Prickly heat or miliaria rubra is an irritated rash of small-sized, elevated reddened spots that results to a stinging sensation on the skin. It can develop on any part of the body, but usually manifest on the face, back, neck, chest or thigh in a few days after being exposed to warm temperatures.
The rash is characterized as small-sized spots or bumps that are surrounding by an area of reddened skin. These spots are similar to miniature blisters and can cause itchiness, minor swelling and a stinging or strong prickle-like sensation.
Possible causes of prickly heat
Prickly heat typically develops if an individual sweat more than usual such as during humid or warm weather. Nevertheless, it is also possible to develop prickly heat in the winter.
The condition develops if the sweat glands are clogged. Extensive sweating can cause the sweat to be trapped below the skin. The trapped sweat trigger skin irritation and the characteristics of heat rash.
The symptoms of prickly heat become worse in areas that are covered with clothing. Remember that clothing can cause sweating and oftentimes friction.
Prickly heat is not a serious issue and rarely necessitates any specific form of treatment. The rash typically settles after a few days. Nevertheless, there are several measures that can be done to help ease the symptoms.
- Avoid exposure to excessive humidity and heat – if it is required to go outdoors, spend time in a shaded area or bring a small fan. Prolonged exposure to the heat will cause more sweating that can worsen the rash. Increase the intake of fluids to avoid dehydration especially during warm weather.
- Keep the skin cool – a cool shower or bath can help cool down the body, soothe the skin and prevent further sweating. It is best to stay in an air-conditioned area for a few hours a day for relief. A cold compress can also be used but do not leave it on the skin longer than 20 minutes.
- Use loose clothing made out of clothing – do not wear clothing made of synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester that traps heat readily than the natural fibers.
- Use calamine lotion – this can be used to soothe sore and irritated skin
- Apply hydrocortisone cream – a low-strength variant is available over-the-counter and effective in managing itchy and irritated areas of skin.
- Antihistamines – oral tablets are utilized to managed the itchiness but a doctor should be consulted first.