A heat rash can suddenly appear on babies when they start to feel too warm. Prickly heat, also known as miliaria, is a skin flare that often affects infants and can be uncomfortably and itchy for them. The main cause is when sweat gets trapped underneath the baby’s skin. Infants generally have smaller sweat glands and cannot regulate their body temperature yet, which makes them susceptible to prickly heat and outbreak of rashes. Clothes that are too tight, swaddles and blankets that are too thick can also cause heat rash. Another known cause of this condition is when the sweat gets trapped between the skin folds of the infant.
There are four types of heat rash that vary from mild to severe: Milaria crystallina is very mild. The inflammation happens in the epidermis and is characterized by small clear or white blisters on the infant’s skin. Its appearance can also resemble tiny beads of sweat underneath the skin, however these blisters do not look inflamed and have no red discoloration. Milaria rubra is common and has medium severity, It is primarily caused by the blockage of sweat glands on the infant’s skin surface, resulting in small bumps, redness and itchiness. Miliaria profunda is the a severe form of heat rash in infants, and look like blisters that resemble pimples. These are skin-colored and can be painful to the baby. The most severe form is Milaria pustulosa and causes irritated pustules that can scab over, or break open and bleed, causing severe discomfort for the infant.
Heat rash symptoms usually go away on its own without treatment but it’s important to provide at-home remedies for your infant for their comfort. This includes keeping the skin cool and dry, applying cool compress to the affected area and keeping the home environment mildly cool. Make sure to also regularly clean the affected area with cool water to rinse away any trapped oils and sweat on their skin. Another important remedy is to keep the infant well-hydrated. Do not use rash creams on the infant’s skin unless a doctor recommends a particular one that will not harm them. If your child’s heat rash doesn’t seem to go away, it’s important to call a medical provider immediately or to take them to the hospital for medical treatment.