Top tips for treating prickly heat rash this summer

Prickly HeatCC: Anna Demianenko at Unsplash

Spending time in the sun is one of the biggest perks of summer, but it comes with consequences. One such consequence is prickly heat rash. Although prickly heat is harmless, it soon becomes irritating. If you know you’re prone to it, you may want to learn more about treating it.

What is prickly heat?

When the sun starts shining and your body temperature rises, your body’s response is to sweat and cool you down. Unfortunately, this means there’s a risk that the sweat will become trapped in your sweat glands. When this happens, prickly heat sets in.

Tiny red bumps that are itchy are tell-tale signs of prickly heat. In most cases, the rash doesn’t develop any further. A small number of people develop blisters, though, and the rash begins to sting.

How can you prevent prickly heat?

The key to preventing prickly heat is to keep your skin cool. If you’re spending lots of time outdoors because you love the sun, you need to give yourself a break so that you don’t sweat so much. Other preventative measures include:

Despite your best attempts, you might find that prickly heat becomes a problem anyway. When this happens, knowing how to treat it allows you to enjoy a comfier summer.

What treatments are available?

Fortunately, this is the type of rash you don’t usually need to see your doctor about. Competent pharmacists can assess and diagnose the rash, although if you or they are in any doubt you should see a medic instead.

If you’re a frequent prickly heat sufferer and you’re confident there’s no other cause for your rash, apply ice to the affected area. Wrap it in a towel and keep it there for 20 minutes, then wash with cool water.

Antihistamines for prickly heat

One of the most frustrating aspects of prickly heat is the urge to itch. Sometimes it becomes unbearable. When this is the case, you’ll need to take a medication that makes it less irritating. Most over the counter antihistamines will do the trick, just make sure you use one that’s non-drowsy.

Calamine lotion

As an old-fashioned treatment, calamine lotion is an excellent treatment for lots of skin irritations. If you haven’t itched your prickly heat rash to the point that there are open wounds, feel free to apply some to soothe your rash. To make the soothing effect take hold faster, try placing your lotion in the fridge for a short while first.

Hydrocortisone cream

Although hydrocortisone cream isn’t a first-line treatment for prickly heat, it is necessary in some cases. When the itching is particularly intense and other measures aren’t working, approach your doctor for a prescription. Try to avoid using it as a long-term measure and experiment with the other treatments if your rash re-appears.

Using a combination of preventative measures and smart treatments, you can stop prickly heat from ruining your summer. And always remember, if you’re in doubt about the rash’s cause, see a doctor.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.