Over The Hill and Under The Radar

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What is prickly heat?

What is prickly heat?

We are now at the start of the Summer and for most of us we love going out in the sun. There is always the feel good factor when the sun comes out.

For many of us when we have the lovely hot weather (and no rain!) we will generally be outside. It is a very sociable time and you could be attending a picnic, enjoying some of the many summer festivals, visiting the local beach soaking up the sun,, around at families and friends for a BBQ or even just taking it nice and easy.

What is prickly heat?
Approx 10% of the population will suffer from prickly heat in the Summer.


For some people the hot weather proves problematic.

While the sun brings out our fun side for some people they end up suffering from prickly heat, (which is often referred to as either ‘milaria rubra’ or ‘heat rash)

What is prickly heat?
Do not let prickly heat spoil that long-awaited holiday.


Prickly heat, heat rash or summer rash is caused by sweat blocking the epidermis. It causes an itching or burning sensation, and often little blisters or deeper red lumps are visible on the surface of the skin.

Prickly heat can develop anywhere on the body, but it usually appears on your face, neck, back, chest or thighs a few days after exposure to hot temperatures.

So who gets prickly heat?

Although anyone can get prickly heat, you’re more at risk of developing it if you’re in a hot climate where you sweat more than usual.

The following also increase your risk:

  • illness and immobility – long periods of time spent in bed can make you sweat more, particularly if you have warm bedding.
  • Sitting too close to a fire or heater
  • Being overweight– which is more likely to lead to excessive sweating
  • Babies and children are also more at risk of getting prickly heat, because their sweat glands aren’t fully developed.

What causes prickly heat?

  • Prickly heat usually affects parts of the body covered by clothes, such as the back, abdomen, neck, upper chest, groin or underarms.
  • Prickly heat is generally caused by exposure to sun, heat and humidity.
  • Your clothing – try not to wear tight clothing or wearing material made from synthetic fabrics as these can lead to trapped sweat next to the skin. Try to wear loose clothing and ideally cotton. Wearing white clothes reflect the sun but darker clothing will detract.
  • Avoid excessive exercise – if you are going to exercise then make sure you always carry a bottle of water and take regular rests.
  • Try to limit drinking red wine, coffee and spicy foods. Try a cold drink such as water and why not add a lemon or lime to make it more refreshing.
  • Avoid always applying perfume to the same spot on the skin, which can cause hyper-sensitivity.

How can prickly heat be treated?

  • In hot temperatures, stay in the shade or air-conditioned areas, or use a fan to circulate the air.

  • Bathe with cold water using products that do not contain soap, fragrances or dyes that can dry out the skin.
  • Keep your sleeping area cool and well ventilated.
  • Avoid using heavy creams or oils as they can block pores and exacerbate symptoms.

Avoid situations that can lead to excessive sweating, such as hot, humid environments and strenuous physical activity.

Below are some natural alternative remedies if none of the above work


Using oatmeal is a popular natural remedy. It will give you a soothing effect on the skin and you will get relief immediately.

  • Add one cup of finely ground oatmeal powder to a bathtub filled with cool water. Stir well, until the water gets a milky color.
  • Soak in this bath for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Pat dry your body with a soft towel.
  • Do this twice daily for a week to get relief.

Cold treatment

Using a cold treatment over the affected area will also provide immediate ease from the inflammation, prickling and itching

  • Wrap a few ice cubes in a dishcloth. Place it on the affected areas for five to 10 minutes at a time. Repeat every four to six hours for two to three days. This will prevent the rashes from getting worse and spreading further.
  • Alternatively, you can soak a cotton cloth in cold water, wring out the excess water and place it over the affected area for five to 10 minutes. Repeat three or four times a day for about a week.
  • You can also take a cold shower or bath as needed to reduce the intensity of prickly heat symptoms.

If you are worried about any symptoms please do contact your Doctor or visit your local pharmacy who can offer additional advice.

The good news is that prickly heat will generally disappear within a few days so you can enjoy the rest of the Summer.


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