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Heat rashes are common in babies in hot and humid countries. Though heat rashes can be bothersome, they are treatable and you can easily get rid of them. Learn to detect heat rashes in babies and discover the causes, symptoms and treatment.
Video: Heat Rash in Babies
What is Heat Rash?
Heat rash is also called Miliaria Rubra, Miliaria Crystallina, summer rash or prickly heat. As the name suggests, heat rashes are little, red bumps that show up on your baby’s skin as a result of excessive body heat.
Some of the places where heat rashes appear are the stomach, chest, neck, buttocks, and around the crotch. If you make your baby wear a hat, heat rashes can appear on the forehead and the scalp as well. Baby rash on the neck is also common. If you see a heat rash in your baby, it is important first relieve the itchiness associated with it.
What Do Heat Rashes Look Like?
Heat rashes are tiny bumps that are red in colour. They usually appear in clusters on different parts of the body.
Causes of Heat Rash?
Heat rashes will appear if your baby sweats a lot. Due to excessive sweating, the pores of his skin get clogged, and sweat cannot come out. Children and babies are more prone to heat rashes, as their pores are smaller, as compared to adults.
If you live in hot and humid weather conditions, your baby is likely to get heat rashes. Heat rashes can appear during winter, too, if your baby has a fever or if you make him wear too many layers of clothing.
Is Heat Rash Painful for Babies?
Heat rashes are generally not painful for the baby. They usually cause only mild discomfort. However, this depends on the severity of the heat rash. If the rash is deep, then it could end up being painful if the child constantly keeps scratching it.
It is important to understand that babies will not be able to communicate in any way other than crying. This is why you will need to constantly pay attention to the baby’s skin and look for signs to ensure that he is not in any discomfort. An extreme heat rash that is a consequence of overheating could even lead to a stroke.
Symptoms of Miliaria in Babies
Heat rashes or miliaria look like tiny red pimples on your baby’s skin. Other symptoms include itchiness, crankiness and crying. Heat rashes get irritated by scratching or clothes. A secondary infection might also appear, though this is rare.
How to Diagnose Heat Rash in a Child
Miliaria can easily be identified and usually does not need medical care. However, if the rashes do not go away in three to four days or your baby develops fever, make sure you call the doctor.
If your baby has rashes, be careful about these signs:
- Increased redness, pain, swelling, or warmth around the rashes
- Pus formation
- Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, arm or groin
- The appearance of red streaks on the affected area
Risk Factors for Heat Rash in Babies
There are certain factors that put babies at risk for developing a heat rash.
1. Living in a Hot Climate
Hot and humid weather leads to overheating of the body, causing a heat rash. Moreover, humidity causes the baby to sweat and develop a heat rash. If you live in a hot climate, make sure to take adequate precautions to ensure your baby does not develop a heat rash.
2. Restrictive Clothing
Dressing your baby up in thick clothing or fabrics that trap heat can lead to a heat rash. Dress your baby according to the weather and avoid fabric such as nylon or rayon. Instead, opt for cotton, which is soft and breathable.
Swaddling in the hot weather can trap heat and lead to a heat rash. Avoid swaddling your child for long periods of time.
4. Nearby Heat Sources
Keeping a heat source such as a lamp or heater near the baby also causes a heat rash. Keep the baby in cool environment and choose cool lights around the house.
There is no specific treatment for heat rashes. However, you can do the following to give your baby relief from the symptoms associated with red rash on baby:
1. Reduce the Heat
Remove your baby’s clothing or loosen it. Bathe the baby in cool water to get rid of the sweat and clear the pores. You can also wipe the body with clean and wet washcloths. This will bring down the temperature of the skin as well.
2. Keep the Skin Dry
Do not use a towel to dry your baby’s skin. Let it dry naturally and take the help of a fan to cool the baby down. Do not use ointments or cream for heat rash, unless the paediatrician has asked you to do so.
3. Allow the Skin to Breathe
This is an important aspect of baby care that many parents neglect. You need to ensure that your baby’s skin is exposed to natural air as much as possible. Keep him naked or make him wear something soft and loose.
Home Remedies for Prickly Heat
You can also use the following home remedies to treat skin rashes in babies:
1. Ice Cubes
Rubbing ice cubes on the rashes can do wonders. Wrap some ice cubes in cloth and gently press on the rashes. Do not keep it pressed for a long time.
2. Baking Soda
Baking soda has mild exfoliant,anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which help to treat and prevent acne and rash over the skin. Make a solution of baking soda and water. Dip a washcloth in the solution and use the cloth to wipe the affected area. This will ease the symptoms considerably. You can also bathe your baby with a bucket of water containing 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
Oats helps to absorb excess oil from the skin. It has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and it contains saponins which are natural skin cleansers. Add one cup of oatmeal (powdered) in a bathtub of water and bathe your baby with this. The water will turn milky once you add the oatmeal to it. Make sure to use organic oatmeal and not the ones that come with preservatives. Bathe your baby for 15-20 mins and pat him dry.
4. Sandalwood Powder
Sandalwood has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, is a mild skin exfoliant, and has essential oils that nourish and moisturise the skin. It helps in cooling down your baby’s skin and reducing itchiness. Make a paste with equal parts of rose water and sandalwood powder. Apply this over the rashes to reduce the symptoms.
5. Fuller’s Earth
Fuller’s earth absorbs excess oil from skin, helps to improve blood circulation & skin tone which helps to treat and prevent prickly heat and rashes. All you need to do is make a thick paste with fuller’s earth and rose water. Then apply the paste on the rashes to see your baby get instant relief from the itching.
Make a smooth paste by grinding neem leaves and apply that paste on the affected area. Let the paste dry and rinse with cold water.
7. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel is also known to offer relief from heat rashes. If you have an Aloe Vera plant at home, you can scoop out the gel from the leaves yourself. If you are buying it off the shelf, make sure to use organic aloe vera gel without any preservatives or chemicals. You can safely apply this gel to soothe baby heat rash on the face as well as other body parts
Cut one cucumber into numerous slices and put the slices on your baby’s skin. You can also grind the cucumber and apply the paste on the rashes for immediate cooling.
How to Prevent Heat Rash
Here are some ways by which you can prevent common heat rash among babies:
- Keep your baby away from the scorching rays of the sun. Keep him indoors in air-conditioned rooms especially during peak heat times. When you take him out, ensure that he is in a shaded area. Also, ensure that your baby is well-hydrated
- Always dress him in comfortable and loose-fitting clothes, especially during the summer. Cotton is the way to go.
- Commercially available disposable diapers are made up of PVC plastic along with other components which prevent heat evaporation from the skin and cause prickly heat and rashes.
- Areas like the neck, armpits, and crotch tend to get sweaty. Wash these areas with cool water and ensure that they are dry
- Check if your baby is overheating at regular intervals. If his skin feels damp and warm, it is time to give him a shower or cool the skin down with a washcloth
- Make the baby sleep in an air-conditioned room or have a fan installed in the room. The fan or the air conditioner should not be directed to your baby. Just make sure that a gentle breeze reaches him while he sleeps.
Living in tropical, humid regions always increases the chances of heat rash. As babies are too young to communicate, they may not be able to express their discomfort during the onset of the heat rash. It is up to the parents to scan the entire body of the baby and remain vigilant. In case your baby comes down with a heat rash, the tips shared above will help you take corrective action.
Also Read: Diaper Rash in Babies