typically include:
- Tiny red bumps surrounded by a zone of red skin.
- Itchy or prickly feeling in the affected area.
- Little or no sweating in the affected areas.
“Babies are prone to the condition because their sweat glands are not fully developed but adults who are overweight, on bed rest or live in a hot, humid climate are particularly susceptible,” says Rob Danoff, DO, an osteopathic family physician in Philadelphia. “Heat rash usually appears when you perspire excessively and it can occur anywhere on your body.”
For children, heat rash typically appears on their neck, shoulders and chest, armpits, elbow creases, or groin; in adults, it usually occurs on clothed parts of the body, such as the back, abdomen, neck, upper chest, groin, or armpits.
When You Should See Your Doctor
Heat rash tends to clear quickly on its own, usually disappearing within a matter of hours or a day once skin is cool. However, if your rash is severe, Dr. Danoff advises scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician or a physician who specializes in skin disorders so they can properly diagnose and treat your symptoms before they worsen.
For severe forms of heat rash, your physician may recommend lotions or creams to sooth itching.
It’s time to make an appointment if you or your child has symptoms that last longer than a few days or observe signs of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, redness or warmth around the affected area.
- Golden yellow crust formation or pus draining from lesions.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit, neck or groin.
- A fever or chills.
“Severe forms of heat rash may require topical therapies, like lotions containing calamine, colloidal oatmeal or cortisone cream to soothe itching,” says Dr. Danoff. “Also, creams containing anhydrous lanolin may help to prevent blockage of the sweat ducts. However, if you are sensitive to wool, please avoid this ingredient.”
Staying Cool and Clear of Heat Rashes
“Keeping your skin cool and dry is the best measure to prevent rashes,” says Dr. Danoff. “Wear loose ‘breathable’ clothes that will allow your sweat to evaporate.”
Other tips to prevent heat rash include:
- Bathe in cool water with a non-drying soap that doesn’t contain fragrances or dyes.
- Stay in the shade or in an air-conditioned building when it’s hot.
- Keep your sleeping area cool and well ventilated.
- Avoid creams or ointments with petroleum, or mineral oil ingredients which can block pores.