What Are Heat Rashes and How to Treat Them

heat rashes on girl's arm

Anybody can get heat rash (also known as miliaria), whether the person is an adult or a child. This condition is more prevalent in hot, humid climates. The mild disorder usually does not require medical intervention. However, treatment for heat rash is sometimes necessary to prevent a more severe complication such as infection.

Here’s what you need to know about miliaria symptoms and treatment options.

What Are Heat Rashes?

Heat rashes are skin conditions that occur when clogged sweat ducts trap sweat under the skin. Factors that may contribute to the blockage of skin pores, causing miliaria, include:

  • Immature sweat ducts - Infants are highly susceptible to heat rash due to their underdeveloped sweat ducts that are much easier to rupture. The ruptured ducts trap perspiration under the skin, which can occur when the infant is less than a week old. Newborns wearing very warm clothes or with a fever are at higher risk for this skin condition.
  • Tropical weather - Hot, humid weather can lead to heat rash development.
  • Intense exercise - Aggressive physical activity, including intense workouts, can cause heat rashes due to heavy sweating.
  • Excess heat - Exposing your body to too much heat, such as extremely warm clothing or an electric blanket, can trigger miliaria.
  • Extended bed rest - Being immobile for too long, especially when you have a fever, may cause or aggravate heat rash.

What Do the Heat Rashes Look Like?

Heat rashes manifest as small red bumps, which may be itchy or uncomfortable. In adults, the pimple-like, fluid-filled bumps appear in skin folds or areas affected by friction from clothing. Infants may experience rashes around body areas like the neck, shoulders, chest, armpits, or groin.

Types of heat rash differ depending on the depth of the sweat duct blockage. Their severity, signs, and symptoms also vary.

How to Treat Heat Rashes

1. Cold Compresses

Apply a cold compress to the affected skin area using an ice pack or a cold piece of cloth to ease the swelling and itching. Always wrap up the ice pack instead of applying it directly to the skin. Each cold compress should last about 10 minutes, with a 10-minutes interval in between the compresses. Repeat this routine as needed.

2. Cool Bath

A cool bath or shower cools the affected skin area and alleviates the itchiness. You may use a gentle exfoliant to unclog the perspiration ducts.

3. Air Conditioning

This remedy helps to cool the indoor air and the body to alleviate heat rash symptoms, especially in any individual on prolonged bed rest. It’s important to regularly move an immobile patient to promote the circulation of cool air to all parts of their body.

Using air conditioning indoors can also protect you when exercising in a hot climate. To minimize sweating when outdoors, choose cooler parts of the day to do any intense workout.

4. Loose Cotton Clothing

When you’re in loose clothing, your body will stay cooler because of the better air circulation. Natural fibers like cotton are highly preferable due to their excellent breathability.

5. Calamine Lotion

Calamine lotion benefits the skin, as it contains zinc oxide. Apply this remedy to ease the itching and incorporate a moisturizer to prevent the skin from drying.

6. Warm Oatmeal Bath

Take a bath in warm oatmeal water to control your skin condition. Oatmeal contains antioxidants that can relieve inflammation and itching on the skin.

7. Antihistamine

Antihistamine tablets like hydroxyzine and diphenhydramine have anti-inflammation and anti-itching properties. These over-the-counter drugs can help relieve heat rash symptoms.

8. Hydrocortisone Cream

You can apply this cream to manage itching and soreness from heat rash. Applying it twice a day can help control the skin condition in children.

9. Baking Soda Bath

This is a promising remedy for skin irritation and promotes detoxification. However, if your symptoms do not improve, consult a doctor.

10. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has strong anti-inflammatory properties and applying the gel on the affected skin area can help alleviate irritation and swelling.

11. Sandalwood

You may mix sandalwood powder with water and apply the paste to the heat rash area. The solution’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects make it a potential heat rashes treatment option. To rule out the possibility of allergic response, first, apply the paste to a healthy area of your skin.

12. Pine Tar

Pine tar can control inflammation on the heat rash skin area. You may use it as a topical remedy for itching, irritation, and other associated skin discomforts.

Heat Rash Symptoms That Require a Medical Care Visit

Mild forms of heat rash can go away with or without these home self-care remedies. However, persistent miliaria can expose you to bacterial infection with inflammation and itchy pustules. You should see a healthcare practitioner right away if you or your child has the following heat rashes symptoms or associated complications:

  • Difficulty in breathing, which indicates a severe allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock. Seek emergency medical help if you experience this.
  • Chronic pain, inflammation, or redness around the affected area.
  • Pus-draining bumps.
  • Lymph node swelling in areas such as the armpit, neck, or groin.
  • High body temperature.
  • Chills.

Generally, any persistent heat rash symptoms in an adult or a child require a healthcare provider’s help. If you’d like to learn more about practical miliaria treatment options, visit our urgent care center in Irvine, urgent care clinic in Fountain Valley, or urgent care center in Costa Mesa. We will give you or your child the right medical assistance based on your unique treatment needs. We are offering both in-person and video visits.

Category: Skin Health


Family Care Centers Medical Group

Family Care Centers Medical Group has provided quality primary care and urgent care services to the residents of Orange County since 1982. Our team of experienced and dedicated healthcare professionals is committed to providing exceptional medical care in a caring and compassionate environment. At our urgent care centers at Irvine, Fountain Valley, and Costa Mesa, we offer immediate attention to minor medical emergencies, including cuts, bruises, scrapes, sprains, strains, broken bones, sore throats, flu, and workplace injuries. Our primary care doctors at Irvine, Fountain Valley, and Costa Mesa centers are ready to take care of all your primary healthcare needs, like the flu shot, physical examination, and treatment for acute or chronic illnesses.

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