Heat Rash – Symptoms, Treatment, Pictures, Causes

Heat rash is a skin disorder that leads to the formation of bumps or blisters. The blisters tend to itchy and result in prickly sensations. Heat rash generally tends to affect infants and children, but adults are equally susceptible to develop the condition, particularly at the time of hot and humid weather. Heat rash is also referred to as prickly heat rash or miliaria

The sweat tends to get trapped under the surface if the skin, when the sweat ducts get obstructed. This facilitates the eventual development of heat rash that can either result in formation of shallow blisters or deep reddish bumps.

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A majority of the heat rash cases resolves on its own. It is important for the affected people to take precautionary measures to avoid increased accumulation of sweat and also lower the body and skin temperatures, so as to completely cure the disorder. Severe cases of heat rash are treated with the help of medications.

Symptoms of heat rash

In adults, heat rash can occur in different parts of the body, especially in the areas with skin folds and at those regions where the skin has a tendency to rub against clothing. In infants, heat rash generally tends to occur on the neck, the chest and the shoulders. A few individuals may develop heat rash in unusual and rare areas such as the groin, the elbow folds as well as the armpits.

There are three types of heat rash and each type elicits its characteristic symptoms. The different types of heat and their symptoms are discussed below:

Miliaria crystalline:

  • It is the mildest form of heat rash. The sweat ducts or glands that are present in the uppermost layer of the skin are affected by this type of heat rash.
  • It causes the formation of clear, small and superficial blisters. Occasionally, it can result in the development of tiny papules or lumps that rupture easily.
  • The condition is not painful and does not result in itchiness. They vanish on their own without treatment, but can recur during hot and humid weather conditions. Newborns are at greater risk to develop this type of heat rash as compared to adults.

Miliaria rubra:

  • The outer layer of the skin or the epidermis is affected by this type of heat rash and it occurs deeper within the skin. Adults who experience hospitalization that require prolonged bed rest, or get exposed to hot and humid conditions for longer durations can develop this type of heat rash. It can also develop in newborns that are in their 1st or 3rd week after birth.
  • The affected sites may experience prickly sensations and itchiness
  • The affected sites may elicit decreased or absent sweating
  • Reddish bumps may make an appearance

Miliaria profunda:

  • It is a rare form of heat rash. It can occur in individuals who have experienced persistent cases of miliaria rubra. It affects the sweat glands present deep within the skin in the dermis. Heavy or strenuous physical exercise or other activities that increase the sweating, can increase the risk to developing this type of heat rash.
  • Lesions that similar in appearance to goose bumps may develop. Such lesions are firm and flesh colored
  • Lack of perspiration can result in a heatstroke, which can elicit symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, fast heartbeat, high blood pressure and headache

Causes of heat rash

Heat rash is caused due to the blockage of the sweat ducts present on and below the skin. Such obstruction of the sweat glands can cause the perspiration to get trapped below the skin, eventually leading to the inflammation of the skin and the development of heat rash.

The sweat glands or ducts can get clogged due to the following reasons:

  • The sweat glands of infants are underdeveloped and hence prone to easy bursting. A ruptured sweat gland can cause the sweat to get trapped below the skin. The immature sweat glands of infants can possible rupture due to placement in incubators, high fever, heavy woolen clothing, and exposure to humid and hot conditions.
  • Excessive sweating due to intense physical activities can clog the sweat glands facilitating the formation of heat rash
  • Excessive use of creams and ointments on the skin can clog the sweat glands
  • Tight clothing and use of certain fabrics can prevent perspiration accelerating the onset of heat rash

Heat Rash Treatment

  • The mild cases of heat rash can be treated by taking certain steps such as limiting the strenuous activities, wearing loose clothes, and remaining indoors in air conditioned environments. This can cool the skin and body temperature and thus prevent increased sweating.
  • The moderate cases of heat rash are treated with topical drugs that reduce itching and clear out the sweat glands.
  • The severe cases of heat rash are treated with topical steroids.
  • Individuals affected by moderate and severe cases of heat rash also need to follow the precautionary measures discussed above.

Heat Rash Pictures

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