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Published on June 10, 2015

Heat Rash 101

June 10, 2015

rash on child' back and enckCommon, itchy and harmless—heat rash can be a pain. Here’s how to spot, treat and prevent this warm weather ailment.

As temperatures rise, so do incidents of heat rash, also known as prickly heat.

Heat rash is caused when sweat gets trapped in the skin by clogged sweat glands or pores. That backup inflames surrounding tissue, causing a pink rash that can be uncomfortable. It may look like a spread of pimples or dots and typically itches or feels like pens and needles.

Don’t Panic

Even though it may feel bad, heat rash is typically harmless. It most commonly occurs in places where sweat tends to accumulate, such as the neck, armpit, chest, elbow creases, groin or area under the breasts. As a result of this sweat accumulation, those areas may become too warm for comfort due to friction or clothing.

To treat heat rash, remove excess layers of clothing and move to a cool, dry spot. Avoid using creams, powders or other topical treatments. They may make clogging worse and trigger prolonged discomfort.

Heat rash often clears up on its own within a few days. If you notice any signs of infection, such as fever, pus or red lines leading away from the rash, see a doctor immediately. The same goes for cases that don’t improve in three to five days or that spread to other parts of the body.

Prevent Repeat Rashes

Get to the bottom of what causes heat rash to prevent repeat cases of this itchy condition. Dress yourself and children in just enough cool, loose-fitting clothing to be comfortable. This will help prevent sweating and the rash. If you do get sweaty, make sure your skin gets a chance to dry thoroughly.

Heat rash can be a sign that you are spending too much time in a hot environment. While a rash is a mild side effect of heat, other issues such as cramps, heat exhaustion and dehydration are very serious.

Limit the amount of time spent in excessively hot temperatures, either outdoors or in the sun. Take frequent breaks in cool, shady environments. Fans, air conditioning and the occasional cool bath or shower can help.

If you live in a hot, humid place, heat rash may be hard to prevent all the time. Do your best to stay cool and dry, and see a doctor if a basic rash turns into something more serious.

Convenient Care at KishHealth System Physician Group, DeKalb is open Monday - Friday 7 am - 7 pm and Saturday 8 am - 4 pm.

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