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What is a Heat Rash?
Heat rash (AKA Summer Rash, Prickly Heat, or cholinergic urticaria) is a dermatological condition that babies have the greatest predisposition to suffer. The skin will form tiny blisters or bumps that may appear to be red on fair skin. You will most likely find isolated patches of heat rash developing in areas with the most friction against clothing or in the folds of the flesh (skin-on-skin contact).
What Causes a Heat Rash?
When your baby overheats she needs to sweat, even if it is from spicy foods. When those tiny pores clog up, patches of little red bumps can decorate that neonate landscape of skin. Tightly fitting clothing further irritates the skin into releasing histamines. Anytime that your baby heats up, even after a hot bath, it can cause the chemical release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a sweat release trigger that is also associated with histamine release. This creates the inexact causal nexus that the sensitive skin may be overreacting to the small amounts of histamine that are usually present during sweating.
Babies can develop sensitivities to heat much like food allergies. The baby may feel sensitivity during particular seasons or go for years with a predisposition to developing this dermatological condition. Although it is rarely serious, the unchecked overheating can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It also increases the chances of your baby suffering from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Anaphylactic shock can result in an inability to breathe.
Symptoms to Look For
You will notice your baby becoming uncomfortable as the first signs of heat rash tingles. The next phase is itchiness in any porous region of the body (face, limbs, back, chest) before spreading all over. If the baby is not cooled down quickly, this will create a burning or stinging sensation in the skin. Finally, the skin turns red and forms the swollen bumps as it is scratched. The pores swell shut and further reduce the sweat-induced cooling process.
How to Prevent Heat Rash for Babies
The most practical approach is to document the circumstances leading up to any observations of a heat rash. If your baby develops them after eating hot food, a hot bath, direct sunlight, or certain tight-fitting or abrasive clothing, make a note. Submersing a hand in cold water is one of the quickest methods of cooling the entire body. If you want to keep your baby cool, first remove clothing from body parts most associated with rapid heat loss: the head, feet, and hands. Soft natural-fibered clothing like cotton can be washed in a fragrance and allergen free detergent or hand washed with a moisturizing soap to eliminate clothing-related outbreaks. Let your baby drip dry after a shower or gently fan dry to reduce skin abrasions and clogged pores.
Baby powders are known to clog your baby’s delicate pores. It is best to avoid all powders and the plastic diaper covers that are often used today. It is a good idea to check your babies skin temperature with a digital laser thermometer that will detect surface temperature accurately. You can compare results in different environments and what the reading is at the time of a breakout. You can probably tell by hand if the skin seems unusually moist and warm. Keep your baby’s room cool at night with appropriate climate controls such as A/C; or a small fan obliquely positioned to blow near her, not on her.
Keep your baby’s fingernails trimmed and possibly covered with some loose-fitting thin cotton socks to keep her from scratching. Heat rash is typically something that babies outgrow as they age. Those with fairer more delicate skin and finer pores may experience more aggravated symptoms when they become hypersensitive. Keeping the baby hydrated with breast milk and avoiding formulas that may be too high in the lactose that dries out mucous membranes are other factors to consider. A hot humid climate and other extreme weather may also contribute to the environmental factors at play in a heat rash case.
Home Remedies to Treat Heat Rash
It is best to wash your baby in cool water with a gentle moisturizing soap. You may use calamine lotion to reduce the inflammation and itch, so long as it does not contain petroleum or mineral oils. Adding a cup of finely ground oatmeal to a bath of cool water may help ease inflammation and irritation. Applying a paste of either Sandalwood powder or Neem leaves before a cold bath are both popular for similar reasons. Fresh Aloe Vera applied to rashes from a freshly cut plant before a cool bath can also soothe your baby’s gentle skin. Always drip dry and note what works best for your child.