Heat Rashes - Health Center

Heat Rashes

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Heat Rashes – Basic Overview

Heat Rashes, which are also known as Prickly Heat or Miliaria is not a condition which just affects babies. It effects adults equally especially during hot and humid weather.

Heat Rashes develop when the sweat ducts or the sweat pores in the skin become blocked and the perspiration becomes trapped underneath the skin. The symptoms of Heat Rashes can range from superficial blisters to the ones which form deep, red lumps. Heat Rashes can also cause intense itchiness or a burning sensation around the affected region.

Heat Rashes tend to go on their own. However, certain kinds of rashes may need proper medical care or treatment. 

Causes of Heat Rashes:

Heat Rashes develop when the sweat pores present on the skin become blocked and the perspiration becomes clogged underneath the skin. Due to this trapping of the perspiration, inflammation and rashes occur all over the skin. Certain factors play a major role in blocking of the sweat ducts. They are as follows:

  1. Immature Sweat Ducts: In babies, the sweat pores are not fully developed which leads them to rupture very easily, causing the sweat to be trapped underneath the skin. When infants are dressed very warmly, this can occur. Newborns suffering from high fever can also develop blockage in the sweat ducts.
  2. Tropical weather: Hot and humid weather is the perfect reason for the sweat ducts to be clogged.
  3. Excessive physical activity: Intense exercises or strenuous activity can lead to excessive perspiration, leading to heat rashes
  4. Fabrics: Certain fabrics don’t allow the skin to breathe normally, avoiding the evaporation of the sweat and causing rashes.
  5. Medications: Medications such as Clonidine, Duraclon and beta blockers lead to enhancement of the sweat gland function, thereby contributing towards causing heat rashes.
  6. Creams and ointments: Creams and ointments tend to block the sweat ducts, leading to rashes. 

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Rashes:

In adults, heat often lead to rashes along the folds of the skin. In infants, the rashes are found around the neck, shoulders, chest, armpits, groin and the elbow creases.

There are three major kinds of Miliaria and depending on those, the signs and symptoms of the rashes vary. They are as follows:

  1. Miliaria Crystallina: This is the mildest form of heat rash which affects the sweat ducts on the outermost layer of the skin. During this rash, clear fluid filled blisters appear on the skin, which clears out on their own after a couple of months. These blisters are not itchy or painful.
  2. Miliaria Rubra: These rashes occur on the epidermis of the skin. It is also known as prickly heat. People living in hot and humid climate are prone to develop this kind of rash. These rashes appear in the form of red bumps which have an itchy or prickly feeling in the affected area with little or no sweating at all.
  3. Miliaria Profunda: This is the least common of all the rashes and occurs in the adults who have had recent and repeated bouts of Miliria Rubra. These rashes affect the dermis, the deeper layer of the skin. The signs of these rashes include flesh coloured lesions which resemble goose bumps.

It is recommended to see a doctor if these rashes do not clear on their own after a couple of weeks. If these rashes accompany the formation of pus or swelling in the lymph nodes, it is recommended to seek immediate medical help. 

Diagnosis and Treatment of Heat Rashes:

No tests are needed for the diagnosis of heat rashes. Doctors can easily determine the condition with the help of a physical exam.

The best treatment for Heat Rashes is to reduce the sweating across the affected areas. For this, the doctors recommend the patients to stay in either air conditioned or cool environments and wearing light cotton clothes. These clothes allow the skin to breathe and allow the perspiration to evaporate readily. Usually, when this is followed, the rashes tend to clear off it’s their own.

However, patients suffering from extreme rashes require topical therapies for treatment. These can include the following:

  •       Calamine Lotion in order to soothe the itching
  •       Anhydrous Lanolin in order to prevent the blockage of the ducts and to prevent the new lesions from forming
  •       Topical Steroids which are used in some of the most severe cases. 
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