Getting prickly heat rash can be both irritating and discomforting. These tiny red bumps, which are usually very itchy, commonly appear during hot and humid climate as they are triggered by profuse sweating. The rash typically affects the areas on which the skin and clothes rub against each other, like the armpits, neck, back, upper chest, abdomen and groin. A small number of people experience severe rashes which interfere with the heat mechanism of the body.
Treatment for prickly heat is not always necessary because it generally clears up over time even without treatment. However, severe cases of heat rash require medical treatment because the rash could invite bacteria and cause infection. Besides, severe form of heat rash could lead to heat exhaustion and cause other unpleasant symptoms. Much worse, it could aggravate into a more serious condition, such as heatstroke, if left untreated.
Prickly heat or miliaria occurs when the skin pores are blocked, thereby trapping sweat under the skin. This is usually brought about by heavy sweating during hot and humid weather. Perspiration gives way for bacteria and dead skin cells to block the pores of the skin. This prevents sweat from evaporating and gets trapped instead under the skin, resulting in bumps or rash to appear. The release of sweat causes stinging or prickly sensation on the affected region.
This skin problem afflicts both young and adults. However, it has been found to primarily affect newborns and infants. High incidence of miliaria is reported in tropical regions as well as from people who are living very active lifestyles. The odds of developing prickly heat rash are also high among those who do not wear moisture-absorbent clothing.
Appearance of prickly heat rash
Miliaria comes in various forms, ranging from mild to extremely itchy. The rash is classified based on affected part of the skin.
- Miliaria rubra
The outer skin layer is blocked in this form of heat rash which causes inflammation and blister-like red bumps on the skin. The affected site feels itchy and prickly with little to no sweating at all.
- Miliaria crystallina
Blockage occurs on the outermost layer of the skin in miliaria crystallina which give rise to very small, clear blisters on the skin. There is no inflammation and the bumps are neither itchy nor painful.
- Miliaria profunda
Blockage is present in the deeper skin layer and causes hard, large and pinkish bumps. These usually appear immediately after engaging in activities that cause the body to sweat. Sufferers can sometimes feel dizzy and nauseous and suffer rapid pulse. Miliaria profunda could aggravate into heat exhaustion once ignored.
There are steps that can be taken to avoid getting prickly heat rash. First of all, the skin must be kept cool and dry by wearing light cotton fabrics and loose clothing. Second, do away with applying thick creams, moisturizers and ointments; rather, opt for light water-based lotions. Third, stay under the shade or inside cool or air-conditioned rooms to keep oneself fresh. If infection occurs or if the rashes spread to other parts of the body, then consultation with the doctor is necessary to determine the best treatment course.
Prickly Heat Rash Pictures