Prickly Heat – Causes, Home Remedies, Precautions & more

In summers, the problem of facing prickly heat is extremely common. One is especially at risk of prickly heat if the temperature in their region is extremely high. The most common problem of prickly heat is – prickly heat rashes. These rashes occur when one’s sweat glands are blocked. Prickly heat also causes irritation and itching. These rashes and irritation are sometimes intolerable and one gets agitated due to it. These rashes and irritation generally tend to spread over the back, arms, and neck. Prickly heat is also called miliaria. 

Causes

The common causes of prickly heat (miliaria) are:

  • When sweat glands become blocked, the sweat gets stored or piled up under the skin which leads to inflammation and heat rashes.
  • Wearing clothes made from synthetic fibres can prevent the process of sweating from evaporating.
  • Intensive exercising or working out that involves extreme sweating. When this sweat evaporates, it causes irritation and itching.
  • Using oil-based creams and cosmetics may lead to the blocking of sweat glands and cause rashes.
  • Babies are most prone to prickly heat because their sweat duct glands are underdeveloped. Hence, they are susceptible to quick blocking.  

20 Home Remedies to Treat Prickly Heat

Ice Cubes

Rub ice cubes in the areas where you have prickly heat rashes or sunburn. The coolness of ice cubes relaxes the burning sensation of the skin and provides relief.

Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal helps in clearing blocked sweat glands. This helps in providing relief from the itching and inflammation. For this remedy you will need: 

  • 2 cups of oatmeal,
  • Lukewarm water,   
  1. Mix the oatmeal in lukewarm water.
  2. Pour the water, bucket by bucket, on the areas where you have a rash.
  3. Let the oatmeal soak in your body for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Repeat this twice a week.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has antiseptic and antibacterial properties which provide relief to the rashes.

  1. Use one entire leaf of aloe vera plant or 3 tablespoons of aloe vera gel.
  2. Apply it on the areas where you have prickly heat rashes and massage them.
  3. Do this thrice a week. 

Chickpea Flour Paste

Chickpea flour acts as a cleanser for the skin. Hence, it removes all impurities from the skin and clears the pores in the skin that are clogged with sweat. This remedy provides relief from rashes and irritation. For this remedy, you will need:

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of chickpea flour,
  • 10 to 15 tablespoons of rose water. 
  1. Mix the chickpea flour and rose water together to form a thick paste.
  2. Apply the paste to the affected area and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Use cool water to wash off the paste after 15 minutes. 
  4. Use this paste every day for 2 weeks.

Baking Soda Paste

The antibacterial properties of baking soda help in preventing infections of the skin and relieve the pain caused by rashes. For this paste, you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda,
  • A bowl of rose water, and       
  • A washcloth.                             
  1. Make a solution of baking soda with rose water.
  2. Dip a clean washcloth in the solution and gently apply it to the areas that are affected by prickly heat rashes.
  3. Leave the washcloth on the rashes for about 2 minutes and then take it off.
  4. Do this twice a week.

Raw Potato Slices

Potatoes ease the itchy and prickly sensation of the rashes and soothe the skin. For this, you will only need

  • a few slices of raw potato.
  1. Apply these slices on the affected areas and keep them on for 15 minutes.
  2. Do this every day.

Watermelon Pulp

Watermelon soothes and cools the irritating sensation of rashes. It also contains antioxidants that heal the infection that is caused by prickly heat. You will need

  • watermelon pulp by de-seeding it
  1. Apply this on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Wash it off with plain water after 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Apply this twice every day.

Ginger Treatment

Ginger helps in decreasing the itchiness and the stinging of heat rashes with the help of its antiseptic qualities. For this remedy, you will need: 

  • A small piece of ginger (thumb size),
  • One bowl of water and,                     
  • A washcloth.                                       
  1. Grate the piece of ginger and boil it in the water.
  2. After the water has cooled down, damp a fresh washcloth into the water and apply it in the areas that are affected.
  3. Keep the washcloth on those areas for 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Do this once every day.

