While summer is a particularly pleasant time of year for many, it can turn into a nightmare for those who suffer from prickly heat, also called sweat rash or heat rash. In medical terms, this condition is known as miliaria. It is a common skin problem experienced by adults, children and even infants.
It mostly happens to people who live in hot, humid climates. Living in such conditions leads to excessive sweating that can cause the sweat glands to become blocked.
When they subsequently burst open, it irritates the skin and results in prickly heat. Other causes of prickly heat are bacterial infections and underdeveloped sweat glands. Being overweight and leading a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk for it.
Prickly heat can appear anywhere on the body, but it usually affects the feet, back, neck, groin, hands, armpits, abdomen and upper chest. Common symptoms are mild inflammation, stinging or prickling sensations, and small red round bumps or rashes that itch.
Typically prickly heat resolves naturally as the weather conditions improve. But when it strikes in the heat of the summer, the first thing you must do is cool down your body.
You can stay in an air-conditioned room, or take a cold shower or bath to minimize the prickly sensations on your skin. You can also try some home remedies that are very effective and do not have side effects.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for prickly heat.
Oatmeal is a popular treatment for prickly rash due to its anti-irritating, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. It will have a soothing effect on the skin and give instant relief from inflammation and itching caused by prickly heat.
- 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.
2. Cold Treatment
Using a cold compress over the affected area will provide immediate relief from inflammation, prickling sensations 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.
3. Sandalwood Powder
Sandalwood has soothing properties that can effectively eliminate prickly heat symptoms. It can also help cool your body temperature, which is essential for fast recovery.
- Prepare a paste by mixing together equal amounts of sandalwood powder and rose water. Apply this paste on the affected skin, and leave it on until it dries. Rinse it off with cold water. Follow this remedy twice daily for a week.
- Alternatively, mix two tablespoons each of sandalwood powder and coriander powder with enough rose water to make a thick paste. Smear the paste on the affected area and let it dry on its own. Wash with cold water and pat dry your skin. Repeat twice daily for a week.
- You can also sprinkle sandalwood powder as a talcum over the affected areas after taking a shower.
4. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another useful remedy for prickly heat treatment. It works as a gentle exfoliating agent that helps unclog pores by removing dead skin cells, dirt and other impurities. This in turn relieves the itching and inflammation associated with prickly heat.
- Add one teaspoon of baking soda to one cup of cold water.
- Soak a clean washcloth in the solution and wring out the excess water.
- Put the washcloth over the affected area for five to 10 minutes.
- Repeat four or five times a day for a week.
5. Fuller’s Earth
Fuller’s earth, also known as multani mitti, is another popular home remedy for treating prickly heat. The medicinal properties of fuller’s earth will lessen the irritation and reduce the inflammation as well as itching.
- Mix five tablespoons of fuller’s earth with two or three tablespoons of rose water to make a thick paste.
- Apply the paste on the affected areas.
- Allow it to dry on its own, and then wash it off with cold water.
- Use this simple treatment once daily for a week.
6. Margosa Leaves
Margosa leaves, also known as neem, have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that can help control the symptoms of prickly heat like itching and inflammation.
- Grind a handful of fresh neem leaves into a paste. Apply the paste on the affected skin and allow it to dry on its own. Rinse it off with cool water. Follow this treatment once daily for a week.
- Alternatively, you can simmer a handful of neem leaves in two cups of water for 20 minutes. Strain the solution and allow it to cool. Soak a cotton cloth in the solution and place it over the affected area for five to 10 minutes. Do this four or five times daily for a week.
- You can also create a paste of 15 to 20 crushed neem leaves mixed with one-half cup of gram flour (also known as besan) and a little water. Spread it on the affected area, leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse it off with cool water. Use it daily for a few days or about a week.
7. Aloe Vera
Owing to its anti-inflammatory, soothing and cooling properties, aloe vera is an excellent home remedy for prickly heat.
- Extract fresh aloe vera gel from an aloe leaf.
- Rub the gel over the affected skin.
- Leave it on for at least 20 minutes, and then take a cold bath.
- Do this at least two times a day for about a week.
8. Gram Flour
Gram flour helps absorb extra moisture off your body, which in turn helps treat prickly heat. Also, it removes dead skin cells, opens up clogged pores and provides relief from inflammation.
- Add a little water to two to three tablespoons of gram flour to make a paste.
- Apply it on the affected area.
- Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes, and then wash it off with cold water.
- Do this once daily for about a week.
9. Raw Mangos
Raw mangos are one of the best foods for effectively cooling down your body and giving you relief from itching and other symptoms of prickly heat.
- Boil two thoroughly washed raw mangos in two cups of water until they become soft.
- When cool, remove the mangos from the water and squeeze out the pulp.
- Add the pulp to the cooled water, along with rock salt and sugar according to your taste.
- Drink it once or twice daily for a week to speed up the healing process.
Cucumbers have a cooling effect that soothes and helps cool the affected skin. It can also give relief from itching.
- Cut a cucumber into thin slices. Soak them for a few minutes in a bowl of cold water mixed with two tablespoons of lemon juice. Place the soaked cucumber slices on the affected areas for 10 minutes. Do this three times daily for a week.
- You can also rub cucumber pulp on the affected area. Leave it on for 30 minutes, and then wash it off with cool water. This will cool the area and lessen the itching. Do this several times a day for a week to promote healing.
- As cucumber has high water content, also eat it daily to keep the body hydrated.
Usually heat rash disappears within a week using these natural treatments. If you do not get relief within a week or if some kind of skin infection develops, seek medical help.
Here are some additional tips to prevent prickly heat:
- Do not wear tight clothing that can irritate the skin.
- Sleep in a cool and well ventilated area.
- Avoid using creams or oil that can block the skin’s pores.
- Drink plenty of water during hot weather.
- When outside, try to stay in shaded areas.
- Take cool baths, if possible two or three times a day.
- Avoid exposure to excessive heat and humidity whenever possible.