Summer in India means mangoes, ice creams, holidays and visits to grandparents’ and cousins’ homes. But summer in India also means humidity, being sweaty and a particularly annoying problem – prickly heat! Just as its name sounds, prickly heat can really take the fun out of your summer holidays by bothering you when all you want to do is chill and relax!
What is Prickly Heat?
Prickly heat is also called a heat rash and its medical term is Miliaria Rubra (no, it’s not malaria!). It occurs during hot weather, especially in areas of high humidity. It is caused when sweat gets trapped under the skin due to dead skin cells blocking pores or sweat ducts and usually appears as tiny bumps on the skin surface. It usually appears on the neck, chest, shoulders and back, and can cause a stinging, itching sensation.
Is Prickly Heat bad for your child?
Prickly heat isn’t really a serious condition, although more severe forms do exist. Babies and small kids are more prone to prickly heat since their sweat glands are still developing. While it usually clears up on its own, it can be uncomfortable for the while it lasts. If kids scratch too much, they can break the skin and cause an infection, so if that happens, they need to see a doctor. In any case if prickly heat doesn’t go away even after a few days or seems to get worse, it is recommended to seek medical advice. For newborns, any rash requires immediate attention from a doctor.
There are many commercial products for prickly heat available on supermarket and drug store shelves, but these need to be approached with caution since they can further block pores and worsen the condition. Simple home remedies are sufficient for this problem, and we’ve listed some effective ones below.
10 Home Remedies for Prickly Heat
1. Air the affected skin
Prickly heat is usually found to be worse on areas of the skin that are covered by clothing. For kids, it’s usually the upper body, so let them wander around without a shirt till the rash disappears.
2. Avoid the sun
During summer, the general recommendation is to stay indoors between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM, but if your child has prickly heat, it’s best to avoid even the hours outside this window. Let the kids avoid playing outdoors till their rash heals completely.
3. Use cool water
In summer, it’s common for overhead tanks to get heated, so make sure that your child bathes with water that is cool, but not cold. Bathing multiple times a day is recommended for prickly heat, so that the body cools faster and the rash subsides.
4. Stay within an air conditioned room
Staying in an air conditioned room offers significant relief for prickly heat, and is a good option if you have a small child who can’t seem to bear the stinging sensation. Do make him wear a shirt if he is likely to catch a cold.
5. Wear natural, breathable fabrics
Many of us tend to overdress babies, which is unnecessary in a hot country like ours. Dress your child appropriately and opt for fabrics like cotton or linen. Use soft cotton fabric for babies and skip the swaddling if it’s too hot.
6. Dry skin well after a bath
Besides avoiding fungal infections, it is essential to dry skin properly with a soft towel after a bath. Avoid scrubbing vigorously, especially on the affected areas – just pat dry gently.
7. Apply Ice Cubes
For instant relief, put some ice cubes in a cloth to make an ‘ice pouch’ and press gently on the affected area. Don’t leave it on for too long, just enough to cool the area down. It’ll take care of the stinging feeling too.
8. Make Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe Vera is known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, making it perfect for prickly heat. Make aloe vera gel at home using aloe leaves and apply it on the affected skin. Leave for twenty minutes and then wipe off with a soft towel.
9. Use Cucumbers
Cucumbers are great for summer, and not just to eat – they are cooling for the skin as well. You can place thin cucumber slices on the skin but if they keep falling off, grind the cucumbers into a puree and apply on the skin to cool it.
10. Grind Neem Leaves
Neem leaves are traditionally used to treat a wide variety of skin conditions, and they are just as effective for prickly heat. Grind neem leaves to a paste and apply on the affected skin. Leave on for 15 minutes and then wipe off. If you fear an allergy of any kind, do apply a patch test first.
In general, it’s best to avoid oil-based creams and lotions during summer. If you wear your baby in a sling or carry her around all day, you might want to stop doing that during summer as your body heat can aggravate her prickly heat. Ensure that your kids are properly hydrated and that they eat healthy, nutritious food during summers. With a few simple tactics, you’ll soon be able to get rid of your child’s prickly heat and have him happy and smiling in no time!