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Having home remedies for heat rash is just as important as having ways to bring down sunburn, especially as the weather heats up across the country.
Whereas sunburn remedies (opens in new tab) are based around moisturising, heat rash (otherwise known as prickly heat) needs anti-inflammatory products as it's an allergic reaction to hot temperatures. "The main symptom is an itchy rash formed of small, raised red spots that cause a prickling sensation on the skin," LloydsPharmacy (opens in new tab) pharmacist Anshu Kaura says.
"Prickly heat is caused by hot or humid weather, as it develops when a person sweats more than usual. As the body’s sweat glands become blocked, trapped sweat causes skin irritation and stinging along with a heat rash. It can develop anywhere on the body but is more often found on the neck, chest and back."
The most common symptoms, which include small red bumps, an itchy, prickly sensation, as well as redness and mild swelling, are not dangerous - but they can be very uncomfortable.
Heat rash remedies
1. Apply an ice compress or cold damp cloth over the rash
This is one of the most basic home remedies for heat rash. As Anshu says, "You can naturally calm the prickly heat rash by applying a cold flannel to the rash for no more than 20 minutes and patting the rash, instead of scratching it."
Scratching or rubbing heat rash will only work to further irritate the rash and if the skin breaks, the rash could become infected and require further medical treatment. For similar reasons, pharmacist Anshu says to "avoid using fragranced products" on the prickly heat rash as it may aggravate the condition.
2. Soothe the skin with Aloe vera gel
Aloe vera gel is a famous cure for sunburn but it also works for prickly heat. Either in a paste from a pharmacy or directly from the plant, Aloe vera will cool the rash as it contains anti-inflammatory properties and does not clog the pores on your already-irritated skin.
Herbalist Elsie Ijorogu Reed at Halima Yard Remedies (opens in new tab) also recommends "a mixture of Sandalwood powder and water" to relieve the itching. Sandalwood has been proven (opens in new tab) to contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as antimicrobial properties, so the essential oil should work to both calm the angry, red itch and also to prevent it from becoming infected down the line.
Typically hay fever remedy (opens in new tab) and ideal for animal allergies, antihistamines are also perfect for easing the discomfort of a prickly heat rash.
However as Anshu warns, "Some people find antihistamines can help with prickly heat; however some options are not always suitable for everyone. Speak to your pharmacist about which antihistamine tablets might be right for you."
4. Cool your whole body down
Both our experts say overheating is a sure-fire way to make heat rash worse so if you feel one coming on, find a way to cool down quickly (opens in new tab).
One of the quickest ways to do this is to take an ice cube from the freezer and press it to areas of your body where the veins are closest to the surface. This includes your temples, wrists and chest. Once the cold hits these areas, it hits your blood stream and you should almost immediately begin to feel cooler.
"More time spent in front of a fan or under an air conditioner is extremely beneficial," adds Elsie.
5. Wear loose-fitting clothing
Wearing loose-fitting clothing is one of the best remedies for heat rash as it will help to keep the rash - and your whole body - cool while the area goes through its natural healing process.
But importantly, stay away from materials which trap in heat to the body - like silk, polyester and satin. Instead, go for ventilation via natural sweat-wicking materials such as cotton, which has been proven (opens in new tab) to increase airflow to the body - and even help people sleep better in warmer months. Opt for cotton, Egyptian or normal, bedsheets where possible as well so that you don't further irritate the rash when you go to bed at night.
One of the best uses of Sudocrem (opens in new tab) is to treat prickly heat rash. This bathroom cabinet essential is made up of three key ingredients that make it perfect for dealing with this type of rash: zinc oxide, benzyl alcohol and lanolin. The first ingredients works to calm down the rash and help it to heal naturally, while the benzyl alcohol will ease discomfort, and lanolin has been proven (opens in new tab) to prevent the body losing water through burns and rashes, which bring liquid to the surface of the skin.
While a heavy moisturiser works in a similar way to prevent water loss, Sudocrem is especially good for severe prickly heat rashes as works to target pain and help the whole area to heal.
7. Colloidal oats
An oat bath is an effective way (opens in new tab) to reduce the itching and inflammation that comes with heat rash, making it the perfect home remedy for prickly heat and other skin conditions like sunburn.
The best way to run yourself an oat bath is to put about 130 - 260g of oats into lukewarm bath water and soak in them for about 20 minutes. Make sure that the water isn't too hot, especially if you're running the bath for someone else, as this could further irritate your skin.
Otherwise, make a paste with half oats and half water and apply it to your rash and the area around it.
Collodial oatmeal is particularly good for this. It can be bought from most natural food shops or you can make it yourself by grinding oat grain, otherwise known as avena sativa, into a fine powder. This has been proven (opens in new tab) to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help your skin along the natural healing process.
8. Keep topped up on your SPF
If you're planning to spend more time in the sunshine, your heat rash needs to stay covered in suncream - but the right kind. SPF that's too heavy will block the pores of your skin and make your heat rash worse, so always opt for the better suncreams (opens in new tab) when buying.
The perfect suncream for heat rash is lightweight, and ideally, anti-allergy. If in doubt, go for Solero's anti-allergy suncream (opens in new tab), which has been especially designed for people with skin allergies.
How long does it take for heat rash to disappear?
Heat rash will likely go away after about 24 hours, according to one study (opens in new tab) on the condition.
While these home remedies for heat rash won't immediately cure prickly heat, they'll work to help the rash heal naturally on its own and ease your discomfort.