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Heat rash is a painful skin condition that often occurs in hot weather.

The symptoms of heat rash include small clusters of tiny, raised bumps on discolored, irritated skin. A prickly, burning or itchy sensation may also accompany heat rash.

Heat rash is also known as prickly heat, sweat rash, or miliaria rubra.

Although it can appear anywhere on the body, heat rash often appears around skin folds, including:

  • in the neck
  • near the groin
  • under the arms

Heat rash occurs when excessive sweating blocks sweat pores. You’re most likely to get heat rash if you live in a hot, humid climate. Babies are particularly likely to get heat rash, especially if they’re overdressed.

Most of the time, heat rash isn’t serious and often goes away in cool temperatures. However, it can be very uncomfortable and can get worse if excessive sweating continues.

Let’s take a look at several ways you can soothe heat rash at home.

Your doctor may recommend several over-the-counter or prescription medications to treat heat rash.

Ointments

A doctor may recommend you use ointments such as calamine lotion to treat the symptoms of heat rash. This lotion has a number of benefits for the skin, partly because it contains zinc oxide.

It can help treat heat rash by soothing itchiness. Dab some calamine lotion onto your rash using a cotton pad. Reapply as needed.

A range of calamine lotions is available for purchase online.

Antihistamines

Over-the-counter antihistamines — whether topical or oral — can relieve the itching associated with heat rash. If you’re giving an antihistamine to a child, be sure to talk with your pediatrician or pharmacist about which types are best.

Steroid creams

Hydrocortisone cream, a type of corticosteroid, may help relieve symptoms of heat rash. It’s available over the counter at any pharmacy and can be applied once or twice a day to soothe itching.

While you can use it short term on your baby’s skin, don’t apply it under the diaper. It could further irritate the skin.

Learn more about hydrocortisone cream for babies here.

There are many home remedies for heat rash. Some soothe your skin or cool it down, while others reduce inflammation and itching while preventing infection.

It’s important not to scratch your rash. Scratching can lead to more irritation and possibly an infection.

Cool baths and showers

Heat rash usually eases up after the skin is cooled down. Bathing in cool water can help with this. Washing the skin gently can also unclog the pores. This is crucial since clogged pores contribute to heat rash.

Ensure that you dry your skin properly after bathing. Skin that’s left wet can become irritated.

Fans and air conditioners

While your skin heals, avoid excessive sweating and humid air. Ventilation is important in letting your rash dry out and stay cool. When possible, stay in an air-conditioned room, or use an air fan.

Light, moisture-wicking clothes

As your skin heals itself, it’s essential to avoid clothing that irritates your skin or makes you sweat more. Moisture-wicking clothing that’s light and loose-fitting can help your skin heal without irritating it.

Look for certain polyesters and other synthetic fabrics designed for fitness and sporting activities. These will be particularly suited for wicking moisture.

Cotton, while not a moisture-wicking fabric, is quite breathable. It might be comfortable to wear as well.

Ice packs or cold cloths

Cold compresses are great for soothing irritated skin. Face cloths soaked in cold water, or ice wrapped in a cloth, can reduce the pain and irritation associated with heat rash.

Here’s more information about making your own cold compress.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal can be effective at reducing itching and inflammation. This makes it a useful home remedy for heat rash and several other skin conditions.

Put 1 or 2 cups of oatmeal in a lukewarm bath and soak for 20 minutes. Make sure the water isn’t hot, so you don’t further irritate your skin.

You can also make a paste with oatmeal and water and apply it to your skin. Mix 1 part oatmeal to 1 part water, and mix until it forms a paste.

You can shop for soothing colloidal oatmeal here.

Sandalwood

Research suggests sandalwood is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, meaning it may reduce pain. Sandalwood powder mixed with a little water and applied to the rash can reduce the burning, painful sensation associated with heat rash.

Mix 2 parts sandalwood powder with 1 part water to make a pastelike substance. Before applying it to your rash, test it on a small patch of unbroken skin. If you don’t react after an hour, you should apply it to the rash without any further issues.

You can buy sandalwood powder online here.

Baking soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can soothe itchy skin. It’s also something most of us have in our pantry. This makes it a great home remedy for heat rash and other itchy skin conditions.

Add 3 to 5 tablespoons of baking soda to a lukewarm bath and soak for about 20 minutes.

Learn more about using baking soda on your skin here.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic that can cool down the skin while preventing infections. This can help soothe swelling and pain. Use aloe vera gel directly on your heat rash to relieve the discomfort.

Find aloe vera gel here.

Unscented talcum powder

Talcum powder reduces sweat by absorbing perspiration. In turn, this ensures the pores aren’t blocked.

Use unscented talcum powder, as scents might irritate your skin. Apply a little on sweat-prone areas like your underarms, backs of your knees, and inner thighs. Coat the skin and let it sit as if it were an antiperspirant deodorant.

Find talcum powder here.

Neem

Neem (margosa) can help treat a number of skin rashes. Some research has shown it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. However, human studies are limited.

You can combine neem powder with water to make a paste. This paste can be applied to the rash, left on for a few minutes, and washed off. You can also add neem powder to a lukewarm bath.

Epsom salt

Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) has a range of claimed health benefits. According to anecdotal accounts, a lukewarm bath with a cup or two of Epsom salt may relieve itchiness.

If you give a child an Epsom salt bath, make sure they don’t swallow any water. When consumed orally, Epsom salt is a laxative. In excess, it can cause diarrhea.

You can buy Epsom salt online here.

Provided there are no complications, your heat rash should disappear within a few days of starting home treatment.

The rate it takes to disappear depends on how severe the rash was initially and whether you’re treating it effectively. If your rash worsens after a few days, you may need to speak to a healthcare provider.

While there are a number of effective home remedies for heat rash, you might need a doctor’s guidance if any complications occur.

You should also contact your doctor if a rash doesn’t go away within a week of starting treatment, or if you start to develop a rash after starting any new medication.

You should also consult your doctor if a rash seems infected. Symptoms of infected skin include:

  • pus
  • oozing
  • white or yellowish fluid
  • increased pain
  • swelling

Take your child or baby to the doctor immediately if they have:

Since heat rash occurs when your body overheats and sweats, you can prevent heat rashes by staying cool.

To prevent heat rashes, take the following precautions on hot days:

  • Stay in air-conditioned, cool areas.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Don’t wear excessive layers of clothing.
  • Avoid too much physical exertion.
  • Take cool showers or baths.

Parents should ensure that children and babies stay cool, hydrated, and dressed comfortably. Be sure you’re changing your baby’s diaper frequently, too. Wetness can contribute to heat rash.

Should heat rash occur, there is a range of home remedies available to treat it. These include cold showers and compresses, as well as a variety of ointments and medications.