Topical over the counter steroids can be used for treating heat rashes or sweat rashes. Not only can steroids help control painful itching and burning associated with summer skin rashes; they can considerably improve the patient’s quality of life. In this article, we will cover how to use topical steroidal prickly heat rash treatment as well as the best brands you can use to soothe heat rash or sweat rash.
What are topical steroids?
Commonly available topical steroids contain corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone, triamcinolone or fluocinonide. These can help reduce skin inflammation caused by various skin disorders including bug bites, poison ivy, sweat rashes, prickly heat rash, contact dermatitis or eczema. They work by reducing the skin cells’ ability to produce inflammatory chemicals which are typically released due to different triggers such as allergens, insect bites, poison, heat, dirt and sweat.
What is the strongest over the counter topical steroid?
Over the counter topical corticosteroids for sweat rash treatment are available in the form of creams, gels, lotions or ointments. The strongest topical steroids are ointments since they have a greasy base that adheres better to the skin. Ointments also have lowest stinging, burning and other painful reactions when they come in contact with the skin. Today, many over the counter topical steroids brands are available in the form of sprays, solutions and other complex formulations.
The strength of topical steroids is determined by different classes with Class 1 steroids being the most potent and Class 7 being the least potent.
Can over the counter topical steroids cure heat rash?
The answer to this question is no. Topical steroids are not a cure for heat rash and they only provide symptomatic relief from the pain, itching and burning associated with the rash. Also, it is not advisable to use strong steroidal creams on the skin for more than a few days at a time. This is because; the steroids thin down delicate skin, especially in case of babies. Do avoid application of strong topical steroids on the heat rash present on the face since the rashes can also worsen from prolonged use. The best way to treat heat rashes is to keep the skin cool. Here are some more heat rash prevention tips:
- Stay indoors. Avoid the hot sun in peak hours between 10 am and 2 pm.
- Wear a wide brimmed hat. Seek shade under a tree or a building where possible.
- Drink plenty of water to keep the body cool inside out.
- Take a cool shower.
- Keep the skin cool and dry.
- If the prickly heat is causing extreme discomfort, apply Calamine Lotion or Aloe Vera gel on it.
- You can use topical steroidal cream, but do opt for lowest potency creams. OTC 1% hydrocortisone is the best. We will discuss some of the best over the counter topical corticosteroids brands that are mild yet effective for prickly heat treatment, later in this guide.
Safest over the counter topical steroid cream
For babies older than 3 months you can use the following steroidal treatment
- 01% Flucinolone acetonide in oil base.
- 05% desonnide hydrogel is also safe for use as prickly heat rash treatment.
It is best to consult the baby’s pediatrician before using over the counter topical steroid creams for baby’s gentle skin.
For children over 1 year, the following categories of steroid creams and gels are relative safer:
- 05% Fluticasone in lotion or cream form.
- 1% Prednicarbate cream or ointment
Top over the counter topical steroids brands for sweat rash treatment
Mid strength brands (Class 4)
- Cloderm® Cream-contains clocortolone pivalate
- Synalar® ointment- contains 0.025% fluocinolone acetonide
- Valisone ® ointment- contains 0.1% betamethasone valerate
Lower strength brand (Class 5)
- Elocon® cream contains 0.1% mometasone furoate
Mild strength (Class 6)
- Aristocort® cream contains 0.025% triamcinolone acetonide
Least potent (Class 7)
- Nutracort®- lotion contains 2% or 2.5% hydrocortisone.
- Cortaid® cream or spray contains 0.5 to 1% hydrocortisone.
The above medicines can be used safely for prickly heat treatment. However, do talk to your dermatologist if these are safe for long term use, and particularly for treating heat rash in babies. If the rash continues or appears to worsen, have it checked immediately.