Prickly Heat also known as 'heat rash' or sometimes 'sweat rash' is a condition called malaria rubra that affects the skin mostly in the hot weather. "It occurs when sweat ducts get obstructed, sweat leaks into the skin and the skin gets inflamed around that tiny leakage. A prickly rash appears with red, very itchy little bumps (papules)", says Dr Stefanie Williams, Dermatologist and Director of European Dermatology London.
Prickly heat can develop anywhere on the body but it is most commonly seen on your face, back, neck, thighs and chest. Although prickly heat is not a grave condition, it can be uncomfortable and needs utmost care. The rash is made up of tiny spots that appears like tiny blisters and can cause an intense prickling sensation, a mild swelling and itching.
Factors triggering prickly heat: Even though anyone can develop rashes, you are more at risk of developing during hot or humid weather, where you tend to sweat excessively. The below mentioned factors increases your risk all the more:
- Intense physical activities that causes high levels of sweating
- Wearing clothes made from synthetic fibers that prevent perspiration from evaporating
- Certain medications like those for blood pressure or ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
- Being obese or overweight also leads to excessive sweating
- Babies are highly inclined to prickly heat if they are wrapped up too snugly in blankets or placed in incubators
- Sitting too close to a heater or fire
- Using oil-based cosmetics that leads to clogged sweat glands
- Long periods of time spent in bed can make you sweat more, particularly if you have warm bedding.
How to treat prickly heat? Prickly heat is not a grave condition and requires no specific treatment because the rash normally vanishes after couple of days.
Top 9 natural remedies to relieve your symptoms:
- Keep your skin cool: Take frequent cool showers to ease your skin and cool you down and reduce the sweating and rash. Relaxing in an air-conditioned room for couple of hours will also offer considerable relief. Alternatively you can also use a cold water compress, however don't leave it on the skin for more than 20 minutes. Dr William advises to leave the area open and ventilated as possible.
- Antihistamine tablets: Take antihistamines up to 14 days before you go on for holiday. It is best to check with your doctor first. Start with it as soon as you develop the rash.
- Wear loose clothing: Heat rash is caused when the skin overheats, so make sure your clothes are not too tight and constrictive so that your body can sweat freely. Avoid wearing synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester, which trap heat easier than natural fibers. Wear loose clothing that is breathable.
- Use calamine lotion: Calamine lotion and low-strength hydrocortisone cream is available at most pharmacies, which is effective in curing irritated skin.
- Moisturizing creams: Some people feel that moisturizing creams that contain anhydrous lanolin help to prevent blockage of the sweat ducts. A steroid cream such as hydrocortisone 1% available over the counter may help reduce inflammation and relieve the irritation
- Aloe Vera Gel: Aloe vera gel has powerful antiseptic and anti-bacterial effects that help in alleviating inflammation, redness, preventing infection and easing several types of skin rashes, including those of prickly heat. Apply the gel on the rash or use aloe rich moisturizing lotion.
- Multani miti: Multani miiti or Fuller's earth is a natural home remedy that has long been used for curing prickly heat. Just make a fine paste of 4 tablespoons of multani miti and few drops of rose water and apply the paste on the affected part. Rinse off with cold water after 3 hours.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda works best to treat prickly heat due to its anti-bacterial properties. It helps in preventing infections at the site, while relieving the skin. Prepare a mild solution of baking soda with some cool water and dip a soft washcloth in the solution. Gently rub on the affected portions of the skin.
- Vitamins: A study published in the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology" found that 2 g of vitamin C and 1,000 international units of vitamin E can help prevent damage from sun exposure. Vitamins keep your immune system healthy and help defeat any inflammation caused from excessive sun exposure.
Let your skin enjoy the summer despite the heat, with these above mentioned simple remedies.