Heat Rash  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • A fine pink rash caused by overheating
  • Mainly on the neck, chest, and upper back

If not, see these topics
When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Fever and looks infected (spreading redness, pus)
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Looks infected (spreading redness, pus), but no fever
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Rash is not gone after 3 days of treatment
Parent Care at Home If
  • Heat rash
Causes & Health Information


Symptoms

  • Tiny, pink bumps
  • Mainly on the neck, chest and upper back
  • Occurs during hot, humid weather or after lots of sun
  • Heat rash can be itchy
  • Older children may have a "prickly" pins and needles feeling
  • In babies, the rash can have some tiny water blisters
  • No fever or illness
  • Also called "prickly heat"


Cause

  • Heat rash is caused by blocked-off sweat glands. Hot, humid weather can cause the sweat glands to be overworked.
  • Babies can also get it in the wintertime from ointments put on the skin. Reason: Ointments can block off sweat glands.
  • Ointments and Location. Heat rash of the forehead can be caused by oil or ointment on the hair. Heat rash of the face of a breastfed baby can be caused by lanolin put on the nipples. Heat rash of the chest can be caused by menthol ointments put on for coughs.
  • Older children can get heat rash with hard exercise.
CARE ADVICE FOR HEAT RASH

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Heat rash is caused by blocked-off sweat glands.
    • It's common in hot, humid weather.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Cooling:
    • Cool off the skin to treat and prevent heat rash.
    • For large rashes, give your child a cool bath without soap. Do this for 10 minutes. (Caution: Avoid any chill.) Let the skin air-dry. Do this 3 or more times a day.
    • For small rashes, put a cool, wet washcloth on the area. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes. Then let the skin air-dry.
    • Dress in as few layers of clothing as you can.
    • Lower the temperature in your home if you can.
  3. Sleep:
    • When your child is asleep, run a fan in the bedroom.
    • During sleep, have your child lie on a cotton towel to absorb sweat. (Note: Only for older children age over 1 year.)
  4. Steroid Cream:
    • Use 1% hydrocortisone cream. No prescription is needed.
    • Put it on itchy spots 3 times per day.
    • Avoid hydrocortisone ointment.
    • Calamine lotion can also work.
  5. Do Not Use Ointments:
    • Avoid all ointments or oils on the skin. Reason: They can block off sweat glands.
    • Be sure the rash isn't caused by a menthol ointment being used for a cough.
  6. What to Expect:
    • With treatment, heat rash will clear up in 2 to 3 days.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Rash lasts more than 3 days on this treatment
    • Rash starts to look infected
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 12/14/2012

Last Revised: 1/13/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.