Heat Rashes In Children: How To Treat And Prevent Them

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Heat rashes in children may be of many types and cause skin irritation. Thankfully, it is not considered a serious condition. These rashes usually affect the skin in the body parts that remain sweaty for a long duration. They are self-limiting and get resolved in a few days (1).

Continue reading this post as we tell you about the various types of heat rashes, the causes of heat rashes in children, their symptoms, and some home care tips for managing and preventing such rashes.

Types And Symptoms Of Heat Rashes

1. Miliaria rubra

  • This appears as red to pinkish bumps without any pus.
  • These are a few millimeters in size and appear as blisters.
  • The bumps appear on the fold of neck, forehead, creases of elbow and knee.
  • They also appear in the armpits and groin areas (2).

These tend to go away after a few days when the body temperature comes to normal.

2. Miliaria crystallina

  • Is the least severe of the three types.
  • Occurs in neonates as their sweat glands are yet to mature.
  • 1-2 diameter bumps with clear liquid appear on the neck, axillae, and face (3)

Cooling down the body and avoiding excessive clothing will reduce the rashes within a few days.

3. Miliaria profunda

  • It is not common in children and might develop if miliaria rubra is ignored.
  • Flesh-colored larger bumps appear on the skin.
  • They itch a little (2).

These might require a visit to the doctor. But what causes heat rashes in children?

Causes Of Heat Rashes

A heat rash occurs due to the trapping of sweat within the sweat pores, and the blocking the sweat gland. Here are a few reasons which might cause blockage of the sweat pores.

  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 (4).
  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 (5).
  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 (6).

Heat rash, also known as prickly heat and miliaria, would get resolved within three to four days as soon as your child’s body cools down. However, it can cause itching and prickliness that could irritate the children. Read on to how you may speed up the healing process.

Home Care And Prevention Of Heat Rashes In Children

Most cases of prickly heat do not require a visit to a doctor or medication. You can take remedial steps at home when you notice heat rash. These home care tips focus on preventing the accumulation of sweat and cooling your child’s body.

  1. Dress in fewer layers of clothing: Heat rashes might 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 allows ventilation.
  • If your child has a heat rash, you could consider letting them wear only 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 or shower gel.
  • Keep the water cool to touch and not too cold since that can cause chills.
  • Pat dry the skin with an absorbent towel and let the child stand under a fan to allow the rest of the water to dry.
  • Cool baths might 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 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, thus mitigating the chances of prickly heat.
  1. Plenty of liquids:

If the itching is severe, then make an appointment with your child’s doctor.

When To Take A Child To A Doctor?

If the rashes do not subside with three to four days and 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

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What can be mistaken for heat rash in children?

Eczema in younger children and urticaria are commonly mistaken for heat rash in children, as these conditions are often aggravated by heat (7).

2. What cream is best for heat rash in children?

1% hydrocortisone cream could help relieve irritation due to heat rashes. However, consult a doctor before its usage to avoid side effects (8).

3. Is aloe vera good for heat rash in children?

Yes. Aloe vera has soothing healing properties, which can provide relief from itching and heat rashes in children and adults (9).

Heat rashes in children are mainly caused by humidity and excessive sweating. Although they get resolved by themselves within a few days, if your child shows signs of fever, loss of appetite, and the blisters start to produce pus, contact the doctor immediately. Doctors may advise you to dress your child in light and breezy clothes and not overdo the layers as they might increase the risks of heat rash. Also, keep your child in a cool and breezy environment and keep them hydrated to aid their recovery from the rashes.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Karla C. Guerra; Karthik Krishnamurthy; Miliaria; NCBI
2. Manju Nagpal, et al.; Miliaria-An Update; Research Gate
3. Sudhir Dixit, Ashish Jain, Suhas Datar, and V.K. Khurana; Congenital miliaria crystallina – A diagnostic dilemma; NCBI(2012)
4. A. Gilman, Miliaria Crystallina; Stanford Medicine
5. Carter R 3rd, Garcia AM, and Souhan BE; Patients presenting with miliaria while wearing flame resistant clothing in high ambient temperatures: a case series; NCBI(2011)
6. Andrew W. Nichols; Heat-related illness in sports and exercise; NCBI(2014)7. Jordyn Imhoff; How to Manage Your Summer Rash; University of Michigan
8. Heat Rash; Seattle Children’s Hospital
9. Top 10 Home Remedies for Prickly Heat; JKYog Natural Cure
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Rohit Garoo

Rohit Garoo did MBA from Osmania University and holds a certificate in Developmental Psychology from The University of Queensland. The zoologist-botanist turned writer-editor has over 8 years of experience in content writing, content marketing, and copywriting. He has also done an MBA in marketing and human resources and worked in the domains of market research and e-commerce. Rohit writes topics... more

Dr. Gabriela Ambriz Gonzalez

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Dr. Gabriela Ambriz González attends to her patients in Colonia Jardines del Country in the City of Guadalajara, Jalisco. She completed her Bachelor's Degree as a surgeon and midwife at the University of Guadalajara. Later, she studied pediatrics at the Mexican Institute of Social Security and Pediatric Surgery at CMNO IMSS at the University of Guadalajara.  Dr. Gonzalez also did... more

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