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Heat rash on face

Updated on November 4, 2013

Heat rash is a skin condition characterized by pinkish or reddish rashes that affect various parts of the body which are exposed to excessive heat and are often enclosed in clothing. The disorder is also referred to as prickly heat rash. Even though heat rash on face and other body areas commonly occurs in babies, it can also affect adults exposed to hot and humid climates.

Heat rash is caused due to blockage of the skin pores or sweat ducts and subsequent trapping of sweat beneath the skin. Affected individuals may experience shallow blisters or deep reddish bumps. A few types of heat rash can result in severe itchiness and prickly sensations.

Heat rash on face and other regions tends to disappear on its own. Serious instances of heat rash may require medical treatment. However, the best way to alleviate the symptoms is by cooling the skin and avoiding excessive perspiration.

Symptoms of heat rash on face

  • Heat rash on face and other areas appear as small pimples or spots. Young children can experience the skin condition on the face, neck, head, shoulders, back, and chest. The regions affected by heat rash can become irritated due to friction with apparels or scratching.
  • Scratching heat rashes can cause the skin to break open and result in minor wounds. Such wounds are however at increased risk to secondary infections by bacteria and other pathogens.

When to consult a doctor: Doctors will usually diagnose heat rash by its unique appearance. The symptoms generally fade away after 3 to 4 days. However, if they persist or aggravate, or if the affected child develops a fever, then it is essential for parents to immediately consult a doctor.

Parents need to be on the lookout for the below listed signs and symptoms, in case their child is affected by heat rash on face and other places. If the abnormal symptoms are detected then seek immediate medical care.

  • Increased swelling, pain, warmth, or redness of the area surrounding the affected body parts.
  • Fever with body temperatures of 37.8 degrees C or 100 degrees F, or more.
  • Chills without the presence of any other known cause.
  • Oozing of pus from the region affected by heat rash
  • Extension of red streaks from the affected region
  • Swelling of the neck, groin, or armpit lymph nodes

Causes of heat rash on face

Heat rash on face and other regions is caused due to obstruction of the sweat ducts. Consequently, the perspiration that should normally evaporate gets trapped under the skin, which in turn leads to skin inflammation and rash formation.

The exact causes of sweat ducts blockage are not always known. However, the presence of below listed risk factors can increase the vulnerability to developing heat rash:

  • Babies have immature sweat ducts which are prone to easy rupture and subsequent trapping of sweat under the skin. Hence, newborns are at greater risk to developing heat rash on face and other areas. Babies may experience the anomaly during hot weather conditions or if they are dressed too warmly. Babies placed in incubators or those with high fevers are also at increased risk to sweat duct rupture and clogging.
  • Excessive or vigorous exercising or physical activities can result in profuse sweating and heat rash formation
  • Increased exposure to hot and humid weather
  • Prolonged bed rest or hospitalization
  • Prolonged use of certain fabrics that prevent normal evaporation of perspiration
  • Overheating caused due to excessive layers of clothing or sleeping below an electric blanket during winters
  • Intake of certain medications like beta blockers, clonidine, opiates, etc., that increase sweating
  • Heavy or over application of ointments and creams can also block the pores

Treatment of heat rash on face

Most cases of heat rash on face and other areas tend to resolve on their own within a few days. Patients can take certain steps to reduce sweating and help heal the rashes.

You can let the skin cool off by staying indoors in air-conditioned environments or in places where the air is being circulated by fans. Limiting all forms of physical activities, taking cool baths, keeping the body amply hydrated via intake of lots of water and other fluids, and wearing light and loose-fitting clothes that help the body breathe will also help ease the symptoms.

Parents may follow the steps listed below to alleviate the symptoms of heat rash in babies:

  • Loosen and remove the baby’s clothing. Take the baby to a shady or cool spot
  • Air-dry the skin instead of removing sweat with towels
  • Skin irritation may be relieved via use of hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion as recommended by a pediatrician.
  • Do not use other lotions or ointments as they can block the pores and further irritate the skin.
  • Ensure that the sleeping area of the baby is kept well ventilated and cool.

After heat rash on face and other affected areas has disappeared, parents may slowly expose the baby to warmer weather so that it can get acclimatized to it.

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