The summer sun is out in full force, and while we caution you against the harmful effects of UV rays there is another culprit this time of year… heat rash. Severe outbreaks can look scary and cause intense itching, as well as a prickly sensation on the skin. However, very rarely do these annoying rashes need medical attention, and, no matter how frightening they look, they are rather common and simple in nature if you know what you are dealing with.
Many patients assume heat rash comes from sunburn, but this is not the case. A heat rash occurs when your sweat glands become clogged, thus not allowing the moisture to dry from your skin and causing a blister like rash. There are times when prolonged exposure to the sun causes both heat rash and sunburn, but the two are not interconnected.
Creases in the skin like the neck, armpit, or groin have skin touching adjacent skin, which makes it difficult for air to circulate- in result these areas more prone to the rash. While this is commonly seen in hot, humid areas there is no known remedy to prevent your glands from clogging; but we do offer the following tips:
– Avoid tight clothing that prevents sweat evaporation
– Avoid heavy creams or lotions when sweating may be involved (ie: before a run)
– When exercising wear moisture wicking/dri-fit clothing, and change out of your workout clothes promptly
– Shower soon after excessive sweating in luke-warm or cool water
– Keep hydrated
– Make sure skin stays dry and doesn’t sit moist or sweaty
The rash itself can vary in appearance from person to person, depending on health, routines, etc. The location of the rash can also affect the appearance. Ranging from tiny ‘sweat bubbles’ with no other symptoms to larger, harder, bumps deeper in the skin which involve itching and a prickly sensation. Rarely, reoccurring and severe heat rash may be potentially dangerous if enough skin is involved, since the lack of sweating can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion.
Heat rash often resolves on its own when the skin cools and air circulates to affected skin. If the prickly sensation persists, calamine lotion or hydrocortisone creams may be helpful.
Note for New Moms: Babies have immature sweat glands that aren’t able to remove the sweat they produce. They can develop heat rash if they are exposed to warm weather, are overdressed, excessively bundled, or have a fever.