Texas summers are well-known for their heat and humidity – two weather conditions that make heat rash more likely in babies, toddlers and even older children. Nnenna Agim, M.D., Division Director of Dermatology at Children's Health℠ and Associate Professor at UT Southwestern, shares tips for helping your child avoid this prickly rash – and what to do if it appears.
What causes heat rash?
Heat rash is exactly what it sounds like – a rash caused by heat. Also called prickly heat and miliaria, heat rash occurs when pores or sweat ducts become blocked. This can happen when a child is dressed too warmly, exercises too intensely or simply sweats too much due to very hot weather.
"As implied in the name, excessively high temperatures are the trigger, as the sweat generated blocks skin pores causing the rash," explains Dr. Agim.
Pores in folds of the skin are more likely to get blocked due to heat and rubbing. That's why babies and toddlers with extra skin rolls are more prone to develop heat rash than older children.
What does heat rash look like?
Heat rash looks like tiny bumps or blisters that can appear red or inflamed. Heat rash is more common in skin folds around the neck, armpits or diaper area, and can also appear on the chest and back.
How do I treat heat rash on babies and toddlers?
You don't need any medicines to get rid of heat rash. The best treatment for heat rash is simply to cool down your little one.
Cooling your child will help the rash and itchiness to go away quickly. You can strip them down to a diaper, use cool washcloths to soothe their skin or take them inside a cooled and ventilated home.
Do not apply ointments such as calamine lotion to your child's heat rash. This will further block skin pores, worsening the rash and irritation.
How do I prevent my child from getting a heat rash?
The best way to prevent heat rash is to help your child stay cool, both indoors and out. "Heat rash is not common where good ventilation and proper dressing practices are present," says Dr. Agim.
Follow these tips to help prevent heat rash:
- Dress babies and toddlers in a single layer of light-colored cotton clothing
- During outdoor activities, seek shade, hydrate frequently and remove extra layers of clothing
- Carry portable fans and/or misters with clean water for evaporative cooling
- Make sure your home air conditioning unit is serviced regularly to ensure peak performance
- Do not leave a child to sleep in a baby carrier, car seat or stroller
By taking these steps to keep your child cool, you can help them avoid heat rash all summer long, no matter how hot Texas gets.
Children's Health is by your side keeping your family healthy and safe this summer. See more summer safety tips.
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