Prickly heat or heat rash is a skin disease that consists of itchy, small rashes on the skin due to obstruction of the sweat glands over certain areas of the body. In medical term, prickly heat rash is known as Miliaria Rubra (in Hindi Ghamoria). It occurs especially in the summer due to excessive sweating on the skin. Sometimes, it is caused by humid conditions and it affects people of any age. In this condition, many tiny pin-head-size swellings take place in skin, followed by severe itching. The areas of the body which are affected by prickly heat include the chest, back, waistline, armpits, and groins. Infants and overweight persons are more commonly suffer from heat rash.
In infants, heat rash is most common because their sweat glands are under developed and do not function efficiently. In infants, the rash is mainly found on their neck, shoulders, chest, head, back, armpits and groin. Most frequently, heat rash is self limiting. To cool the skin and prevent sweating is the best way to relieve symptoms. Perspiration is trapped under the skin due to blockage of the sweat ducts and resulting in heat rashes. Usually, adult develop heat rash in skin folds and wherever clothing causes friction.
Causes of Prickly Heat:
- Prolonged exposure in the intense sun can cause rashes
- Obese people are more susceptible to heat rashes
- In infants due to underdeveloped sweat ducts
- Physical activity and hard work
- Some medications such as high blood pressure and acne medicines
- Tight-fitting synthetic clothes of nylon and polyester trap sweat and heats up the skin, so prickly heat is common in people who wear such clothes in summer.
- People who eat things like pickles and mangoes in summer excessively, can have prickly heat
- Poor hygiene is the main cause of prickly heat rash. When the sweat glands (ducts) become clogged or blocked by dead skin cells or bacteria, they become inflamed at the opening because of accumulation of sweat and natural oils inside the skin, causing itching and rashes
Symptoms of Prickly Heat:
- Small Blisters may take place
- Irritating itch and prickling sensation
- Redness and mild swelling of the affected area
- Itching sensation on the areas where sweat collects
- Tiny red spots may occur on the areas more prone to sweat, such as the armpits, back, under the breasts, chest, groin, crooks of elbows and knees, and the waist
- Infection with bacteria causing inflamed and itchy pustules especially in children in diapers
- Heat exhaustion which can cause low blood pressure, nausea, headache and a rapid pulse
- Untreated heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition
Prevention of prickly heat:
- Try to use air-conditioning wherever possible.
- Do not exert yourself so much that you produce more sweat.
- Avoid hot and humid climates as much as possible.
- Drink lots of water in the summer season. This helps to keep the sebaceous (sweat) glands functional.
- If sweat takes place on the body, clean it off as soon as possible. If you can, have a bath to eliminate the sweat, or at least wipe off the body with a rough towel in order to unclog the sweat pores.
- Air circulation is very important in summer. If there is no air conditioner, at least keep the room well-ventilated. Also be dressed in loose cotton clothes to allow the air to pass through it.
- In the summer season, take a bath several times a day if your work involves a lot of sweating. Also, very important to keep in mind; have a bath in the night before going to bed. Or else the sweat will dry up on the skin and will probably cover the sweat pores by morning.
Home remedies for prickly heat:
- For prickly heat treatment, wear cool, light clothing and abstain from alcoholic drinks.
- Drink plenty of water during hot weather.
- Apply paste of gram flour and then a cold-water bath after sometime. It will give relief.
- Prepare a paste by mixing 1 teaspoon of sandalwood powder, 1-teaspoon coriander seeds (dhania) powder, 1 teaspoon nagarmusta (Cyperus scariosus) powder and rose/cold water. Mix them well and apply on the body. Depart it on for an hour and then take cold-water bath. This is an effective home remedy for prickly heat treatment.
- Make a compress by plunging a washcloth in a mixture of one teaspoon of baking soda per cup of cool water. Apply to the rash for five to ten minutes. Do this four or five times a day. This is one of the useful home remedies for prickly heat treatment.
- Gently rinse skin with soft gauze and lukewarm water and pat on a mixture of one part alcohol to three parts boiled water after cooled.
- Dissolve Fuller’s earth (Multani mitti) in water to create a thin paste. It should be smeared over the affected parts. When the paste dries, rinse with cold water. This is an effective home remedy for prickly heat treatment.
- The paste made of powdered bark of pipal tree and finely powdered brick is applied on the affected parts all over the body.
- Take a small piece of sandalwood and massage it into a paste on a stone with rose water. Mix a pinch of powdered alum to the paste and apply to the affected skin twice or thrice a week depending upon the condition of prickly heat. One of the useful home remedies for prickly heat treatment.
- Wear loose cotton clothing to encourage the evaporation of sweat and prevent further skin irritation.
- Drinking cool foamy butter-milk (Chaas) also does well.
- Eat grapes or put away plenty of grape juice everyday.
- ‘Tender coconut’ water has lots of kindness and it also helps to somewhat.
- A cold infusion of coriander (dhania) seeds twice a day also works marvel.
- Grind leaves of neem in water and apply on the affected skin.
- The powder of sandalwood dusted all over the body is effective in giving relief in prickly heat.
- Apply green henna ground in water on the affected skin.
- Sattu mixed with water and a pinch of sugar give direct relief.
- Oatmeal baths twice a day may also relieve the itch.
- The paste made of the seeds of jambul and applied over the body is effective in treating prickly heat. This is one of the best home remedies for prickly heat treatment.
- Avoid using greasy moisturizers to hydrate the skin as these can trap heat and cause more discomfort to the blistering burns. The affected areas require to be kept clean and dry to prevent infection from spreading to other body parts.
- Aloe Vera gel is a highly effective remedy for soothing prickly heat as it is endowed with anti-inflammatory properties and tissue regenerative substances, such as zinc.
- Straight off the kitchen shelf is another effective home remedy for treating prickly heat: honey! It cools and calms the affected area and refills natural sugars lost in sun exposure.
- Two outstanding essential oils for treating skin disorders like prickly heat and sunburn are lavender and chamomile that even children can use safely. Lavender soothes and cools the skin and is the only essential oil that can be applied directly on to the skin.
- Application of a cold compress to take the heat out and an un-perfumed moisturizer patted on lightly will help to decrease dryness and redness caused due to prickly heat.
- Increase intake of fruit having a high water-content like watermelon, pineapple or cucumber. They help to replace lost fluids. Fresh mint or lemongrass tea is frequently consumed in hot countries, due to its cooling properties, especially mint tea that helps to reduce body temperature and takes the heat out of the prickly.