What is Heat Rash?

Heat rash is one of the common skin rash conditions caused due to blocked sweat glands. It is named Miliaria in medical terms. Most of the time, this condition is concerning, irritating, and downright painful. Heat rash occurs in deeper tissue and is commonly found in children during summer times. While heat rashes in babies occur in the areas around the neck, elbows, armpits, and thighs, adults experience rashes in the areas such as the inner thigh or under the arms where the skin rubs against each other. Let us discuss them in detail here.

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About Heat Rash

Skin rashes are an initial symptom of skin infections. They can be concerning, irritating, and downright painful. One such common skin condition are heat rashes, also known medically as miliaria. But what causes heat rashes?

You develop this condition due to blocked sweat glands in deeper skin tissues. It is a common skin condition in children during summers. In adults, the infection can develop in areas that rub together, such as the area between the inner thigh or under the arms. In babies, heat rashes are often seen around the neck, armpits, elbows, and thighs.

The prickly heat rash types can range in severity and their appearance can look different as well.

1. Miliaria Crystallina

It is one of the most common types of heat rash. Those suffering from this infection will notice small, clear/white bumps filled with fluids on the skin surface. These bubbles are sweat accumulations and often burst on their own. It is common in young babies and sometimes in adults.

2. Miliaria Rubra

It is commonly known as prickly heat and is often observed in adults. Miliaria rubra causes more discomfort as compared to miliaria crystallina. The condition occurs due to hot and humid weather conditions and can cause itchiness, redness, or inflammation of the skin. If not treated on time, the rash can develop pus. This condition is then known as miliaria pustulosa.

3. Miliaria Profunda

It is the rarest form of heat rash, but can recur and can become chronic or long-lasting. The condition occurs in adults after intense physical activities that produce sweat. Those suffering from miliaria profunda will experience larger, tough, flesh-coloured bumps on the skin.

From the looks of it, heat rashes are distressing, itchy, and very uncomfortable to deal with. But don’t worry! In this section, we have discussed heat rash causes, diagnosis, treatment, and preventive measures. Let us begin by understanding the common symptoms of heat rash.

Symptoms of Heat Rash

The heat rash symptoms include the following:

  • Small red spots or bumps on the skin

  • Constant itching or prickling sensation

  • Mild swelling of the infected area

Lighter skin tones will notice red spots while the same can be a bit difficult to observe on darker skin tones. Heat rash can affect areas such as:

  • Face

  • Neck

  • Under the breasts

  • Under the scrotum

It can also appear in skin-folds and areas where the skin rubs either against a surface or itself, such as the back, chest, stomach, inner thigh, etc. If bacteria enter the body from the infected skin surface, it can lead to inflammation and other skin infections.

Causes of Heat Rash

As we learned earlier, heat rashes occur due to blocked sweat glands on the skin. Blockage in sweat glands could be due to multiple reasons, such as:

  • Due to hot and humid weather

  • Intense physical activity

  • Fever

  • Wearing synthetic fabrics close to the skin

  • Wearing a non-porous bandage

  • Prolonged bed rest

  • A side effect of certain medications

  • Radiation therapy

  • In babies, it happens because the sweat glands are still developing

In most cases, heat rash disappears without any treatment. However, the condition is alarming if you notice the following:

  • The rash is persistent or recurring or becomes more severe.

  • There are clear signs of skin infection such as blisters or pustular lesions.

  • There are signs of heat exhaustion.

  • The infected person has a fever.

However, other summer diseases can also cause similar-looking rashes. In such times, it is best to consult a medical expert and get yourself diagnosed and treated before it poses any risk to your health.

Diagnosis of Heat Rash

Heat rash is not infectious or risky to your health in most cases. However, if the symptoms are persistent for weeks or can even worsen with time. Hence, it is best to visit a doctor. The doctor will examine the rash using a dermoscopy for further inspection. They might even take a skin punch biopsy or use imaging technology to identify the cause of the rash.

