Heat Rashes In Chidren: Causes, Symptoms And Remedies

Heat Rashes In Chidren

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Heat rashes may not be a serious condition but they are surely an irritation. The rashes mostly appear on the parts of the body where the perspiration persists for long.

So, how can parents deal with heat rashes in children? MomJunction tells you the causes of heat rashes, home remedies to try, and the ways to prevent them.

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What Causes Heat Rash In Children?

A heat rash occurs due to the trapping of sweat within the sweat pore thus blocking the sweat gland.

Certain conditions and situations can lead to the accumulation of sweat on the skin eventually blocking the sweat gland. Here are the causes of heat rashes in kids (1):

  1. Hot weather is the leading cause of heat rash. It causes a child to sweat more than usual thus exacerbating the chances of a heat rash.
  1. High humidity also leads to sweating, slowing down the evaporation of sweat and causing it to stay on the skin longer.
  1. Overdressing with too many layers of clothes or tight clothes in warm weather can cause excessive sweating and heat rash.
  1. Intense exercise and playing outdoors make children sweat a lot more than they do indoors. Intense physical activity can increase the chances of the child getting a heat rash.
  1. Thick ointments and creams can prevent sweat from evaporating and lead to blocked sweat pores.

Heat rash, also known as prickly heat and miliaria, is of various types.

 [ Read: Skin Rashes In Children ]

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Types of heat rash:

There are three main types of miliaria (2):

  1. Miliaria rubra: It is the type of miliaria most commonly called heat rash or prickly heat (3). Miliaria rubra occurs deeper in the skin layers and blocks the sweat pore. It can cause the sweat to leak within the epidermis leading to red blisters/rashes that are medically called papules. Miliaria rubra is the most common type of heat rash (4).
  1. Miliaria crystallina: The blockage of the sweat gland is very superficial leading to the formation of clear blisters (vesicles) (5). It is more common among infants than in children.
  1. Miliaria profunda: It is the severest form of heat rash that mostly occurs due to ignored miliaria rubra or when you do not take measures to prevent recurrent heat rashes. Miliaria profunda features extensive blockage of sweat gland going as deep as the dermis layer of the skin.

Heat rashes have specific appearances. Read on to know them.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Heat Rash In Children?

If you suspect a heat rash, then look for the following symptoms:

  1. Tiny, red to pinkish bumps that are often surrounded by reddened skin.
  1. Bumps appear on parts of the body, such as the neck and chest, where the sweat is most likely to stay accumulated. Heat rashes can occur on the forehead and along the folds of the skin like the underarms and groins.
  1. The rash feels itchy and prickly.
  1. Sometimes that rash may appear as a watery blister.

Heat rash is seldom a medical emergency and does not cause any problems beyond a mild skin discomfort. But sometimes you may have to let a doctor take a look to ensure the rash is not a symptom of some underlying condition.

[ Read: Malaria Causes In Children ]

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When To Take A Child To A Doctor?

If the following symptoms accompany a heat rash, then take the child to a doctor:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Extreme lethargy or dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pus in the blisters
  • Swollen lymph nodes

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How Is A Heat Rash Diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose a heat rash through inspection alone. If your child has other symptoms, then the doctor will run a few diagnostic tests to determine the fundamental cause. If the itching is severe, then the doctor may prescribe a 1% hydrocortisone cream to apply on the affected areas.

Most cases of prickly heat do not require a visit to a doctor and medication. You can take remedial steps at home when you notice heat rash.

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How To Treat And Prevent Heat Rash In Children?

The following are the best heat rash remedies for kids:

  1. Dress in fewer layers of clothing: Heat rashes occur due to poor evaporation of sweat. Therefore, dress your child in fewer layers of clothes made from natural fabrics like cotton. Cotton absorbs sweat and also allows ventilation. If your child has a heat rash, then it is quite likely that the weather is warm or hot. It is thus okay for them to roam around in one layer of clothing to let the body stay cool.
  1. Give a cool bath: Let the child have a bath with cool water without soap. Keep the water cool to touch and not cold since it can cause chills. Pat dry the skin with an absorbent towel and let the child stand under a fan to allow rest of the water to dry. Cool baths help soothe itching and the prickly feeling caused by a heat rash.
  1. Keep cool ambient temperature: Keep the fan running at maximum speed in your child’s room during summers. If it is hot and very humid, then use an air conditioner to make the temperature comfortable enough to prevent excessive sweating, and subside any existing heat rashes.
  1. Use prickly heat dusting powder: Several over-the-counter prickly heat dusting powders help contain itching and also absorb sweat. Buy a prickly heat powder that is safe for your child’s age, and apply the powder on the affected/prone areas.
  1. Dry off after exercise: Let the child stand under the fan after coming back from the outdoors. It helps evaporate the sweat and prevents its accumulation on the skin, thus mitigating the chances of prickly heat.

[ Read: Folliculitis In Children ]

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Taking some preventive measures is the easiest way to avoid heat rashes in kids. Your child will be able to manage the sweating better as they grow older. Until then try to keep them cool in natural and cool fabrics during hot weather conditions.


1. A. Gilman, Miliaria Crystallina; Stanford Medicine
2. The Generalized Rash: Part I. Differential Diagnosis; American Family Physician
3. Occupational Exposure to Hot Environments; Center for Disease Control and Prevention
4. T. Poonawalla, Miliaria; University of Texas Medical Branch
5. Heat Rash; Seattle Children’s Hospital


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Rohit Garoo

Rohit Garoo took writing as a profession right after finishing his MBA in Marketing. Earlier he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Botany & Zoology from the autonomous St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. Rohit has also done a Stanford University certification course on breastfeeding. This botanist-zoologist turned writer excels at life sciences, and at MomJunction he writes everything about pediatrics and maternal care. In between writing and being overly curious, he spends time cooking, reading, and playing video games. LinkedIn profile –
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