Prickly heat rash

Prickly heat rash, also called as Miliaria, is a skin condition that causes blisters and lumps leading to prickly sensations. It is more common among infants, children and older adults. It is widespread especially during summers and humid weather.

When the sweat ducts get clogged, it leads to the trapping of sweat beneath the surface of the skin. This causes the formation of prickly heat rash which culminates in the development of deep, reddish lumps or shallow blisters.

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One can prevent the excessive collection of sweat by taking the necessary steps to lower the body heat. The healing of prickly heat rash takes place on its own. However serious cases, need treatment.

Prickly heat rash symptoms

  • In adults, prickly heat rash occurs over skin creases and on areas where the clothes brush and cause friction
  • For infants it tends to affect the neck, shoulders and chest as well as the elbow folds, groin and armpits.

Prickly heat rash are of three types and their symptoms are shown under:

Miliaria crystalline-

  • Miliaria crystalline is the mildest type which affects the sweat glands present in outermost layer of skin. Newborns are more prone to get this form of prickly heat rash as compared to adults.
  • Formation of tiny, shallow blisters or bumps and papules that break easily
  • Blisters do not cause itching or pain and disappear automatically. During summers and in humid weather conditions, this form of prickly heat rash may reoccur.

Miliaria rubra-

  • Develops deeper in skin and affects glands of epidermis. Adults exposed to hot and humid climate and people hospitalized for a prolonged period are normally affected. Infants up to three weeks old are prone to get it.
  • Intensive itching and prickly feeling over affected portion.
  • Formation of red bumps
  • Affected portion may not perspire and have lesser sweat.

Miliaria profunda-

  • It is a rare kind of prickly heat rash. The adults who have suffered chronic cases of miliaria rubra usually get it. It occurs much deeper inside skin and affects the dermis. Heavy physical exercises that generate perspiration cause this form of prickly heat rash.
  • Development of goose bumps-like lesions and other symptoms of heat exhaustion such as hypertension, excess heartbeats, headache, nausea, and dizziness

Causes of prickly heat rash

The clogging of sweat ducts causes prickly heat rash. Evaporation of sweat is not possible due to the blockage of sweat ducts, leading to it getting trapped beneath the skin, which in turn causes the prickly heat rash and inflammation.

The reasons for clogging of ducts are:

  • Newborns may have undeveloped or under developed ducts which are prone to easy rupture and the accumulation of sweat under the skin surface.
  • Infants who are placed in incubators, wrapped in heavy wool, or exposed to hot and humid weather are at greater risk to develop prickly heat rash.
  • Strenuous physical activities and excessive exercising can cause more sweating, increasing the vulnerability to the rash
  • Applying ointments and creams block skin pores.
  • Tropical climates and hot and humid weather
  • Use of synthetic fabrics and tight clothing prevent evaporation of sweat
  • Use of warmer blankets or electric heaters during winter
  • Some drugs used for curing illness
  • Prolonged hospitalization and bed rest

Treatment for prickly heat rash

  • Limiting physical exercises, loose clothing and staying indoors in air conditioning.
  • Topical medications for moderate cases to reduce itching and clogging.
  • Topical steroids for severe cases.

Prickly heat rash pictures

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