Heat Rash or Prickly Heat

Heat Rash or Prickly Heat- This is a common medical condition caused as a result of overexposure to heat. It is usually common in infants but it can also affect adults, particularly in the summer season, especially in states which are extremely hot during summers. Heat Rash or Prickly Heat results in development of blisters in the body which can be extremely itchy. It is a self limiting condition and usually goes away on its own.

Heat Rash or Prickly Heat

What Is Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat?

Heat Rash or Prickly Heat also known by the name of Miliaria is a medical condition that usually develops in the summer season. This condition is usually seen in infants but can also affect adults. Heat Rash or Prickly Heat causes blisters to develop in the body due to heat. These blisters develop when the sweat ducts or the pores that are present throughout our body become blocked and the sweat formed due to heat is not able to come out of the body. There can be development of small blisters or even formation of lumps due to this condition. These rashes or lumps at times become extremely itchy and discomforting to the infant as well as to the adult. Heat Rash or Prickly Heat is a self limiting medical condition and usually resolves on its own when the temperatures go down but severe types of Heat Rash or Prickly Heat may need medical care but the best way to treat them is to either stay in a cool area or apply cool creams to keep the body cool in the summers.

What Are The Causes Of Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat?

As stated, Heat Rash or Prickly Heat is caused as a result of the sweat ducts or the pores present in the body being blocked thus preventing the sweat to evaporate from the body and resulting in the body getting overheated and resulting in development of Heat Rash or Prickly Heat. Mentioned below are certain factors which cause blocking of the sweat ducts.

What Are The Causes Of Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat?

  • Underdeveloped Ducts: This is usually common among infants as their body is still in the development phase and the ducts are still in the process of developing and causes blocking of ducts. This usually is found in infants who are overly dressed even in summers or have high fever.
  • Climatic Factors: Climatic conditions play an important role in development of Heat Rash or Prickly Heat. The more hot and humid the weather is the more are the chances of developing Heat Rash or Prickly Heat.
  • Physical Activity: If an individual is involved in rigorous physical activity out in the heat then that individual has more chances of developing Heat Rash or Prickly Heat.
  • Improper Clothing: Clothes that are worn by people during summers also play a part in development of Heat Rash or Prickly Heat. If an individual is overdressed such that perspiration is not able to evaporate from the body then that individual is more susceptible to develop Heat Rash or Prickly Heat.
  • Medications: Certain medications like Catapres, beta blockers, and opioid medications also can cause Heat Rash or Prickly Heat.

Who Is At Risk For Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat?

As stated, factors which make an individual predisposed to Heat Rash or Prickly Heat are:

  • Age: Heat Rash or Prickly Heat is mostly in infants, although anyone can be affected by it.
  • Climatic Condition: People who live in tropical climatic conditions are more prone to get Heat Rash or Prickly Heat.
  • Physical Activity: Any rigorous activity done in extreme heat can cause Heat Rash or Prickly Heat.

What Are Some Of The Symptoms Of Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat?

The symptoms of Heat Rash or Prickly Heat are different in cases of adults and in infants. While in the case of infants, the rash is mostly found in the neck region, back, shoulders, and chest. Adults get it mostly in areas which are covered by tight clothing. There are basically three types of Heat Rash or Prickly Heat which is also known by the name of Miliaria:

Miliaria Crystallina: This is the mildest form of Heat Rash or Prickly Heat. It affects the topmost layer of the skin. In this condition, there is development of clear fluid filled blisters in the body which tend to break easily. They are nonpainful and resolve on their own but they have a tendency to recur if the weather conditions do not improve from the hot and humid conditions.

Miliaria Rubra: This type of Heat Rash or Prickly Heat tends to occur deep in the epidermis. Some of the symptoms of this type of Heat Rash or Prickly Heat are:

  • Red colored bumps in the skin
  • Itchy feeling in the affected areas
  • Lack of sweating from the affected areas

Miliaria Profunda: This form of Heat Rash or Prickly Heat is pretty rare and is found usually in adults who have had recurrent Miliaria Rubra. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Flesh-colored bumps resembling goose bumps.
  • Total loss of sweat leading to other symptoms like dizziness, nausea etc...

How Is Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat Diagnosed?

Heat Rash or Prickly Heat is diagnosed just by visual inspection and no further studies are warranted in this regard.

What Are Treatments For Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat?

The best way to treat Heat Rash or Prickly Heat is by staying in cool places and not venturing out in the heat. The best way to do this is to stay indoors preferably in an air conditioned area. Apart from this, wearing light clothing is also recommended so that the skin remains cool and sweat duct do not get blocked.

The severe type of Heat Rash or Prickly Heat can be treated with topical creams like Calamine Lotion to calm down the itching sensation or anhydrous lanolin which helps in preventing blockage of the ducts.

What Are The Home Remedies For Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat?

Some Of The Home Remedies For Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat Are:

  • To wear loose light colored clothing in summers so that heat is reflected and not absorbed.
  • Try and stay in air conditioned places and not venture out in the heat of the sun.
  • After taking a bath, let the moisture dry off the skin by itself rather than drying oneself with a towel.
  • Calamine Lotion is beneficial for calming down itchy sensations.

How Can Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat Be Prevented?

To Prevent Heat Rash Or Prickly Heat From Occurring One Can Try The Following:

  • Dress in dry comfortable clothing in summers.
  • Staying indoors in the summers as much as possible.
  • Keeping the living area appropriately ventilated.
  • Take a bath in cool water.
  • Avoid alcohol usage.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 2, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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