Camphor and Neem Paste

This remedy is extremely effective in treating prickly heat. Camphor will help in soothing and cooling the skin by minimizing the burning sensation. Neem oil, with the help of its antibacterial properties, will help in reducing itchiness and pain. For this remedy, you will need:

  • 1 camphor tablet, and
  • 5 drops of neem oil.  
  1. Crush the camphor tablet into powder.
  2. Now, mix this powder with the neem oil in a bowl.
  3. Apply this mixture to the affected area and keep it on for 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Do not rinse off the mixture after 20 minutes.
  5. You can apply this twice every day.

Henna Paste

Henna powder helps in cooling down the burning sensation caused by the heat rashes. For this remedy, you will need:

  • 3 teaspoons of henna powder, and             
  • 7 to 8 tablespoons of water or rose water.
  1. Mix the henna powder with the water or the rose water thoroughly. 
  2. Apply this paste to the affected areas and keep it on for 15 minutes.
  3. After 15 minutes, rinse the paste with cool plain water.
  4. Apply this once every week.

Lime or Lemon Juice

The antioxidants of lemon juice help quicken the healing process of heat rashes.

  1. You can drink one glass of lemon juice every day.

Honey

Honey also has antiseptic properties which soothe the itchy sensation caused by rashes. For this remedy, you will only need

  • raw honey
  1. Apply generous amounts of raw honey to the affected area.
  2. Keep it on for about 15 to 20 minutes. 
  3. Wash it off after 15 to 20 minutes with cool water.
  4. Repeat this twice a day.

Cucumber Slices

One can apply cucumber slices when the burning sensation of the heat rashes is unbearable as it helps in soothing. For this remedy you will need:

  • Half of a cucumber.
  1. Cut the cucumber into long slices and place it on the rashes.
  2. Keep them on for around 5 minutes.
  3. Apply cucumber slices every day on your rashes.

Papaya Puree

Papaya helps in unclogging the pores of the skin and fights infections. For this remedy, you will only need

  • one piece of ripe papaya
  1. Mash the papaya until it has a paste-like consistency.
  2. Apply this paste to the affected areas and keep it on for 10 minutes.
  3. Wash the paste with cool water after 10 minutes.
  4. Repeat this once every day.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil has antibiotic properties and helps in curing the bacteria that can be caused by scratching of the heat rashes. It also leads to soothing and relieves pain. For this remedy, you will need:

  • 5 drops of lavender oil, and
  • 5 drops of lukewarm water.
  1. Add the essential oil to the lukewarm water and mix them thoroughly.
  2. Apply this mixture to the affected areas and let the skin soak it. 
  3. Repeat this every day until your rashes are healed. 

Neem Paste

The antiseptic properties of neem are beneficial in healing heat rashes. For this remedy, you will need: 

  • A handful of dried neem leaves, and
  • A bowl of cool water.                      
  1. Blend the neem leaves with the water until it forms a paste-like consistency.
  2. Apply this paste in the area affected and leave it on for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse it off with cool water.

Cornstarch Powder

Cornstarch helps in absorbing excess sweat which prevents the pores from getting clogged.

  1. Sprinkle some cornstarch powder on the areas affected and leave it on for 10 minutes. 
  2. Then, rinse it off with cool water. 
  3. Apply this mixture whenever required. 

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil helps in nourishing and hydrating the skin. It helps in healing the rashes and reducing the burning sensations. 

  1. Apply generous amounts of coconut oil to the affected areas.
  2. Let the skin soak the oil and dry naturally. Do not rinse the oil after applying it.
  3. You can apply coconut oil whenever necessary.

Rose Water

Rosewater helps in refreshing and soothing the skin.

  1. Dab some rose water on the affected areas and let it soak in the skin.
  2. Repeat this twice every day.

Olive Oil

Olive oil nourishes the skin and soothes it. It helps in reducing the redness and itchiness caused by heat rashes. 

