Perspiration is a natural body function that serves to cool the body. However, when sweat glands are blocked by dirt or even dead skin cells, perspiration is unable to evaporate naturally. This results to heat rash, often called prickly heat rash, because of the prickly sensation that it causes.
Prickly heat rash (also called miliaria rubra) is often caused by exposure to extremely hot and humid weather. It can also appear on babies wearing diapers or small children who are overdressed with warm clothes. A sudden rise in temperature and too much exposure to the sun or being in heated environments are often what causes prickly heat rash.
In most cases, prickly heat rash occur on the places of the body that are naturally warmer. The underarms and skin folds on the arms, breast, legs and stomach (especially for people who are obese) are the areas that are usually prone to prickly heat rash.
Treating Prickly Heat Rash
Usually, keeping the body fresh and cool is the best way to treat prickly heat rash. Taking frequent cold showers or bath can help in preventing the spread of prickly heat rash to other parts of the body.
For babies and small children with prickly heat rash, a doctor may suggest topical medications which contain hydrocortisone that can help in reducing inflammation. In some cases, washing with an antibacterial/antifungal bath soap can also relieve the itchiness and the swelling. Creams and lotions that are to be used in treating prickly heat rash should not be oil-based, as oil will only further block the sweat glands.
When the prickly heat rash gets infected or keeps recurring, a doctor should be consulted immediately. A patient may be at risk for blood infection, if recurring prickly heat rash is not attended to immediately. If the infection is severe, the doctor may also prescribe antibiotics.
A more severe case of prickly heat rash, called miliaria profunda may also develop. A common sign of this condition is when the rashes produce a burning sensation, and the rash on the skin is white in color, instead of red. This means the body can no longer cool itself down normally, thus the infection gets more severe. When this happens the person can also be at risk for heatstroke, because the body temperature also increases.
Understanding what causes prickly heat rash will enable you to recognize its signs and provide relief to it immediately. Remember to consult your doctor if the rash does not get better despite applying medications on it.