Heat rash and eczema are the most common skin conditions faced by hundreds of thousands of individuals the world over. Babies especially tend to suffer from different types of skin rashes owing to their sensitive skin. Often times; such rashes leave parents confused as many cannot tell heat rash vs. eczema differences, and understandably so, since both skin conditions are very similar having more or less the same symptoms.
So, in this guide, we will study the main differences between heat rash vs. eczema, their signs and symptoms as well as ways to treat them effectively.
Heat rash vs. Eczema: What is your baby suffering from?
Heat rash signs and symptoms in babies
Heat rash is mainly caused due to clogged sweat glands. This occurs when a baby has been swaddled too tightly in blankets or sweaters in winters or due to high heat and humidity in the summers. The rash is mainly seen on certain areas of the body including elbow creases, on the chest and torso, in the folds of the skin between the thighs, groin etc. The rash often spreads causing an intense discomfort for the baby. The child’s skin may be warm to touch and it might even try to scratch the rash. This should be prevented using socks on the hands and trimming the baby’s nails in order to prevent secondary skin infections.
To summarize the signs of heat rashes in babies:
- Red blisters or tiny bumps in the folds of the skin around the upper chest, in the creases of elbows or knees, on parts of the neck and upper back etc.
- The rash might appear to spread- it can be intensely itchy causing discomfort to the child.
- The child might run a fever and could be cranky or irritable.
Eczema signs and symptoms
Eczema is a common skin rash with different symptoms in different sufferers. In most cases, it appears on the face, cheeks, neck, arms, legs or other clothed areas. The main difference of heat rash vs. eczema is that the latter is usually a result of allergens present in the baby’s environment. These typically include dust, detergents used for washing the baby’s clothing or certain soaps/lotions used on it.
To summarize the signs of eczema rash in babies:
- Eczema rashes have different presentation in different babies. Typically it may be in the form of red bumps like those of a heat rash or, conversely, it might be a dry scaly and itchy rash around the face, mouth, eyes, neck, upper body, arms, legs etc.
- Babies who tend to drool could also experience eczema on the chin and cheeks.
Treating a heat rash in baby
A heat rash generally tends to go away on its own within a couple of weeks. Compared to eczema, heat rashes heal a lot faster and one must simply let nature take its course. It is best not to apply anything on a heat rash as many products clog the sweat glands further aggravating the issue. However, if the child is too uncomfortable, you could try one of the following remedies.
- Keep the child’s skin as cool as possible. In case of winter heat rash, avoid wrapping or bundling the baby up too tight. In summer, avoid using diapers or nappies and let the baby remain unclothed for major part of the day.
- Bathe the baby using gentle products only. Oatmeal based soaps and lotions are generally considered the best remedies for soothing irritated and sensitive skin. Aveeno® has some excellent products and their baby range with lotions, shampoos and soaps are ideal for treating all kinds of skin rashes in babies.
- 1% Hydrocortisone cream is also ideal for soothing baby’s itchy and inflamed skin.
Treating mild eczema rash in baby
Eczema in babies could be a result of an allergic reaction to harsh products. So make sure you discontinue all kinds of harsh detergents, soaps etc you are using.
- If baby’s drooling is causing the eczema on its face, use some Aquaphor® or Vaseline to treat the areas just beneath the mouth on the cheeks and chin region. This will prevent the rash. 1% Hydrocortisone cream or breast milk applied to the eczema rash can also help soothe the pain and inflammation
- Many dermatologists prescribe mild cleansers for treating baby’s eczema. These include Dove® soap for sensitive skin, CeraVe® hydrating cleanser and lotion for the face, Cetaphil® gentle cleanser etc. All these products can be used for bathing and moisturizing the baby’s skin and keeping it free from bacteria.
If, despite these remedies, the baby’s heat rash vs. eczema rash is not showing signs of improvement, it is best to seek the advice of a dermatologist. Sometimes, what you might think is eczema or heat rash could be something more serious and it is best to not wait until the matters escalate further.