Summers are here and the temperature is already soaring high. Sweat rash or prickly rash is one of the most common skin problem you face in scorching heat of summers. In this post, we would discuss about sweat rash or prickly rash and how to get rid of it.

Dr. Monika Misra

MBBS, MD, Consultant cosmetologist at Dermacosm Clinic

What is sweat rash or prickly rash?


Prickly heat or sweat rash (also called miliaria), is an itchy rash that appears as small, raised red spots causing intense stinging or prickling sensation on the skin. It usually develops during continuous exposure to hot or humid climate. These rashes are commonly present on the body folds like neck, armpits, folds of elbow, groin and knees. However, it can occur anywhere on the body, if you are wearing tight fitting clothes that prevents air circulation and evaporation of sweat.

How does prickly heat rash develop?


There are numerous sweat glands on your skin surface. Factors that trigger development of prickly rash include excessive sweating in hot and humid climate or blockade of sweat glands. Excess sweat or trapped sweat (due to blockade of these glands) seeps into the adjacent skin surface, irritates and causes inflammation and rash.

Some risk factors are:

  • Excessive sweating due to exposure to hot and humid climate or strenuous excercise.
  • Some people are more prone to develop prickly rash than others. It might be due to harmless bacteria thriving on skin surface that produce a sticky substance that combines with sweat and dead skin cells and blocks sweat glands
  • Babies and new borns are more prone to develop prickly rash, as their sweat glands are not fully developed. Their sweat glands are narrow and easily blocked.
  • Obese individuals are more prone to develop prickly rash. Skin folds in obese individuals prevent evaporation of sweat from skin surface.
  • Illness and immobility can also increase risk on developing prickly rash.
  • It can also develop if you wear too much of clothes preventing sufficient evaporation of sweat from surface.

What should be done to prevent prickly rash?


  • Avoid staying in areas with excessive hot and humid weather. If not possible, stay in air conditioned room as much as possible.
  • Wear loose- fitting cotton clothes that allow circulation of air on the surface of skin to facilitate evaporation of sweat
  • Keep you skin cool. Take frequent showers with cool water.
  • Do not overdress children in hot climate, as they are more prone to prickly rash
  • Leave babies out of nappy or diaper as long as possible
  • Obese people who are prone to develop prickly rash should pull open their skin folds while resting, to allow air circulation and evaporation of sweat.
  • Posture of immobile or bed ridden individuals should be changed to avoid prickly rash and pressure sores. Avoid plastic bedsheets and warm beddings in such individuals
  • Avoid heavy moisturisers as ointments or creams that block sweat glands. Use thin lotion based make up if required.

How to treat prickly rash?


Prickly rash is not a serious condition, it disappears on its own even without any specific treatment in a few days.

Things you should follow to ease symptoms of prickly rash include:

  • On the affected areas, apply soothing or anti itch preparations like calamine lotion or camphor or menthol based creams
  • Apply prickly heat talcum powder on affected area. Prickly heat powder is usually used after bath as an antiseptic and absorbent dusting powder. The powder contains ingredients that adsorb sweat and have a drying effect. This minimise friction between skin surface and reduce irritation.Menthol present in these powder has a cooling effect that alleviates irritation and itching. Topical antiseptics (like Triclosan or chloroxylenol) present in talcum powder, prevent secondary infection of affected area.
  • Take frequent bathing with cool water or use cool compresses on affected area. You can use anti bacterial soap for bathing.
  • Do not towel dry your skin, let it air dry
  • Do not apply lotions or ointments that can further blog pores
  • Drink excess water stay hydrated
  • If it does not improve even after following above measures or if red bumps become painful, filled with pus due to secondary bacterial infection. This warrants visit to a dermatologist.
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Here is a recommended article for you to read:

Top 7 summer skin care tips

Apart from the incessant heat, the summers bring in many skin problems. But there’s no reason to worry. A good skin care routine can deal with most of these problems. In this article, we would discuss summer skin care tips to keep your skin glowing and healthy in summers too.

Read more

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Dr Monika Misra

Consultant cosmetologist at Dermacosm clinic
Dr Monika Misra is a consultant cosmetologist at Dermacosm clinic. She possesses more than 5 years of experience in dermatosurgical procedures, chemical peels, microneedling, and radiofrequency.
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