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What is heat rash?

Heat rash, more commonly known as prickly heat, is a skin condition marked by itchy skin and the appearance of red spots on different areas of the body. A heat rash typically occurs during the hotter months of the year when the body sweats more than usual and is generally quite discomforting.

What are its signs and symptoms?

The main signs and symptoms of a heat rash are visible on the skin and are easy to identify.

These symptoms include:

  • Appearance of red spots on the skin
  • Formation of superficial blisters
  • Intense itching of the skin
  • Discomfort when the clothing rubs against the skin
  • Rough and textured skin

These symptoms typically occur in areas like the neck, shoulders, chest and back. In some cases, heat rashes may develop in the folds of the elbows and groin as well.

What are its main causes?

When the body is exposed to heat, it sweats more. Heat rash occurs when the sweat ducts get blocked due to excessive heat and humidity. As a result of this blockage, the skin becomes inflamed, leading to itching and redness.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

Heat rashes are common and do not usually result in complications. The symptoms may last for up to a few days or a few weeks, and generally, clear up without treatment. However, since the condition can be quite uncomfortable, the doctor may suggest some measures to prevent it and soothe the skin as well.

Preventive measures are:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes in order to let the skin breathe
  • Stay in a cool, dry environment
  • Take a shower after a physical workout
  • Wear soft clothes to prevent skin irritation

Home remedies such as applying cold aloe vera gel and washing the area with cold water can greatly help relieve the itching.

In case the sweat ducts become infected, further treatment may be needed.

  1. Medicines for Heat Rash

References

  1. Healthdirect Australia. Heat rash. Australian government: Department of Health
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Heat Stress - Heat Related Illness
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Babies and heat rashes
  4. MedlinePlus Medical: US National Library of Medicine; Infant heat rash
  5. Healthdirect Australia. Heat rash treatments. Australian government: Department of Health. [internet].
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