Heat rash: How to treat prickly heat

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  • Ever get an itchy, red rash when you're hot? That's heat rash, also known as prickly heat.

    But if you’re wondering what causes heat rash and how you can treat it if you get it, you’ve come to the right place.

    Along with struggling to get to sleep, heat rash is something many people – from kids to adults – suffer with every year, as soon as the weather turns warmer. There’s a whole range of things that encourage heat rash, like tight clothes or bedding, hot showers or dehydration and it can happen to anyone.

    While it’s not life threatening or even dangerous, it’s very uncomfortable and itchy. Here’s how to tell if you’ve got prickly heat and how to get rid of it…

    What is prickly heat or heat rash?

    Also known as heat rash, prickly heat is a very itchy rash that usually only happens when the weather gets hot and humid. It often occurs when you sweat more than usual.

    What are the symptoms of heat rash?

    Prickly heat forms a rash on your skin made up of tiny spots or bumps and it’s usually red.

    The rash often looks like a lot of small blisters and might also cause a little swelling, itching and stinging.

    However, it’s important to be aware in children that rashes can also indicate other harmful illnesses. So be sure to have a look at the NHS’ guide on rashes in babies and children if you’re unsure.

    Where do I get prickly heat?

    heat rash

    Credit: Getty

    Prickly heat can affect any part of your body, but normally flares up underneath clothing because friction makes it worse as you sweat more.

    To prevent this, the NHS suggests wearing lose fitting, cotton clothing during the hot weather, having lightweight bedsheets, taking cool baths and showers and drinking plenty of water to rehydrate yourself.

    Who is affected by prickly heat?

    Both adults and children can get a heat rash, although kids do tend to be more likely to suffer from prickly heat because their sweat glands are as well developed.

    READ MORE: 8 ingenious ways to beat the heat and cool down

    What causes prickly heat?

    Prickly heat happens when sweat glands become blocked. This often occurs in hot countries, or when there’s a sudden change in temperature, because you sweat more than normal.

    The more you sweat, the more likely it is that dead skin will collect in your sweat glands and block them.

    Other body lotions and waterproof suncreams can also contribute to heat rash, as they interrupt the way your body naturally deals with sweat by clinging to your skin.

    How do you treat prickly heat?

    There’s no specific treatment for prickly heat and it’s not a serious condition because most heat rashes disappear very quickly – usually within a couple of days.

    • You can apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream, depending on how itchy and irritated your skin is. This will ease the soreness and cool your skin down.
    • Try to avoid synthetic clothing like polyester and go for cotton instead. Cotton allows heat to escape and not get trapped under the clothing.
    • Aloe vera gel may help to cure the itchiness.
    • Stay out of the heat and get into the shade.
    • Have a shower and cool the skin down.
    • Avoid (where possible) getting sweaty – this will just irritate the skin further.

    Although prickly heat is uncomfortable, it’s in no way dangerous to your health. Simply by following the above guidance or visiting a pharmacist, you’ll have a heat rash cleared up in no time.