Health > Kids > Heat rash
Heat rash, often referred to as prickly heat, is very common in the shoulder and neck region of babies when the weather gets hot. It is made up of clusters of very small pink bumps surrounded by blotches of pink skin. Tiny blisters can sometimes form on some of the bumps. When these blisters dry up they can give the rash a slightly tan look.
Prickly heat usually starts around the neck. If it is bad, it can spread down onto the chest and back and up around the ears and face, but it seldom bothers a baby.
Most forms of prickly heat do not need any treatment. The rash goes away eventually. It is more important to try to keep the baby cool. Don't be afraid to take off the baby's clothes in hot weather. After all, there's no evidence that early experiences with nakedness lead to children growing up to be nudists.
If you choose to do something about the rash, simply try wiping off the skin with water and patting it dry. You can also pat the rash several times a day with a bicarbonate of soda solution (1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda to 1 cup water) on absorbent cotton. Another treatment is dusting with cornstarch powder.
The use of talcum powder is no longer recommended because it is very irritating to the lungs if accidentally inhaled.
Heat Rash Treatments
Although heat rash usually goes away on its own in a few days, some children do require treatment, which can include:
- removing the child from the triggering environment, such as dressing in less clothing, moving inside to a cooler, air conditioned environment, etc.
- mild strength topical steroids, although these usually aren't needed
- calamine lotion
- compresses with cool water
- antibiotics for secondary infections
Some helpful suggestions:
- During the hot season dress your baby in light-weight soft cotton clothing. Cotton is very absorbent and keeps moisture away from the baby's skin.
- If air conditioning is not available a fan may help by evaporating moisture and cooling the infant. Place the fan far enough away that there is only a gentle breeze drifting over the infant.
- Avoid the use of powders, creams, and ointments. Baby powders don't improve or prevent heat rash. Creams and ointments tend to keep the skin warmer and block the pores.