What is prickly heat?

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Prickly heat is described as an itchy skin rash comprised of small, elevated reddened spots that trigger a prickling or stinging feeling on the skin. The condition can form in any part of the body, but usually on the neck, face, chest, back or thighs a few days after exposure to warm temperatures.

The rash is comprised of small-sized spots or bumps that are bordered by an area of reddened skin. These spots oftentimes appear as tiny blisters and can cause:

  • Itchiness
  • Minor swelling
  • Stinging or intense prickling sensation

What are the causes?

Prickly heat generally develops if an individual sweat more than normal such as during humid or hot weather.

Prickly heat generally develops if an individual sweat more than normal such as during humid or hot weather. Nevertheless, it is possible to develop one in the winter season.

The condition is triggered once the sweat glands in the body are blocked. Profuse sweating can cause the sweat to be trapped under the skin. The trapped sweat triggers irritation of the skin and the distinctive heat rash.

The indications of prickly heat are generally worse in body parts that are covered by clothing. The reason for this is that the clothing makes one sweat and oftentimes cause friction.

Management of prickly heat

Prickly heat is not a serious condition and rarely necessitates any specific form of treatment. The rash typically settles after a few days. Nevertheless, there are several measures that can be done to ease the symptoms such as:

  • Avoid excessive humidity and heat – if there is a need to go outdoors, try spending time in a shaded area or use a small handy fan. If exposure to heat is continued, it causes more sweating that can worsen the rash. Increase the intake of fluids to prevent dehydration particularly during warm weather.
  • Wear loose cotton clothes – avoid those that are made of synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester that easily traps heat than the natural fibers.
  • Make sure that the skin is kept cool – a cool shower or bath can help the body cool down, soothe the skin and prevent further sweating. It is recommended to stay in an air-conditioned room for a few hours for considerable relief. A cold compress can be used but it should not be applied longer than 20 minutes.
  • Apply calamine lotion – this helps soothe the irritated and sore skin
  • Antihistamine tablets – these are given to control the itchiness but a doctor should be consulted first
  • Hydrocortisone cream – the low-strength variant can be used in effectively managing itchy and irritated areas of skin.

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