- Has a fever or chills along with the rash
- Has pain, redness, warmth, or swelling around the rash
- Has pus draining from the rash
- Develops blisters or scabs
- Has swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin
For a severe heat rash, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to help relieve the pain and discomfort.
The most severe form of heat rash (miliaria pustulosa) has the potential to develop into a secondary infection. Notify your healthcare provider if you notice any of the following signs of infection:
- A rash only on one side or that is asymmetrical (not under both breasts or both armpits)
- White or light coloring over the red rash
- Flaking skin
- Pus oozing from the rash
- Blisters or boils
If your rash becomes infected, you may be prescribed oral or topical antibiotics.
Usually, home remedies are the best way to treat heat rash. If the rash is itchy and inflamed, talk to your healthcare provider. You might ask whether they suggest using an over-the-counter (OTC) corticosteroid cream.
Avoid using OTC products such as body powder, creams, and lotions, since they can further block your pores. This is the opposite of what you need to clear up the rash.
Whether you’re working out inside or enjoying the sun, try to reserve your heaviest exertion for the coolest times of the day. If you’re near water, take advantage of that to cool off periodically.
If you must exercise when it’s hot, find some shade or use cold compresses to keep your temperature from getting too high.
Rinse Off With Cool Water
Before going out in the heat, after coming in, and, if possible, a few times in between, rinse yourself with cool water. It will cool down your skin while washing away the sweat that may clog your pores.
Take Breaks From the Heat
If possible, take a break from the heat by going inside an air-conditioned space. You could also take a dip in the pool or just find a shady spot and drink a cold beverage.
The best way to deal with a heat rash is to avoid getting one. This may take some planning and forethought. However, it’ll be well worth it when you—and your child—aren’t dealing with an itchy rash.
Allow Your Baby to Go Without Diapers
Plastic diapers don’t breathe, meaning they can make your baby sweat and then trap that sweat in the folds of their skin. That’s right where it’s most likely to cause a heat rash. Especially if you’re outside, let your baby run around without the diaper during the heat of the day.
Use Cotton Diapers
If you’re someplace where you can’t let your baby go without a diaper, consider using cotton diapers on hot days. Cotton is a breathable fabric, so it’ll allow your baby’s skin to stay much drier than plastic.
You can do many things in the comfort of your own home to soothe a heat rash.
Take Cool Baths and Showers
A cool bath or shower can do double-duty:
- It cools down your body.
- A gentle wash can unclog pores that are contributing to the rash.
When you get out, if possible, you should let your skin air-dry rather than rub it down with a towel.
Wear Loose Clothing
When you have a heat rash, be sure to wear clothing that allows irritated skin to heal. It’s important to choose light fabrics and loose-fitting garments that don’t chafe.
For sports, look for fitness clothing that wicks moisture so you can keep sweat from collecting and exacerbating the rash. An alternative to moisture-wicking fabric is cotton, which breathes well and therefore allows damp skin to dry.
Get Out of the Heat
You don’t want to let yourself overheat when you already have a heat rash. Avoiding heat and staying in an air-conditioned environment as much as possible can help. If you don’t have access to A/C, consider fans, especially to keep your bedroom cool overnight.
If you aren’t able to cool down your home, consider going somewhere cooler. That could include the mall, a movie theater, a restaurant, or a friend’s house.
Avoid Thick Personal Care Products
Heavy moisturizers, lotions, and ointments can further clog your pores, which can make your heat rash worse.2 Choose lighter-weight products for the summer months, or skip them altogether while your skin recovers from heat rash.
Apply Cool Compresses
Cold compresses can cool and soothe your skin when you have a heat rash. You can use a wet washcloth or wrap an ice pack in a towel. Just be sure you allow the area to dry thoroughly afterward.
Ice and gel ice packs should never be applied directly to your skin. Use an appropriate cloth barrier to protect your skin.
Take an Anti-Itch Bath
This is easy to do at home using oatmeal, baking soda, or Epsom salt. Any one of those will relieve the itchiness of your heat rash.
Don’t use bubble baths or bath bombs, even if their ingredients sound soothing. They may also contain ingredients that dry or irritate your sensitive skin.
Usually, heat rash is composed of small, prickly, itchy bumps with a halo around them. This type of heat rash is called miliaria ruba, or prickly heat.
Other than the discomfort, heat rash really isn’t a health concern. However, if left untreated, the condition can cause pus-containing blisters (miliaria profunda) and lead to infection.
A heat rash most often appears:
- In the folds of the skin, including armpits and elbow creases
- Under the breasts
- In the groin area
- On the legs, chest, arms, neck, and back
Although a heat rash usually goes away on its own in a few days, some simple home remedies and over-the-counter products can help treat the rash or, even better, prevent it in the first place.
Heat rash looks like small itchy bumps with a halo around them. It’s usually found in the folds of the skin but can also be on the legs, chest, arms, neck, and back.
It’s good to know how to get rid of a heat rash, since it can be rather uncomfortable. Fortunately, it’s pretty straightforward and, for both kids and adults, involves keeping the area cool, dry, and irritation-free.
A heat rash (also known as miliaria) develops when sweat glands become blocked and sweat is trapped under the skin. It is common in people who live in hot, humid climates and in those who sweat a lot.
Babies, who have immature sweat glands, are more likely to get heat rash. It can also be more common for people who are obese, over age 65, on certain medications, and on bed rest.
Heat rash is also commonly referred to as diaper rash, summer rash, or wildfire rash.