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How to treat heat rash

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, pets...

Fix it fast

Some call it heat rash, some call it prickly heat. No matter what you call it, it’s no fun. Here’s how to treat it.

Fix it fast

Heat rash, sometimes called prickly heat, happens when your pores or sweat ducts get blocked. It occurs when you dress too hot for the weather, from physical activity, or when you get overheated. You usually find it anywhere clothing touches, especially on babies and it's very common in folds of the skin, on the chest, armpits and in the groin area.


Heat rash takes on different forms. Sometimes it's small red bumps on the skin, and sometimes it's very large red lumps. Sometimes there is no red at all, it's just a place that has stopped sweating, while everywhere around it still is. Sometimes, heat rash can cause extreme itching or a prickly feeling.

What to do

The first thing you should do for someone with heat rash is remove them from the heat. If you can, bring them inside to an air-conditioned room, or get them to a shaded area if that isn't possible. Once the skin is cool, the rash will usually begin to clear up on its own.

Use cold compresses to help skin cool quicker, and let the skin air dry instead of patting it dry with a towel.

If the skin still itches after some time, apply a calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching. Stay away from any other lotions, creams or topical treatments because they can make the rash much worse instead of better.

What to watch for

In most cases, heat rash goes away just as quickly as it appeared, but you should still keep your eye on it for a day or two. Some things to watch for include:

• Pain or swelling that gets worse, not better
• Increasing redness or warmth, even after the skin has cooled
• Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, groin or armpits
• Drainage of puss
• Fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit
• Chills

If the heat rash doesn't go away in two or three days, call your doctor.


Stop heat rash in its tracks by taking some preventative measures. Wear loose clothing, and dress lightly in warm weather. Stay in the shade if you have to be outside on hot days, and avoid using thick lotions and creams that can block your pores.


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