Health Topics

Healthy Living

June 2010
9 Ways Out from Prickly Heat
Dr D M Mahajan
When the sweat ducts in our skin get blocked (on areas covered by our clothing), they can swell up to a red or pink pimply rash, known as heat rash or prickly heat. This thorny feeling on the skin will be as discomforting and itchy as we have seen in the TV commercials. Though prickly heat is usually seen in babies and children, adults are also susceptible to it in this hot, humid summer.

  • Heat rashes are seen mainly in areas of friction caused by clothing: particularly, snuggling fitting and poorly ventilated clothing such as jeans and in the areas of skin folds i.e. neck, shoulders, groin etc.
  • Itching or a prickly, mildly stinging sensation in the affected areas, as soon as sweating begins.
  • Frequent bathing with excessive use of soap makes the condition worse.
  • Immunity lowering conditions such as diabetes can lead to complications.
  • In severe cases, it may be accompanied with fever and heat exhaustion.
  • Opportunistic microorganisms may invade the skin rash to make the condition worse – even life-threatening in weakened individuals.
9 Ways Out
Heat rash is the best example where prevention is more effective than the treatment. If adequate preventive measures are observed, heat rash can be easily prevented.
  1. Start by removing or loosening clothing. Avoid wearing heavy abrasive garments that cause friction. Loose, light cloth, preferably cotton or linen is preferred.
  2. Let the skin air-dry instead of using towels.
  3. Try to be in a cool environment as much as possible - switch on those ACs.
  4. Home remedies like cool baths with oatmeal or cornstarch are soothing.
  5. Rubbing small Ice cubes over the rash gives immediate result. 
  6. Apply non–perfumed talcum after bath - this will absorb moisture from the body and protect from prickly heat.
  7. If there is excessive itching, apply anti-itch preparations such as calamine or menthol and/or camphor based preparations.
  8. Appropriate antibiotics and anti-inflammatories will treat the condition.
  9. If the above steps don’t provide relief, or in cases where the rash has developed into open blisters, a doctor should be consulted, since more aggressive, medically monitored treatment may be required.
Dr. D.M. Mahajan Consultant – Dermatologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
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