Heat Rash

How to Cool and Treat a Heat Rash Fast

+ Pamela Friedman

If you’ve ever suffered from a heat rash, you know how it feels.

Hot. Stingy. Prickly.

Also called “prickly heat,” it’s something you want to get rid of fast.

We have some tips on how to do that.

What Is a Heat Rash?

Heat rashes happen most often in hot, humid weather. They develop on areas of the body where you’re likely to sweat. A lot.

A heat rash occurs when the sweat ducts become inflamed and blocked, which can happen in times of excessive sweating. Instead of evaporating, the sweat becomes trapped beneath the skin. That leads to irritation.

Dermatologists classify heat rashes according to how deep the blockage is.

  • Mild (Miliaria Crystallina): The opening of the sweat duct on the surface of the skin is blocked. The rash is marked by tiny, clear, fluid-filled bumps that easily break.
  • Moderate (Miliaria Rubra): The sweat duct is blocked deeper in the skin, under the surface layer. It creates small, inflamed blister-like bumps. It causes itching or prickling sensations.
  • Pus-Filled (Miliaria Pustolosa): An exacerbated form of miliaria rubra, this heat rash causes the inflamed bumps to fill with pus.
  • Serious (Miliaria Profunda): This affects the deepest layer of the skin. It causes firm, painful, or itchy inflamed bumps that look like goosebumps. These bumps may break open.

On lighter skin, a heat rash causes raised bumps surrounded by red, irritated skin. On darker skin tones, the bumps might appear gray, purple, or white. In some cases, a heat rash on darker skin can cause hyperpigmentation—skin color changes that last a few weeks or months after the rash has healed.

A heat rash typically lasts about 2-3 days. More severe heat rashes can last up to a couple of weeks without treatment.

What Increases the Risk of a Heat Rash?

Heat rashes affect an estimated 4-9 percent of newborn babies because their sweat glands haven’t fully developed yet. But the condition also affects nearly 30 percent of adults who live in humid climates.

Factors that can increase your risk of a heat rash include:

  • Living in a hot, humid climate
  • Being physically active on a hot day
  • Being prone to intense sweating
  • Having a fever
  • Being on bed rest

What Are the Signs of a Heat Rash?

The first sign of a heat rash is usually a prickly, hot sensation. Heat rashes tend to itch a lot! You may notice clusters of small, inflamed, blister-like bumps or clear, fluid-filled bumps.

Without treatment, the rash may spread to other nearby areas of the skin. This occurs because of clogged sweat pathways. (Note: Heat rashes are not contagious.) To stop the spread, it’s important to cool down quickly.

A heat rash most commonly forms in skin folds and areas where the clothing rubs against the skin. Typical areas include the back, belly, neck, upper chest, groin, armpits, inner thighs, under the breasts, in the elbow creases, and on the backs of the knees.

What is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Heat Rash?

There is no standard treatment for heat rash. That’s because once you cool off, it usually goes away on its own.

1. Cool Off Quickly

You can speed up the healing process in several ways. Start by taking the following steps to cool off quickly:

  • Get to a cooler, dryer place.
  • Take a cool shower or bath. Add colloidal oatmeal if you like to reduce the itch.
  • Change your clothes if you can.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid scratching.

2. Calm the Itch

The next step is to calm the itching or prickly feeling. You can start by applying a cool, damp cloth or ice pack wrapped in a thin towel on the area for up to 20 minutes.

3. Avoid the Wrong Products!

Once you’ve cooled and patted dry the affected skin, it’s time to treat the rash. Avoid using baby powders, as they can contribute to clogged pores, making the rash worse. Also, avoid ointments or lotions with petrolatum ingredients (like mineral oil) as these can also clog your pores and worsen the rash.

Avoid any creams or ointments that have synthetic fragrances in them. These can often irritate raw, red skin, which will make the heat rash feel worse.

Finally, use caution with hydrocortisone cream. Hydrocortisone is a steroid anti-itch medication. It may help soothe the itch in some people, but it can cause side effects that further irritate the skin. If you do decide to try it, use a cream instead of an ointment. Ointments often contain petrolatum ingredients that can further block sweat glands.

Restorative Heat Rash

4. Use CV Skinlabs Products

All of our CV Skinlabs products are non-clogging, which means that, unlike some other creams and lotions, they will not further clog the sweat glands. Further, they contain heat-removing and anti-inflammatory ingredients that will help accelerate the healing of your heat rash.

Choose from the following, or feel free to use them all:

  • Rescue + Relief Spray: Use this product first. It provides immediate cooling relief and will also start reducing inflammation and itch.
  • Calming Moisture: Next, apply Calming Moisture to the affected area. It will help tame redness and promote healing.
  • Restorative Skin Balm: This steroid-free and petrolatum-free ointment will soothe the skin, reduce inflammation, and calm irritation and swelling.

Our products are safe for the entire family, even expectant moms and newborns.

How Do I Prevent a Heat Rash?

If you know you’re going to be working or exercising out in the hot sun, try the following tips to avoid suffering a heat rash:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing made of natural, breathable fibers like cotton.
  • If you’re sweating a lot, cool off with fans, showers, and air conditioning.
  • Try to avoid working outside during the hottest time of the day, which is typically between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • Avoid using creams and ointments that block pores (like petrolatum products).
  • Be cautious with drugs that can cause sweating, such as beta blockers and opioids.

Should I Call My Doctor About Heat Rash?

In most cases, your heat rash will go away in a few days. If it’s still there four or more days later, or if you notice the following symptoms, go ahead and call your doctor about it. Meanwhile, continue to treat the rash with the tips provided above.

  • The rash is very painful or intensely itchy.
  • The rash is bright red or has streaks in it.
  • The irritated bumps leak pus or form scabs.
  • You are developing an infection in the area of the rash. (Look for swelling, redness, pus and yellow fluid inside the bumps.)
  • You have a fever or experience other symptoms of illness.
  • The rash doesn’t go away after a week or two.

Have you suffered from a heat rash?

Featured image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay.

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