Even though having a heat rash is common, it is not considered prevalent as many believe. Learning to differentiate heat rash from other prevalent skin rashes is useful to manage the condition.
A heat rash is triggered in some children if they are overheated, either they are overly dressed or because it is too warm outside. As the child becomes hot and starts to sweat, the sweat ducts become blocked and eventually rupture. Take note that this is quite common in infants and young children.
Prickly heat (miliaria rubra)
Prickly heat is the most common form of heat rash. The sweat ducts become red and inflamed and can cause a prickly or stinging sensation. This form can also trigger mild itchiness.
The swollen sweat ducts appear as small-sized bumps surrounded by a reddened halo and usually clumped under the clothing and inside of the skin folds such as armpits, neck and the groin. Infants who wear a hat might develop a heat rash on the scalp and forehead.
Similar to prickly heat, this form of heat rash develops once the sweat ducts are congested and break. These sweat ducts are close to the skin though and do not become inflamed which leads to the distinctive manifestation of small-sized, transparent vesicles on the skin without any redness or other indications typically on the neck, head or the upper chest. It typically occurs in the first week or two of life.
Miliaria profunda is a slightly deeper heat rash. This is seen among children who suffer from recurrent heat rashes that affect the dermis. The bumps often feel harder than a simple heat rash.
Miliaria pustulosa or infected heat rash
Miliaria pustulosa is a clinical name for a heat rash that becomes infected. Once infection develops, the bumps are surrounded by a reddened area and there is drainage of yellowish pus. In most cases, children develop fever.
Treatment of heat rash
Even though heat rash typically subsides on its own in a few days, some might require treatment which includes the following:
- Make sure that the child is dressed lightly or transferred to a cooler or air-conditioned area.
- Mild strength topical steroids can be used by these are not usually required.
- Calamine lotion can be applied if the child appears bothered by the itchiness after cooling down
- You can utilize a compress with tepid to slightly cool water. Avoid using very cold water since this can cause discomfort.
- Antibiotics might be required for secondary infections.