Effective Strategies for Treating Heat Rash in Babies

Jun 09, 2023

Pediatric Urgent Care


Blockages in the sweat gland ducts due to excessive perspiration result in the sweat being trapped in the epidermis and the dermis. This leads to inflamed and itchy skin with clusters of red bumps. While people of all ages can have heat rash, babies are more vulnerable to this condition as their sweat ducts are still immature and clog faster. According to research, it is estimated that between one and three weeks of age, heat rashes affect around 4% to 9% of infants. Our blog will provide you with in-depth information about what causes heat rashes in babies and effective tips to prevent them.

Types of Heat Rashes

Doctors classify heat rashes in babies into four types based on their appearance and severity of symptoms. They are:

  • Miliaria Rubra

    Also referred to as prickly heat, this type of heat rash is the most common and is caused due to blockage in the mid-epidermal sweat glands.

  • Miliaria Crystallina

    This is a mild heat rash caused by the clogging of sweat ducts in the epidermis.

  • Miliaria Profunda

    This is a rare but severe condition with intense discoloration and inflammation caused by the leakage of sweat into the dermis due to clogging in sweat glands.

  • Miliaria Pustulosa

    At times, inflamed prickly heat or miliaria rubra develops into pus-filled blisters.

Causes of Heat Rashes

While obstruction in the sweat glands is the main cause of heat rash, other factors that can stop sweat from evaporating and cause heat rash are:

  • Friction

    The skin in the armpits, neck, and groin rubs against the adjoining skin preventing sweat from flowing out of the pores.

  • Skin Folds

    Infants often have skin folds in various body parts, including the neck and inner thighs, which trap heat and sweat, leading to heat rash.

  • Tight or Heavy Clothing

    Dressing your baby in tight or too-warm clothing may obstruct the free passage of sweat from the ducts onto the skin’s surface. 

  • Lotions and Oils

    Lotions and oils can lead to the pores on the skin being clogged, resulting in heat rash.

Heat Rash Symptoms

Heat rash, in general, has the following symptoms:

  • Cluster of pin-sized bumps or blisters
  • Hot and flushed reddish-hued skin

However, different types of heat rash may show specific symptoms:

  • Miliaria Rubra: has tiny red itchy blisters on red and inflamed skin
  • Miliaria Crystallina: has tiny clear bumps that are neither red nor painful
  • Miliaria Profunda: has skin-colored, deep fluid-filled painful blisters
  • Miliaria Pustulosa: may develop into pustules and may bleed when broken.

What Does a Heat Rash Look Like?

A heat rash may vary in appearance on different skin tones. While on lighter skin, they appear as tiny bumps on a patch of reddish, itchy skin, darker skin tones do not usually turn red, making the rash less visible. The rash may take on a greyish, purplish, or whitish hue. For some, there is discoloration in the affected area that the doctors diagnose as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation that resolves in a few weeks.

Diagnosis of Heat Rashes

Heat rash is characterized by its appearance. However, for diagnosis, doctors may perform a physical examination based on the heat rash symptoms of your baby.

In most cases, heat rash treatments and prickly heat rash treatments can be done effectively with several home remedies:

  • Keep your baby in cool surroundings
  • Apply cold compresses for relief 
  • Wipe off the oil and sweat from the affected area and pat it dry
  • Keep the skin within the folds clean and dry to prevent the accumulation of sweat
  • Keep your baby hydrated
  • Consult the doctor before applying cream or lotion

Risk Factors Associated with It

Babies are at a higher risk of getting heat rash if:

  • The climate is warm and humid
  • Swaddling makes the baby sweaty
  • Kept near a heat source
  • Dressed in warmer clothes than needed

Tips to Prevent Heat Rashes in Babies

To ensure that your baby doesn’t suffer from heat rash, you may follow the tips mentioned below:

  • Limit heat exposure

    Babies have delicate skin that can easily become irritated. Avoid prolonged hours outside in direct sunlight or inside near space heaters or other heat sources.

  • Dress your baby appropriately

    Choose loose-fitting and comfortable clothes made from natural fibers like cotton. Avoid synthetic materials that can trap heat and moisture against the skin.

  • Keep the environment cool

    Ensure that the temperature in your home is comfortable and not excessively warm. Use fans or air conditioning to maintain a cool environment during hot weather.

  • Use appropriate bedding

    Opt for lightweight and breathable bedding materials such as cotton sheets and blankets. Avoid using heavy comforters or thick mattress pads that can trap heat.

  • Use lightweight blankets or muslin cloths

    If you need to cover your baby, opt for lightweight blankets or muslin cloths that allow air circulation and prevent overheating.

  • Keep your baby hydrated

    Ensure that your baby drinks enough fluids, especially during hot weather. Breastfeeding or offering formula frequently will help keep them hydrated.

  • Use a cool-mist humidifier

    Adding a cool-mist humidifier to your baby's room can help keep the air moist and prevent their skin from drying out, which can contribute to heat rashes.

  • Use a gentle cleanser

    When bathing your baby, use a mild, fragrance-free cleanser or baby soap. Avoid harsh soaps or excessive scrubbing, as they can irritate the skin.

Visit 8-2-8 Urgent Care for Prompt and Quality Pediatric Urgent Care

Heat rash, in most cases, does not need medical care. However, if the condition persists or deteriorates, you must consult a provider. Our pediatric urgent care walk-in clinic in Oceanside, CA, can provide exceptional pediatric care with minimum waiting time in the most comfortable and child-friendly environment.  You can contact 8-2-8 Urgent Care, and our staff will walk you through our online check-in which allows you and your child the convenience to wait at home until our team calls you.  Call (760) 216-6253.

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