Heat rash or prickly heat is also known as miliaria. It mainly appears on the body when the skin is exposed to high temperatures and humid conditions in summer. Contrary to expectations though, heat rash in winter season is also quite common.
Let us study how to deal with heat rash in winter season.
How does heat rash in winter season occur?
Heat rash is mainly caused due to blocked sweat glands. The ducts through which the sweat trickles out onto the skin get clogged, as a result of which, there is no outlet for it. As a result, the sweat remains trapped in the layers of the skin. This gives rise to irritation in the form of prickly heat or heat rash.
Signs and symptoms of heat rash
Heat rash in winter season is more common in babies. This is owing to the fact that they are heavily bundled or wrapped up in layers of blankets, sweaters and other warm clothes. Constant use of diapers can also lead to heat rashes on the baby’s bottom. These conditions lead to excessive sweating which form clogged sweat ducts. The signs of heat rash are:
- Clusters of fluid filled blisters on the folds of skin under the arms, elbow creases, chest, neck, back and upper abdomen.
- The rash might come and go over a period of few hours.
- It is extremely itchy and uncomfortable causing a great deal of discomfort to the child.
- Babies might scratch the rash leading to secondary skin infections. These are harder to treat and might need prescription antibiotics or steroidal creams for healing.
Learn how to stop winter heat rashes
- Do not use any ointments or heavy lotions on the baby’s skin as these tend to trap moisture and aggravate the heat rash.
- Heat rash is usually not a serious condition, but, if left untreated, it can lead to overheating of the body causing heat exhaustion or heat strokes.
- Untreated heat rash in winter season can be extremely itchy. The child must be stopped from scratching itself, as this could lead to skin infections. The use of gloves can help prevent this. Also ensure clipping the child’s nails to prevent this.
- The baby should be kept as cool as possible. Wash its skin in warm water without soap, every few hours.
- Apply a cold compress to the irritated parts of the skin to soothe the rash.
- Bathe the child in warm water to which some baking soda has been added. This is very effective in soothing inflammation.
- Colloidal oatmeal powder added to bath water can also help reduce itchiness and inflammation.
- Aloe Vera gel and calamine lotion are some other effective home remedies for treating heat rash in winter season.
- Run an air conditioner or a fan in the baby’s room to keep the air circulation up. You must ensure keeping the air flow away from the baby so that s/he does not get too cold.
- Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream available over the counter to reduce pain and itchiness.
- Dress the baby in comfortable cotton clothing to absorb sweat. You can use cotton wraps to lay the child upon or wrap it in.
Most heat rashes are not serious. But you should not hesitate in contacting a doctor if it does not improve within 3-4 days of occurrence. Likewise, seek medical help if the rash has spread or appears blistered or is accompanied by fever and other signs of discomfort.
Heat rash in winter season is rare, but in event it does occur, do use these guidelines to stop it in its tracks.