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Are heat rashes becoming your common skin problem during the summer months? Ayurveda advises simple home remedies and a pitta diet to prevent the condition.

Frequent sun exposure, tight clothes and hot weather conditions can all trigger an itchy heat rash, which is not just aesthetically unpleasant but also extremely uncomfortable. Contemporary medication may provide a quick fix to the condition. But without a holistic approach, heat rashes are likely to become a recurrent problem.

Read on to know the best natural remedies and diets that can help you get rid of heat rash once and for all.

Our Ayurvedic Doctor Says

“Ayurveda categorizes Prickly heat/ Miliaria rubra under Pittaja Masoorika. The word itself means lentil-like rashes triggered by Pitta. Pitta prakriti individuals sweat more and are more sensitive to triggers, and thus experience heat rashes frequently.”

Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix

What Is Heat Rash?

Sweat glands and sebaceous gland vector

Medically termed as miliaria [1], a heat rash or prickly heat is a frequently observed condition in both children and adults who experience excessive sweating or are exposed to hot and humid climates. It occurs when a blockage of sweat glands and ducts obstructs sweat secretion. This causes sweat to flow back into the dermis and the epidermis, leading to a red, itchy rash. Heat rash is classified into three types:

1. Miliaria Crystallina

This type of heat rash commonly affects babies. It causes small vesicles under the surface of the skin that are filled with sweat. Heat rash on babies often occurs on the face, arms, legs and back.

2. Miliaria Rubra

miliaria on the back skin asian man

This occurs when eccrine sweat glands present in the deeper layers of the skin are blocked. It is characterized by a red, inflamed, itchy rash which is generally referred to as prickly heat. If these lesions get infected and accumulate pus, the condition is then termed as miliaria pustulosa.

3. Miliaria Profunda

Also known as tropical anhidrosis [2], this type of heat rash occurs due to sweat leakage in the inner layers of your skin (dermis). This causes skin-toned, deep, hard bumps/ papules on the affected areas.

According to Ayurveda, an aggravation of the pitta dosha can lead to heat rashes. Hence, the condition is referred to as ‘Pittaja Masoorika’. People who have a pitta prakriti are more susceptible to heat rashes.

What Does Heat Rash Look Like?

A heat rash can have the appearance of small sweat-filled vesicles under the skin or red inflamed large bumps covering a considerable area of your skin. Heat rashes often affect the folds of your skin where sweat tends to accumulate such as the neck, under the breasts, scrotum etc. However, they can also occur on the arms, back, chest, thighs and other areas that are covered with tight-fitting clothes.

What Causes Heat Rash?

1. Hyperhidrosis

This is a condition that causes excessive sweating. Heat rash may accompany this condition if the excess sweat is unable to evaporate and gets trapped under the skin.

2. Hot Climate

Hot, humid climates can cause frequent sweating, leading to a heat rash.

3. Excessive Physical Activity

Strenuous physical activity can increase body heat. Your body tries to reduce this heat and maintain optimum body temperature through sweating. However, long periods of exercise may lead to a heat rash.

4. Tight Clothes

Clothes made of hydrophobic materials like polyester or nylon trap sweat on your skin. Moreover, tightly fitted clothes cause friction which leads to excess dead cells, and blockage of skin pores and sweat glands. Such obstruction can cause a heat rash.

5. Prolonged Bed Rest

Heat rash is often observed in bed-ridden patients. This is usually due to poor ventilation in the sleeping area and lack of frequent shift in the sleeping posture. Areas such as the back, upper arms and scrotum are commonly affected.

6. Undeveloped Sweat Glands

miliaria, prickly heat on baby's back

The sweat glands of a newborn are still in the developing stage. Thus they are often vulnerable to internal damage with the rise in body temperature due to external or internal conditions like a fever. Ruptured sweat glands can cause perspiration to leak into the skin, leading to a heat rash (miliaria crystallina).

7. Oral Medicines

Medications such Dextroamphetamine (used to treat ADHD) and certain thyroid medicines are known to increase body temperatures, which may cause a heat rash.

8. Pregnancy/ Menopause

During pregnancy due to a fluctuation of hormones, your body heat increases. This can lead to a heat rash (prickly heat). Menopause also causes sudden spikes in body temperatures known as hot flashes, which may trigger hives and rashes.

9. Fever

While a fever may rarely be the cause of a heat rash, it can aggravate an existing heat rash condition.

Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, says, “Ayurveda categorizes Prickly heat/ Miliaria rubra under Pittaja Masoorika. The word itself means lentil-like rashes triggered by Pitta.”

“Pitta aggravating factors like heat, summer and food items can trigger a heat rash. Pitta prakriti individuals sweat more and are more sensitive to triggers, and thus experience heat rashes frequently. Spicy food and food that resemble the Drava (flowy) quality of pitta, like watermelons, musk melons, and ripe cucumbers can worsen the rash too,” she adds.

What Are The Symptoms Of Heat Rash In Children And Adults?

heat rash on the arm skin of asian woman

  • Tiny sweat-filled vesicles/ blisters
  • Skin-toned hard bumps
  • Red inflamed or pus-filled papules
  • Itchiness
  • Skin irritation/ prickling sensation
  • Inflammation
  • Bacterial infection

Tiny sterilized seashells were used to gently pop heat rash blisters (miliaria crystallina) on children in the olden days.

How Do You Get Rid Of Heat Rashes?

A. Home Remedies

1. Cold Compress

Compressing with an ice pack 2 to 3 times a day can help reduce the prickling sensation associated with a heat rash. Cool showers also help bring down body heat and calm heat rash symptoms in the affected areas.