Skin changes are a common symptom of many health issues. A heat rash can signify the following:

  • Viral infections such as chickenpox or measles

  • Bacterial infections such as impetigo

  • Hives

  • Fungal infections such as candidiasis

  • Insect bites

  • Folliculitis

  • Acute HIV

Besides, if you are suffering from any one or more of the following symptoms, it means the cause of the rash can be serious.

  • Fever

  • Cough and cold

  • Fatigue

  • Enlarged lymph nodes

  • Muscle aches

The doctor will be able to diagnose the primary cause of the rash after examining the infected skin area and other symptoms associated with it. Based on the diagnosis, they will recommend the appropriate treatment.

Treatment for Heat Rash

Usually, heat rashes disappear within 24 hours. However, some can last for a few days. When the infection lasts for days, it can be very distressing. To soothe the discomfort and inflammation, you can do some home remedies. Here, take a look!

1. Take Cold Showers

A heat rash normally recovers after the skin cools down. Bathing in cold water helps. Draw a cold water bath and wash the infected area gently to unclog the blocked pores. Next, ensure that you dry your skin properly as wet skin can cause more irritation.

2. Stay Under a Fan or an Air Conditioner

Until the heat rash recovers, avoid doing any activity that causes excessive sweating. It is essential to provide maximum ventilation to the skin and let the rash dry out. Staying under the fan or air conditioner helps.

3. Wear Light Clothes

To recover from the heat rash, avoid wearing clothes that can cause skin irritation or make you sweat more. Opt to wear light, loose-fitting clothes that allow your skin to breathe without causing any discomfort.

4. Use Ice Packs or Cold Cloths

Using cold compression can help soothe skin irritation due to heat rash. You can use a cloth soaked in cold water or wrapped in ice on the infected area to get instant relief from the pain and irritation.

5. Oatmeal and Sandalwood

Oatmeal is another home remedy that is very effective in reducing itching and inflammation of the skin. It can be useful in treating heat rash and various other skin conditions. Soak 1-2 cups of oatmeal in lukewarm water for 20 minutes. Ensure that the water is not hot to avoid further irritation. Besides, you can also make a paste with oatmeal and water and apply it to the infected area.

Another effective home remedy is sandalwood. Sandalwood is known for its anti-inflammatory properties that reduce pain. Mix sandalwood powder with water to make a paste. However, before you apply it to the infected area, apply it to over normal skin and leave it for an hour. If there’s no reaction, you can use it over the rash without worrying about allergic issues.

6. Baking Soda and Aloe Vera

Baking soda is known to soothe skin itchiness, making it a great home remedy for heat rash and other skin conditions. Add 3-4 spoons of baking soda to lukewarm water and draw a bath for 20 minutes.

Besides, we all know about aloe vera and its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It helps soothe skin inflammation and prevents further infections. You can apply aloe vera gel directly on the heat rash to reduce the distress and itchiness.

7. Neem and Epsom Salt

Neem, also known as margosa, can be used to treat numerous skin infections. It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Mix neem powder with water to make a paste. Apply it over the rash and leave it on for a few minutes before washing it off.

Epsom salt too is known to have various health benefits. Draw a bath with epsom salt (1-2 cups) to relieve the itchiness caused due to heat rash. However, ensure that you do not swallow any water as epsom salt is a laxative when consumed, and can cause diarrhoea.

Prevention of Heat Rash

If you wish to reduce the recurrence of prickly heat, try doing the following things:

  • Avoid activities that can lead to excessive sweating.

  • Try staying cool or staying under the shade when travelling.

  • Wear light clothes made out of breathable fibre, such as cotton.

  • Avoid exposing your skin to the hot and humid weather.

  • Gently exfoliate the skin to remove dead cells.

  • Try taking cold showers during summer and pat your skin dry instead of rubbing.


Heat rash is common during the summers. Usually, heat rashes recover without any medical treatment. However, if it recurs or leads to severe skin infections, it is essential to consult a doctor immediately.

While health concerns can arise without any warning, the least you can do is cover yourself and your loved ones with a health insurance plan. The policy takes care of the treatment and hospitalisation expenses whenever needed. Stay safe!

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