How to Treat a Heat Rash

Our sun provides both heat and light to our planet. However, staying out in the sun too long can be harmful to your health. One consequence of too much sun is heat rash.

Heat rash is also known as prickly heat. It occurs when the body has a hard time cooling itself. As a cooling mechanism, the body sweats (releases water) through pores on the skin. Sweat helps the body to maintain a normal internal temperature. If the body cannot cool itself, that becomes the beginning of trouble.

Heat rash occurs when sweat clogs the pores and isn’t released onto the skin. It could be that your body can’t cool itself because of your location or your clothing. Areas of the body that are prone to chafing can be subject to heat rash.

The sweat infiltrates the under layers of the skin and irritates the surrounding tissue. For the sufferer, heat rash resembles red bumps on the skin. They can form blisters and are very itchy. That alone is bad enough but the condition can worsen if not taken care of properly.

One way to treat heat rash is to find ways to let the skin perspire and cool. If you are wearing heavy clothing, shed some of the layers. Choose clothes that allow skin to breathe and therefore sweat correctly.

Get someplace cool. Staying out in the sun is a no-no. Move indoors into an air-conditioned area to dry your skin. Take a cool shower. The water on your skin will cool your body off. Don’t towel dry but let the air do it for you.

People who have to work outside in the heat can be prone to heat rash. When you are outside, cover your skin to protect it from the sun but wear cotton shirts and loose-fitting clothing, especially on areas that chafe. Apply cornstarch powder to minimize this chafing and thus heat rash.

Once you get heat rash, the itch can be unbearable. Scratching, especially with fingernail, damages the surface layer of your skin. Use hydrocortisone cream (1%) or calamine lotion (just like for poison ivy), as directed, to stop the itchy reaction. Resist the urge to come in direct contact with your skin. If the itch returns, reapply the cream.

Small areas of heat rash can be treated with a damp cloth. Applying a cool rag relieves itching and helps skin to cool. Once the skin dries, don’t apply any lotions that could reclog your pores.

Don’t ignore signs of a heat rash. Continuing to work or play in the sun can result in more serious heat illnesses. Stay hydrated while outside and get to a shady or air-conditioned area at least every twenty to thirty minutes to avoid heat rash in the first place.