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Heatproof Your Skin

Updated on January 22, 2016
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Soothe (and prevent) itchy, prickly outbreaks.

You’re hot: You’ve worked up a sweat – and now notice clusters of tiny, red bumps on your skin. These are tips on how to treat this common skin condition.

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The Basic Facts

Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, occurs when pores become clogged, often after prolonged exposure to perspiration. Tight or damp clothing is typically just one trigger (plain old heat and humidity is another). When skin can’t “breathe,” sweat gets trapped inside pores, irritating skin and causing small clusters of red bumps (sometimes fluid-filled) to appear. The slight swelling, and occasional bursting, of these bumps gives you a prickly sensation.

What To Look For

You have heat rash (as opposed to an allergic reaction like hives) if you notice:

  • Skin stinging or prickling, similar in sensation to a small bug bite. (It’s where this condition gets its name).
  • A cluster of bumps in folds of skin (e.g. elbow creases and beneath the breasts) or beneath clothing where fabric rubs against skin.

Simple Solutions

Take these skin-calming steps:

  • Avoid itching and scratching; it can irritate heat rash.

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  • Apply hydrocortisone cream every four to six hours to clean, dry skin. Try Aveeno 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream, with soothing aloe and oat flour.

  • Avoid applying oils and heavy ointments to skin if you’re prone to this condition.

  • Dust body powder on dry skin to ease discomfort and keep clammy-prone areas from becoming sweaty. Try Shower to Shower Absorbent Body Powder.

  • Wear sweat-wicking clothing during workouts to help perspiration dissipate rather than remain on skin, causing pores to become clogged.

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  • Stay in air-conditioned areas on high-humidity days as much as possible. (Cool baths also can help.)

What Works

If you commonly get heat rash and feel yourself breaking a sweat, take a shower, swim or fan yourself to cool off and reset your body’s thermometer.

The bottom line Sporadic heat rash is annoying, but not worrisome. If heat rash becomes a regular thing (more than once a week), consult your doctor. The fact that it keeps recurring may indicate that something else, like a skin allergy, is the trigger.

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