17 May Heat Rashes are on the Rise
Some people think of heat rashes only occurring in babies, but adults can get them, too (particularly in the summer months). Spectrum Dermatology always sees an increase in heat rashes this time of year. The condition, also known as prickly heat or miliaria, happens when sweat gets trapped in pores. The symptoms of heat rash can vary greatly, from red bumps to blisters. Sometimes heat rash can cause itching or a prickly feeling, thus the name prickly heat. In most cases heat rashes will clear up on their own, but you can get faster relief by seeing your dermatologist when you suspect a heat rash or notice any kind of skin condition.
The key to minimizing heat rash is to both cool the skin and prevent sweating. As an adult, you will most often notice heat rash in skin folds, often where clothing causes friction (such as the armpits). Babies most often present with heat rash in the folds of their neck, chest, and shoulders. They might also develop heat rash in the groin and elbow creases.
Different Kinds of Heat Rash
There are different types of heat rash that are determined by how deep the plugged sweat ducts are. The most common (and mildest) type of heat rash is called miliaria crystallina, and it affects the top skin layer. You’ll notice a clear blister filled with fluid as well as bumps that can be easily broken—though you don’t want to intentionally break them.
The next type of heat rash presents as sacs filled with fluid that get inflamed and full of pus. This is known as miliaria pustulosa. Finally, there is a rarer type of heat rash called miliaria profunda. This type of heat rash can be found in the deeper layers of the skin. When this happens, the trapped sweat makes its way into the skin and creates hard lesions that are flesh colored. It can look like goose bumps that don’t go away.
Seeing a Dermatologist
You can try cooling the skin and stopping the activity that caused sweating to quickly reduce heat rash. However, if the rash continues, you will want to see a dermatologist. Heat rashes can become infected, and when this happens you might notice an increase in redness, warmth, and pain in the area. If you notice pus in the lesions, lymph nodes that are swollen, or get a fever and/or chills, these are signs and symptoms that require a medical evaluation.
Everyone sweats, but sometimes our sweat ducts get clogged. Sweat is meant to evaporate, but when it gets stuck under the skin a rash and inflammation happens. Sometimes there’s no clear reason why the ducts are blocked, but there is a trend that can be spotted amongst those with heat rash. In babies, they may have “immature” sweat ducts. Since these ducts aren’t completely developed yet, they can break and trap perspiration.
Those who live in tropical climates tend to get heat rash more often. This is also true if you’re vacationing in the tropics. A combination of heat and humidity is the perfect storm for a heat rash. Of course, working out and sweating intensely puts you at a higher risk of heat rash. Overheating for any reason, whether it’s dressing too warmly or exercising, can lead to a heat rash. A prolonged bed rest has also been linked to heat rash, particularly if you’re resting with a fever.
Treating a Heat Rash
Your dermatologist has numerous methods for treating heat rashes. There are special ointments that may be prescribed, often containing calamine for a soothing touch. An anhydrous lanolin can help stop new duct blockage. Sometimes topical steroids are necessary, particularly in severe cases. However, the best thing you can do is avoid a heat rash in the first place. Dress in light, loose clothing when it’s hot outside and bathe in cool water with soap that doesn’t dry the skin.
Make sure to avoid any topicals that block pores, such as petroleum. You can also use over the counter calamine lotion if you’re prone to irritated skin. However, if you do have heat rash, know that help is available. Contact Spectrum Dermatology today via phone or our online form and schedule an appointment to treat your heat rash.