Let’s face it, it’s hot. Sometimes stepping outside feels like walking into an oven. And all of that heat can lead to sweat and lots of sweat can mean heat rash. Here’s the story on newborn heat rash and how to stop heat rash on babies.
Also known as prickly heat or miliaria, heat rash appears as red, itchy, pimply-like or blister-like little bumps. Heat rash is something that can happen to anyone, big or small, but babies tend to be especially susceptible because of their immature sweat glands and ducts.
Why does heat rash occur?
When your baby 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 adult’s, and you’ll generally see it develop in the folds of your child’s skin or parts of his body when his clothing fits.
There are four different types of heat rash:
- Miliaria crystalline: This type appears as clear, small, blister-like bumps. The blister-like bumps easily break since these form from sweat ducts that are in the outermost layer of the skin.
- Miliaria rubra: This deeper type appears as red bumps that may be itchy and sometimes blister-like. This type is known as prickly heat because of the prickly sensation it causes.
- Miliaria pustulosa: This occurs when the blister-like bumps become more inflamed and pus-filled.
- Miliaria profunda: This is even a deeper type of heat rash that affects the second layer of skin, dermis, and results in more firm reddish bumps.
How can you prevent heat rash on babies?
- Watch the swaddling. Swaddling mimics that nice, tight, cuddly sensation of being inside a mother’s womb. As you try to re-create that environment with swaddling during a newborn’s first few months, watch what your baby is wearing. A simple onesie is all your baby needs to wear when swaddled. Anything more can create over-heating.
- Be cautious on clothing layers. Dress your baby in light, loose, cotton clothing, especially in the spring and summer times. When your baby is lying in an infant carrier for long periods of times, more heat is created and this increases the risk of heat rash.
- Be mindful during summer. Summer is definitely a time when we’re all outside, but be 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.
- Maintain a cool room temperature. If your baby is swaddled, a room temperature of less than 75°F is recommended.
What do you do if your baby develops heat rash?
The good news about baby heat rash is that it clears up fairly easily and quickly on its own. 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 it further.
- Rub a dub dub, put baby in the tub. A nice, lukewarm bath with a touch of baking soda (2 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 to avoid the possibility of an infection. Make sure your baby’s fingernails are trimmed well, and if needed, put little socks on his hands at night.
When should you worry?
The biggest concern with heat rash is the development of a secondary infection so here is a short list of what to look for. If you notice these symptoms, bring your baby to the pediatrician for further evaluation.
- Pus-filled blisters
- Red streaks in the skin
- Fever greater than 100.4°F in newborns
- Swollen lymph nodes
We hope that these tips will help you and your baby avoid baby heat rash and stay cool in these last few summer months!
For more information, check out our other articles on heat rash.