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Heat Rash - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Definition

Heat rash is also called prickly heat or miliaria it is a common condition in which areas of the skin itch intensely and often feels prickly, or sting, due to overheating. Heat rash looks like tiny bumps surrounded by a zone of red skin. It usually occurs on clothed parts of the body, such as the back, abdomen, neck, upper chest, groin or armpits and goes away on its own within a few days. In severe forms, however, heat rash can interfere with the body's heat-regulating mechanism and cause fever, heat exhaustion, and even death. It is a common condition in hot and humid conditions, such as in the tropics and during the summer season. Although it affects people of all ages, it is especially common in children and infants due to their underdeveloped sweat glands.

Causes

  1. Heat rash begins with excessive perspiration, usually in a hot, humid environment. The perspiration damages cells on the surface of the skin, forming a barrier and trapping sweat beneath the skin, where it builds up, causing the characteristic bumps.
  2. The rash is caused by a blockage and inflammation of sweat ducts during times of exposure to heat and high humidity.
  3. Prolonged exposure to perspiration can lead to plugging of the sweat ducts. These results in the duct breaking open and the escape of sweat below the skin which causes the rash known as heat rash.
  4. Risk of disease from tropical climate geographic areas is lot more because the chances of heat feel and sweating are lot more in tropical areas.

Symptoms

  1. The most common symptoms of heat rash are small, itchy red bumps on the skin and a prickly, stinging, or burning sensation.
  2. The rash may feel prickly, stinging, or burning.
  3. Usually, heat rash appears on moist parts of the body where skin surfaces can touch, such as on the neck, under the arms, and between the legs.
  4. Heat rash is sometimes confused with chafing because the symptoms are similar. However, chafing is caused by friction between two skin surfaces rubbing together and not by obstructed sweat ducts.

Treatment

  1. In most cases the rashes disappear by themselves. No special treatment is needed.
  2. Start by cooling your body down. Remove or loosen clothing and move to a cool, shady spot.
  3. Avoid all ointments or oils because they can block off sweat glands. Be sure the rash isn't caused by a mentholated ointment being used for a cough.
  4. If your skin is irritable to touch, calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream may be used with your health professional's approval.
  5. Instead of medicating, it is usually best to simply keep the skin clean by taking multiple showers to keep affected areas clean and sweat free.
  6. Mild antibacterial soaps may be helpful as well to slow spread and prevent future outbreaks.
  7. Steroid creams containing hydrocortisone should be applied 3-times daily to rash to relieve itching and irritation.
  8. Avoid exposure to heavy sunlight.
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