Treating Heat Rashes at Home

by Sam Malone

Heat rashes or prickly heat as it is commonly known as is one of the most common heat related problem experienced in hot tropical climates. The general belief is that heat rashes are caused due to excessive sweating, while in truth this is not the case. Most cases of normal heat rashes occur due to a blockage in the sweat glands. When any activity that induces sweat is performed, the blockage prevents the sweat from exiting through the pores, and the pressure ultimately results in the sweat leaking into the tissue surrounding the pore. This results in a local inflammation, resulting in the typical red rash as well as the prickly sensation that comes along with a heat rash. The blockage can be caused either due to an accumulation of dead skin cells or due to bacterial infection. In very small children, heat rashes may occur as a result of undeveloped sweat glands.

Heat rashes are not very dangerous, and although they cause a lot of discomfort, they do not cause any long term damage or scarring. In very rare cases, when the blockage is deep within the sweat gland, the sweat may escape into the tissue layer under the skin, causing a severe reaction, which will need medical intervention. Most cases of prickly heat, however, are the normal ones and are not a cause for worry.

The only problem with heat rashes is that if an infection sets in, it may be difficult to eliminate the infection entirely. This will result in frequent bouts of rashes which are very discomforting.

Heat Rashes in Summer: Heat rashes invariably occur in summer in most parts of the tropical world. Generally, this does not require any medical intervention and treatment is in the form of home remedies. They include:

  • Frequent baths with a mild soap are also recommended. This will ensure that the stale sweat is washed off, reducing the chance of an infection. Also, particles that can clog sweat glands will be washed off, preventing future occurrences.
  • Application of any antibacterial or antiviral agent is not recommended. In fact, even moisturizing cream is discouraged, and it is recommended that the area is kept dry at all times. Since the rash is caused by sweat leaking under the skin, preventing sweat will immediately reverse the symptoms.
  • Talcum powder can be applied to the affected area. Not only does this keep the area dry but many powders provide a soothing feeling that eliminates the itching.
  • Tropical countries have specialized anti-itch powders that contain calamine, menthol or even camphor-based preparations that provide relief from prickly heat.
  • Other powders contain a mixture of labilin, which is a drying milk protein, and triclosan, which helps fight the infection. It also ensures that the bacteria do not spread via bed linen and clothes by dusting anything that comes in contact with the affected portion.
  • Wearing loose fitting and light clothes made of a material that helps the skin to breathe (such as cotton) helps.
  • Oil-based creams and sometimes even water-based ones are not recommended as they tend to increase the heat on the applied area, worsening the symptoms.
It may not always be possible to live in an air-conditioned environment, especially during summer. Make sure that you drink a lot of water to promote sweating. The sweating itself will keep the pores open, preventing a blockage, and as long as you wash it off, there is very small likelihood of an infection.

References

  1. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Heat_stress_and_heat-related_illness
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/
  3. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001966.htm
  4. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/heatillness.html

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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