Heat rash

Prickly heat rash (or ‘sweat rash’) as it is more commonly known often develops on babies who have become overheated, especially on a hot and humid day.

Adults too can develop this but babies are more prone due to the fact that their sweat glands are less efficient at regulating their temperature. Babies have smaller pores on their skin than adults which mean that these pores clog up more easily, thus preventing moisture leaving the skin and so heat rash occurs. Your baby is more likely to develop heat rash in the summer although it can occur in the winter months, particularly if your baby is wearing several layers of clothing.

Heat rash can also occur in babies with a fever or if a baby has a cough ointment rubbed on his/her chest.

Symptoms of heat rash

Heat rash develops as a series of small red blisters or bumps on the skin. Children and adults can also be affected but this is much more common in babies. This rash appears on the chest, stomach, neck, buttocks and groin. In fact it can develop in any fold of skin and those areas of the body where clothing rubs against. If your baby wears a hat then sweat rash can develop on his/her forehead and/or scalp.

These spots are accompanied by a stinging sensation and are often itchy.

Causes of heat rash

Babies have smaller skin pores than adults which mean that these are less efficient than adult skin pores at removing sweat. Sweat then becomes trapped in these pores and results in heat rash. Another factor is that sweat glands in babies are much less developed than those in adults.

If your baby has a temperature or is wearing too many layers of clothes then this can also cause heat rash.

Is this painful?

No. Heat rash isn’t painful but it can be itchy. Some of the spots may be sore to touch but do not cause any pain to your baby.

Treatment of heat rash

Start by cooling your baby down. Loosen or remove his/her clothing and place him/her in the shade. Place damp cloths on your baby’s skin and let him/her dry in the air rather than patting him/her dry with a towel. Do not apply any creams, lotions or ointments to his/her skin.

In the summer (and if it is hot!), place a fan in your baby’s bedroom to cool him/her down. Place this near but not directly facing him/her to avoid your baby catching a chill.

Put cotton mittens on your baby’s hands to stop him/her from scratching at this rash.

Complications of heat rash

If your baby’s heat rash has worsened or he/she is running a high temperature then see your GP.

Can you prevent heat rash in your baby?

Keep your baby cool on warm or hot days by dressing him/her in loose, cotton clothing. Ensure that he/she has plenty to drink and place him/her in the shade if it is too hot.

Check on your baby at regular intervals to ensure that he/she is not overheating.

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