Heat Rash (Prickly Heat): Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment


Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, is a skin condition that occurs when sweat ducts become blocked. This can happen when the weather is hot and humid, or when you wear too many layers of clothing or tight-fitting clothing. Heat rash is more common in babies and young children because their sweat glands are not fully developed.


The most common symptom of heat rash is a rash of small, red bumps that may appear anywhere on the body, but are most common in areas where sweat tends to collect, such as the neck, chest, back, and groin. The rash may also be accompanied by itching, burning, or a prickly sensation.


Heat rash usually goes away on its own within a few days after you cool down and avoid sweating. However, there are some things you can do to relieve the symptoms, such as:

  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Apply a cool compress to the affected area.
  • Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing.
  • Avoid scratching the rash, as this can break open the blisters and lead to infection.
  • Use calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to soothe the itching.

If the heat rash is severe or does not improve within a few days, see a doctor. They may prescribe stronger medication, such as an antibiotic ointment or oral antihistamine.


The best way to prevent heat rash is to stay cool and dry. Here are some tips:

  • Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing.
  • Avoid strenuous activity during hot weather.
  • Take breaks in the shade or air conditioning.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid using heavy lotions or creams.

If you have to be in hot, humid weather, take frequent showers or baths and change your clothes often.