The humid and warm conditions that cause the child to sweat are responsible for causing heat rash or prickly heat. When children sweat excessively, the skin pores are blocked, thus resulting to rashes. Using ointments that trap moisture on the skin can also lead to the development of heat rash.
The heat rash appears as small-sized bumps and even blisters in some cases. It is important to note that the bumps appear red, especially among children with fair skin. The heat rash can be worsened by using diapers or if the child is overdressed especially when bundled up during the winter season. The rash is not considered as a serious condition but an overheated child can end up with serious issues such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Wash the skin of the child in cool water without soap every 2-3 hours and then allow the skin to air dry. For small-sized spots of heat rash, they can be managed with a cold compress that must be applied 5-10 minutes every few hours. The child can also be bathed in lukewarm water with 2 teaspoons of baking soda per gallon of water.
- Turn on an air conditioner or fan in the room of the child to help air circulate as well as keeping the room cool. Always make sure that the airflow is in the direction of the child, but not directly on him/her.
- Dab on a 1% hydrocortisone cream over the itchy areas only. You can apply the cream up to 3 times daily. In case hydrocortisone cream is not available, you can also use calamine lotion instead.
- Make sure that the child is dressed in loose-fitting clothes or remove the clothes to allow the skin to breathe. Always make sure that the child stays in a shaded area where he/she can cool off.
- A child over 1 year of age can be covered with a cotton towel to help absorb the perspiration from the skin.
Considerations to bear in mind
It is not recommended to utilize ointment as a substitute for hydrocortisone cream. Remember that ointments and other forms of heavy lotions can clog up the pores in the skin.
In some cases of heat rash, it might require medical care. A doctor should be consulted if the rash has no indications of healing after 3 days or if the child develops the following conditions along with the rashes:
- Oozing, wet or reddened areas that indicate infection
- Rash spreads outside the diaper area
- Worsening of the rashes in skin creases
For children below 3 months old who end up with heat rash, it is vital to seek medical care right away.
In case the child scratches the heat rash, you have to clip his/her fingernails or place socks on his/her hands at night time to protect the rashes from getting irritated that can worsen the condition.