Heat rash, also known as miliaria and prickly heat, is a medical condition in which blocked sweat ducts cause perspiration to become trapped beneath the skin, resulting in a rash that is raised, red, and often itchy. It most often affects infants and those living in hot climates, and can lead to infection or heat exhaustion if it continues for long periods. Luckily, treating heat rash is a fairly straightforward process. The most common types of heat rash treatment include keeping the skin cool and, in severe cases, using topical medications. Many people find that prevention can be the most effective heat rash treatment.
In mild to moderate cases, the skin irritation caused by heat rash usually requires no specific treatment. Instead, the best heat rash treatment often involves simply reducing sweating by keeping the skin cool. Once the heat exposure responsible for the heat rash has been eliminated, the rash will usually fade and disappear within approximately one week.
There are several steps that can be taken to keep the skin cool. First of all, spending as much time as possible in cool, indoor spaces during hot weather is usually quite helpful. Secondly, wearing loose-fitting clothing made from breathable fabrics such as cotton can help regulate the body temperature and promote the evaporation of perspiration. Additionally, those with heat rash should avoid activities which cause excessive sweating until their rash has cleared up.
If a case of heat rash is very itchy or painful or does not show signs of clearing up after several days, it may require medical attention to reduce the risk of bacterial infection or heat stroke. A physician may prescribe an anti-inflammatory topical medication, such as a corticosteroid lotion. Applying this medication to the affected area as directed may reduce the discomfort and inflammation frequently associated with severe cases of heat rash.
Finally, many people find that prevention is the most effective heat rash treatment. Reducing perspiration is generally the best way to prevent flare-ups of this rash. Thus, many find it helpful to use air conditioning or fans during very hot weather, especially as they sleep. Bathing or showering in cool water can also help limit perspiration, as can avoiding tightly fitting clothes. Finally, many physicians discourage the use of thick creams and ointments on the skin during hot weather, as they can promote blockage of the sweat glands.