by Christina DiMartino
Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, is most common in babies during hot and humid weather, but it can also occur in any temperature if your baby is dressed too warmly.
Although heat rash is a minor condition, it can cause your child to be itchy and feel uncomfortable. It is advisable to use some basic healing treatments if you detect heat rash on your baby.
What heat rash is
MedlinePlus provides health information from the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies and health-related organizations. It reports that heat rash occurs in babies when the pores of the sweat glands become blocked, resulting in swelling.
Heat rash is made up of clusters of very small pink bumps surrounded by blotches of pink skin. As your infant sweats, these little bumps and possibly tiny blisters form because the blocked glands cannot clear her body’s perspiration. If blisters form on some of the bumps, the rash can take on a slightly tan look as they dry up.
This pink or red rash usually appears on a baby’s neck, shoulders, and head. It can also sometimes be found on body areas that are covered by clothing, especially the chest and back.
Environmental causes of heat rash
WebMD offers physician-sourced health information, tools for managing your health, and support. It states that in babies, heat rash can be caused by well-meaning parents who dress their baby too warmly, but it can also happen to any baby in very hot weather.
Your baby should be dressed as you would be, to be comfortable at the same temperature and activity level. Your baby’s hands and feet may feel cool to your touch, but that does not mean that he needs to be dressed too warmly in hot weather.
The rash areas can get irritated by clothing or scratching and, although rare, a secondary skin infection may develop.
Heat rash can usually be identified by its appearance, and most forms do not need any treatment or require medical attention. Rashes generally go away in a short period of time if you dress your baby properly and keep him cool. Don’t be afraid to take off his clothes in hot weather.
If you choose to do something about the rash, try wiping off the skin with water and patting it dry, or patting the rash several times a day with a bicarbonate of soda solution (one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to one cup water) on absorbent cotton.
Be wary of dusting your baby’s skin with talcum or cornstarch powder. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that these powders are very irritating to babies’ lungs if accidentally inhaled.
If the rash is annoying your baby, your doctor may suggest an over the counter anti-chafing cream, calamine lotion, or Benadryl. But don’t use these or other products on your baby’s skin without specific medical advice.
Dress your baby appropriately
Itchy Skin Rash, a website all about types of skin rashes, offers additional advice for parents whose infants and babies have heat rash. It suggests dressing your baby in loose cotton clothing as cotton absorbs perspiration more effectively than other fabrics. In cooler weather, dress him in layers of cotton so you can remove them as needed when you’re indoors or in warmer environments.
If heat rash clear up after three or four days, if it appears to be getting worse, or if your child develops a fever, it is advisable to contact your child’s doctor without delay. Watch out for these symptoms:
Christina DiMartino has been a freelance and assignment writer since 1985. She is a researcher, interviewer, writer, editor, and manuscript collaborator with a repertoire of clients from around the world.
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