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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

August 11, 2021, Gary Kirkilas, DO
5 Tips to Prevent a Child’s Heat Rash
5 Tips to Prevent a Child’s Heat Rash

Summer is in full swing here in Arizona which means long days of sweltering heat. For parents of infants and toddlers, you may have noticed your child occasionally develops a bumpy, red rash on the head, neck or chest. This may be the common heat rash which pediatricians see more frequently when the temperatures soar. Here we’ll talk about what causes heat rash, how to identify it, and most importantly, how to prevent and treat it.

Heat rash, also referred to as sweat rash, prickly heat or miliaria, occurs when sweat glands in the skin become blocked. The sweat becomes trapped under the skin and cannot escape which then causes the sweat glands to become inflamed and irritated. It is most common in infants as their sweat ducts are developing but can also happen in older children as well.

Heat rash typically looks like a patch of small pink or red bumps. Occasionally, the bumps can be one’s normal skin color or can have a clear fluid bubble-like appearance. The rash characteristically appears in areas of the body that are prone to sweating or occlusion. In infants, we frequently see this in the skin folds of the neck, upper chest, and diaper area. We also see it on the face after breastfeeding or any part of the body when they are swaddled tightly. Similarly, in toddlers, heat rash occurs in any area with tight clothing and can also be frequently spotted after napping in a hot bedroom. In some cases, the rash can be accompanied by an itching or a prickly sensation.

This rash will usually resolve on its own, without any treatment, within a day or two. However, if the rash persists or appears to show signs of infection such as pus or drainage, it’s best to have it checked out by a medical provider.

To prevent this type of rash, parents can try a few of the following tips:

  • For younger babies, try a looser swaddle, if possible, or only swaddling their upper body. However, do ensure the swaddle is snug enough that it cannot become unraveled while they are asleep.
  • For toddlers, try loose fitting clothing. Tank tops are a great way to keep sweat from getting trapped.
  • Always opt for breathable clothing material like cotton or linen as they allow air movement which will help sweat to evaporate.
  • Avoid clothing material like polyester or cotton-polyester blends as they tend to trap heat and sweat.
  • Keep air circulating in their bedroom with a ceiling van or stationary van.

If heat rash does occur, there are a couple of things you can try and some things to avoid:

  • Parents can make their child more comfortable by giving lukewarm or cool baths, removing any tight clothing and avoiding placing ointment on affected areas.
  • Lotions and creams often do not help and can make the rash worse by further blocking the sweat glands

Hopefully, these tips will keep your kids cool and heat rash free this summer.

Get more information about our Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics by visiting the official website: https://www.phoenixchildrenspediatrics.org.

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