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When Life Heats Up – The Lowdown on Heat Rash

Relaxing young child in sunsetNow that we’re in the thick of summer with high humidity, hot temperatures and lots of time spent outside, you and your child may have already been introduced to one of summer’s not-so-fun side effects– heat rash.   Also known as prickly heat or miliaria rubra, heat rash appears as red, itchy, pimply-like little bumps or even blisters, and it’s your big cue that you and Baby have overdone your time outside.  Heat rash is something that can happen to anyone, big or small, but babies tend to be especially susceptible.  As a mom, it’s good to know the facts on heat rash, what it is and what you can do about it.  So, let’s explore this hot topic.

When your child gets overheated, his body sweats in an effort to cool down.  With heat rash, the sweat ducts and pores get clogged up, resulting in the small bumps and irritation that you see on the skin.  Heat rash tends to be more common in children and babies because their pores are so much smaller than an adults’, and you’ll generally see it develop in the folds of your child’s skin or parts of his body when his clothing fits.

By itself, heat rash isn’t usually serious.  However, it can be uncomfortable, it can lead towards more serious conditions like infection, and in general, is something you’d like to avoid.  So, what can you do to prevent this unwanted skin condition?

  • Don’t dress to impress:  Use good judgment and dress your child in light, loose, breathable clothing in the summer time.  Don’t assume your baby should be any more heavily dressed than you are.
  • Fun in the sun:  Summer is definitely a time when we’re all outside, but be very aware of how long your baby is outside, especially in high temperatures.  Keep your child hydrated, seek out shade and definitely avoid the hottest parts of the day when you can.
  • Cool as the flip side of the pillow:  Heat rash tends to love humidity so keep you baby’s skin cool and dry.  Additionally, make sure your child’s bedroom is kept at a nice, cool temperature for sleeping.
  • Watch the swaddling: Swaddling is one way to soothe our babies and help them sleep during those first three months. Watch the temperature though. If you notice heat rash developing over their bodies, it might the swaddling.  Make sure your baby is only wearing a short-sleeve onesie with the swaddle and make sure the room temperature is nice and cool (70-72 degrees when swaddling).

We all know that despite the best efforts, life happens.  So, what do you do if your baby does develop heat rash?  The good news is that it clears up fairly easily and quickly.  Here are a few tips to help the process along:

  • Play it cool:  Very simply, cool your child down.  Move him inside or to a better shaded area; loosen clothing that may be irritating the rash, and expose the skin to nice, cool air.
  • Soak it up:  As your child becomes cooler, you can also wrap him in a nice, soft cotton towel to help absorb the sweat.  Make sure you don’t rub your baby’s skin as that can irritate the skin further.
  • Rub a dub dub, put baby in the tub:  A nice, lukewarm bath with a touch of baking soda (two teaspoons per gallon) can be very soothing for your child.
  • Go natural:  You don’t want to use ointments or heavy creams which will typically aggravate the rash.
  • Look, don’t touch:  Discourage your child from scratching the infected area as you want to avoid possibility of an infection.  Make sure your baby’s fingernails are trimmed well, and if needed, put little socks on his hands at night.
  • Treatment: If the heat rash is a pimply “prickly-heat” rash that is inflamed and red, then over-the- counter 1% hydrocortisone cream can be used twice daily for 1 to 2  days. This is a common recommendation from dermatologists and pediatricians.

In the event the rash doesn’t go away or gets worse, your baby experiences fever or you see symptoms such as drainage or swelling around the area – contact your pediatrician or dermatologist.  But, know that these are the exceptions, not the norm.  With a little extra TLC, your baby’s, precious skin will be kissably soft and smooth again!

Enjoy the summer! ~ The Baby Pibu™ Team


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