Heat rash, prickly heat, miliaria – whatever you want to call it, it’s not fun for your baby or for you. Luckily, it’s more uncomfortable than it is serious, and quite easy to take care of.
What is heat rash?
If you and your baby have made it through an Australian summer, you’ll be well-versed in sweating, and this is where our journey begins.
We sweat through pores (or sweat ducts). When these pores/ducts are blocked, they trap sweat beneath the skin which causes skin discoloration, blisters, or lumps. It can range in severity, from mild irritation and itchiness to infection and fever.
Around 15% of newborns will experience heat rash.
What conditions cause heat rash?
Heat and humidity – perfect sweating weather!
Skin folds – places where your pores are more likely to get blocked, where your sweat has less chance of escaping, and where the most amount of skin-to-skin friction would occur. This is especially true for babies and their multitude of skin folds, especially around the neck.
Friction and clothing – wearing excessive clothing in hot temperatures, or sweating in synthetic clothes, can block or damage pores, leading to heat rash.
Bed stay – long periods spent in sheets, like when immobile or sick, can cause heat rash, in much the same way that friction and clothing can.
Immature sweat ducts – baby’s sweat ducts are developing with the rest of them, and in cases of heat, their pores may not be able to handle intense heat.
What are the types of heat rash?
There are three types of heat rash:
Mild | Miliaria crystallina – appears as clear blisters that can be removed through gentle friction, like wiping with a moist towel.
Moderate | Miliaria rubra – appears as bumpy spots that can bring on feelings of irritation and itchiness. May result in rash and pimple-like blisters.
Severe | Miliaria profunda – appears as papules (elevation in the skin with no liquid), and occurs deeper in the flesh that crystallina and rubra. The feeling is generally described as burning rather than itching.
How to take care of heat rash
Usually, heat rash will resolve itself. However, there are some simple ways to prevent and take care of heat rash:
Preventing heat rash – Staying out of direct contact of the sun on hot days, making sure your baby isn’t wearing excessive or uncomfortable materials, and keeping them properly hydrated can help prevent heat rash from occurring.
Taking care of heat rash – Cleaning your baby in lukewarm water or rubbing them down gently with a cool towel can usually take care of the blisters and subsequent rash. Your GP will be able to advise on creams if you feel extra attention is called for.
When you should take your baby to the doctor – If your baby appears unwell, feverish, is difficult to rouse, if the rash does not blanch or you are seriously concerned about them, you should seek urgent medical attention. Otherwise if your baby’s blisters develop green pus, or their rash hasn’t cleared after a few days, you should take them to a GP.
Health Direct - Heat Rash
Mayo Clinic - Heat Rash Symptoms and Causes
The Australian College of Dermatologists - Miliaria All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.