Heat rash, also called prickly heat & miliaria, is often thought of as a skin disease of children. However, during the summer months, when people tend to sweat more, it is not uncommon for adults to develop heat rash as well. Sweat is expelled from the body through ducts called eccrine sweat glands. If a person sweats a lot and keeps it there for a long time, the exit of the eccrine sweat gland is blocked by dirt and dust, and the sweat cannot be discharged. As a result, sweat leaks from the eccrine sweat glands into the dermis instead of out of the body, causing inflammation, red eczema, and itching. This is heat rash.
If bacteria invade from a wound caused by itching, the itchiness can become unbearable and lead to a severe case of contagious impetigo, also known as “chickenpox”.
People who are prone to heat rashes
People who are obese have more subcutaneous fat, which makes it difficult to release heat from the body, causing them to sweat more than non-obese people and making them more prone to heat rash. This is because when there is a lot of subcutaneous fat, skin rubs against skin in the lower abdomen, at the base of the legs, under the armpits, and on the neck, causing the eccrine sweat glands to become blocked. Women with large or sagging breasts are also more likely to develop rashes due to sweat accumulation between the breast and breast skin.
Many elderly people tend to avoid air conditioning, but if they are left sweating, they may develop rashes. In addition, people who spend most of the day in bed due to illness or other reasons are more likely to develop rash because the skin on the back and other parts of the body remain in close contact with the bed.
Treatment of heat rash
In mild cases, by frequently bathing or showering to wash off sweat and keep the skin clean, the rash will basically heal itself. Avoid using rough, hard towels or sponges when washing the area with heat rash, as they can damage the rash and make it more likely to develop contagious impetigo. Use foamy body soap or a foaming net to create lather, and wash gently with your hands. After bathing, wipe the skin by pressing a towel against the body to remove water droplets, avoiding rubbing the skin.
If itching occurs, first cool the rash with coolant or a cool towel. Then, use over-the-counter medications for rash to relieve the itching. There are many different types of medications for heat rash, including different dosage forms and ingredients. The appropriate over-the-counter medication depends on the symptoms and age of the patient, so consult with a pharmacy or other health care provider. Powder-type over-the-counter medications should be used when eczema produces exudates, and cream-type over-the-counter medications should be used when eczema does not produce exudates.
If, in addition to the rash, you have a skin disease such as atopic dermatitis or suspect a bacterial or fungal infection, over-the-counter medications may make your symptoms worse. If symptoms worsen with over-the-counter medications, or if the itching is so strong that you cannot sleep, see a dermatologist as soon as possible.
If the rash becomes severe, such as contagious impetigo caused by scratching, it is important to receive appropriate treatment at a dermatologist to prevent spreading the disease to others. Treatment for contagious impetigo involves the use of topical antibacterial medications to control bacteria that have grown in the affected area. If the eczema caused by the rash is worsening, topical steroids may be prescribed. Oral or topical antihistamines may also be prescribed if the itching makes it difficult to sleep.
Prevention of heat rash
To prevent heat rash, it is important to keep the skin clean and avoid perspiration. To keep the skin clean, it is important to wipe frequently after sweating. When you are out and about, use a towel, handkerchief, or sweat wipes to wipe away perspiration.
Also, make sure to wear clothing that easily absorbs sweat and dries easily. Choose loose-fitting clothes made of cotton or other fabrics that dry easily. When playing sports, it is recommended to wear sportswear made of materials that absorb sweat and dry quickly.
For people whose skin tends to dry out easily, it is important to take care of their skin after taking a bath. After bathing, applying a moisturizer to protect the skin from drying out will help prevent rashes. A non-greasy emulsion type moisturizer is recommended. Avoid Vaseline, which is greasy and sticky and blocks the exit of eccrine sweat lines, causing heat rash.