  1. Apply a few drops of olive oil to the affected area.
  2. Leave it on overnight.
  3. Apply it every night till your rashes are healed. 

Precautions

One should take the following precautions in order to avoid prickly heat rashes or sunburns:

  • Always wear natural fibre cotton clothes in summers and avoid synthetic clothes as much as possible.
  • Always apply lotion or sunscreen with SPF 15 before leaving the house during day time.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes as much as possible. 
  • Avoid eating spicy food as that creates heat in one’s stomach. This heat can lead to the appearance of acne and may cause more irritation to one’s skin.
  • Make sure to always be hydrated and drink enough water and fluids during summers, and especially during day time.
  • Avoid taking showers from hot water as it can lead to more irritation to one’s skin.
  • Avoid using skincare products that have chemical ingredients, this can lead to a further increase in skin allergies due to prickly heat.
  • If you already have rashes or sunburns due to excessive heat, avoid going out during the daytime till your rashes and sunburns are healed. Going out in the sun while suffering from prickly heat rashes or sunburns can further worsen the situation.

Myths and Facts 

MYTH FACTS
Heat rashes only occur in babies. This is false. Although babies are the most prone to get heat rashes, it can occur to anyone at any age. 
Baking soda is not beneficial in treating heat rashes. This is not true. Baking soda, because of the sodium bicarbonate in it, helps in reducing inflammation. It also helps in numbing the itchiness of the rashes.
Eating mangoes worsens one’s heat rashes. No. There is no scientific proof about whether mangoes worsen the condition of heat rashes. It is merely a myth.

OTC Products Effective for Prickly Heat

OTC products refer to those products that are safe and appropriate to use. The following products are effective in treating prickly heat:

  • Balmex Adult Care Rash Cream – This rash cream is effective in curing the itchiness caused by heat rashes. Just a thin coat of this cream on the affected area can provide great relief. It also does not leave a stain when applied.
  • Destin Rash Cream – Destin is the most reputed brand for the treatment of rashes in babies. It helps in treating and providing relief for rashes that are caused by diapers as well as heat. This cream is paraben-free and completely safe for babies.
  • Sudocrem Antiseptic Cream – This product is effective in treating rashes, bedsores, and sunburns. It is a vegetarian product. It is also effective for children and infants. It helps in treating diaper rashes as well. It is free of harmful chemicals and provides a soothing feeling when applied to the affected areas.
  • Avene Antirougeurs Fort – This is the best and the most effective product that helps in curing rashes. It improves the microcirculation of the skin and thus reduces the redness of the skin. One’s skin feels instant soothing when applied to the affected area. It helps in curing the rashes in less than a month’s time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the different kinds of prickly heat rashes (miliaria)? 

A:  There are three types of miliaria – 

  1. Clear (miliaria crystallina): This is the mildest form of heat rashes. In this form, the heat blisters aren’t itchy or painful.
  2. Red (miliaria rubra): This form of heat rashes leads to red and painful heat blisters. Infants are most prone to get infected with miliaria rubra. 
  3. Deep (miliaria profunda): This is a rare condition and does not occur until the temperatures are too high to tolerate. This occurs generally in adults when they frequently get heat rashes in a comparatively less period of time.

Q: What are the symptoms of prickly heat rashes?

A: The symptoms of heat rashes include –

  1. Increased pain, swelling, or redness around the area of the body that sweats a lot.
  2. Swollen lymph nodes around the areas of the neck, or armpits.
  3. Mild fever.
  4. Drainage or accumulation of puss around the area that is affected.

Q: When should one seek medical help for heat rashes?

A: Heat rashes generally go away after a week or two when you treat them with home remedies. However, it is possible for one to gain another skin infection which is caused due to excessive scratching of the rashes. For such infections, one may need antibiotics to cure them. Thus, if you think you’re suffering from a skin infection, see your doctor immediately.

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