Nothing hot about a heat rash


HOT temperatures can make your summer days almost unbearable if you suffer from a heat rash. Dr Yunoos Omar, a dermatologist based in Johannesburg, explains what causes a heat rash and how it can be prevented.


Dr Yunoos says a heat rash, which is also called miliaria or prickly heat, is a skin irritation that stings and makes your skin red. “Your skin may feel itchy, small bumps may form, and you may feel some prickly sensation. However, the condition is not contagious,” he says. According to Dr Yunoos, a heat rash is most likely to appear on your inner thighs, neck and in the creases of elbows and armpits. He says the most common cause of a heat rash is hot temperatures. “When you sweat too much, sweat can get trapped under your skin and block your sweat glands. You may get a rash if your pores can’t clear out the sweat,” he says.


Dr Yunoos explains that the condition is also very common in babies and children because they have underdeveloped pores. “In children, a heat rash is triggered by sweating too much, having high body temperature, being overdressed or being in a warm environment. Babies who are always dressed in too many clothes are most likely to get heat rash,” says the doctor.  It’s important to note that people can also get a heat rash in winter or during cooler temperatures. Wearing too many clothes or sleeping under heavy, warm blankets in winter can lead to overheating and a heat rash. 


Dr Yunoos says that if you get a heat rash, you should also watch out for signs of infection. These may include pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the affected area. The rash usually clears on its own. Dr Yunoos recommends that you should keep the skin as cool and dry as possible. He advises that you should visit the doctor or your nearest clinic for treatment if the rash gets worse.


 ¦ Try to cool down: Avoid hot and humid places if you can. Instead stay indoors or in an airconditioned room when it’s too hot. 

¦ Reduce friction: Wear loose-fitting clothes that wont irritate your skin. Dr Yunoos advises that dressing in light cotton clothing can help prevent heat rash. “Cotton helps to absorb moisture and keep it off your skin,” he says.

¦ Go for unscented soaps: Use a soap that doesnt have a fragrance or dye because these tend to dry out the skin.

¦ Avoid using baby powder and thick body lotions: “Avoid using baby powder and heavy creams because they can block pores and make the skin even warmer.” 

¦ Get medical treatment: If your condition does not improve after a few days, get medical treatment.

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