2. Boric Acid And Talcum Powder

Application of boric acid powder mixed with talcum powder is an age-old treatment for inflamed heat rashes on adult skin. The antiseptic qualities of boric acid helps treat bacterial infections and skin inflammations. However, it is advisable to use a small quantity and avoid sensitive areas like the face to prevent adverse reactions.

3. Menthol

Menthol Crystal and Kitchen Mint

Applying menthol [3], extracted from peppermint oil can help prevent burning sensations in the areas affected by heat rash. It is available in the form of oils, sprays and creams and is safe for topical application.

4. Chamomile/ Marigold

Both these flowers are excellent home remedies for heat rash. With powerful antiseptic, antioxidant and skin-soothing abilities, applying a paste of chamomile [4] or marigold leaves and petals can help treat heat rash symptoms.

5. White Camphor Oil

White camphor oil is often used to relieve pain, skin inflammation and skin irritations. Further, its mild antibacterial properties can prevent the prickly heat rash lesions from getting infected.

Using it twice a day can aid the healing process. Pure camphor oil can be too strong for the skin, hence dilute it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil and apply on the affected areas. Wash off after 10 to 15 minutes.

6. Coconut Oil

Traditional medicine advises the application of coconut oil on heat rashes for quick healing. It has amazing skin-soothing and antibacterial properties that help relieve heat rash symptoms.

7. Cucumber Juice

While eating cucumber keeps your body cool, applying fresh cucumber juice on skin affected by heat rash can also help to relieve burning sensations. Cucumber juice is also known to improve skin complexion and can prevent the formation of marks on the skin, which are sometimes caused during the healing process of severe miliaria rubra.

8. Onion Juice

Lauded for its skin brightening properties, onion juice is also an excellent remedy for heat rashes on the face and other parts of the body.

The natural compound quercetin [5], a powerful antioxidant present in onions, also demonstrates anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties. Thus applying onion juice on heat rash affected areas can reduce swelling and itchy sensations.

9. Arnica

Extracted from the flowers of Arnica montana [6], arnica is a popular cure for skin conditions, minor injuries and body pain. Widely used in homeopathy, it is available in the form of gels, sprays, lotions and oral medication. Applying arnica on heat rash can reduce swelling and discomfort in the affected areas.

10. Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a common cure for various skin diseases. Owing to its astringent properties and ability to reduce skin inflammation, applying witch hazel on heat rashes can bring instant relief. However, witch hazel is better suited for adult skin and is best avoided in treating heat rash on babies.

11. Calamine Lotion

Calamine lotion is a skin-soothing topical ointment commonly used in most households to treat bug bites, minor cuts and burns, pruritus and heat rashes. Calamine lotion consists of zinc carbonate and ferric oxide and studies show that it can be safely used on both children's skin as well as on adults.

12. Gram Flour

Gram flour is a good remedy for mild heat rashes on the skin. It helps to drain out excess sweat from the sweat-filled blisters and also has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. Mix gram flour with a little water and apply the paste on the affected area. Leave it on for 10 minutes and wipe off with a damp towel.

13. Colloidal Oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal can give you quick relief from prickly heat rash. You can either add it to your bath and soak in it for 15 minutes before rinsing off or make a paste with water and apply on the affected areas. Colloidal oatmeal [7] has anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties that soothe your skin and prevent further aggravation of your heat rash.

B. Ayurveda Methods

1. Ayurvedic Herbs

neem leaves and turmeric root with powder

Topical application of the following herbs can help treat heat rashes on the skin:

A. Kumari

Kumari or aloe vera [8], is a widely used Ayurvedic herb known for its cooling, pitta-pacifying, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Applying fresh aloe vera gel on the heat rash can relieve skin irritation and quickly heal the affected skin areas. Aloe vera also prevents post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in the rash-affected areas.

B. Sandalwood

Sandalwood is one of the best herbs used to treat pitta-related skin disorders. Its cooling nature calms the skin and its antimicrobial properties prevent infection of the existing lesions. Applying a paste made of white or red sandalwood powder and water/ rose water can quickly get rid of heat rash.

C. Manjistha

Manjistha is a skin rejuvenator, used for centuries to treat a variety of skin diseases. It has powerful blood cleansing properties that remove harmful ama toxins from the blood. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to heal inflammatory conditions like a heat rash. Manjistha powder can be mixed with coconut oil and applied on the affected areas for accelerated healing.

D. Haridra

Haridra or turmeric contains a natural anti-inflammatory compound known as curcumin [9]. This also lends turmeric its antibacterial properties. Applying a paste of raw turmeric or dry turmeric powder mixed with coconut oil helps to heal the heat rash symptoms, strengthen your skin immunity and prevent susceptibility to such skin conditions.

E. Neem

The antibacterial properties of neem need no introduction. Applying a paste of fresh neem leaves can quickly heal heat rash on the face and other body parts and also improve your overall skin condition.

F. Shatavari

Also known as asparagus racemosus, shatavari, calms the pitta dosha owing to its cooling properties. It also clarifies your blood and reduces swelling, making it an effective treatment of heat rash, skin allergies and acne conditions.

G. Patola

The leaves of the vegetable patola or pointed gourd [10], an Ayurvedic herb, have multifarious skin benefits. It is a rich source of vitamins A and C, alkaloids, tannins, triterpenes and saponins. Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of the plant help cure various Kushta rogas (skin diseases) including heat rashes.

H. Vetiver

A natural coolant, topical application and consumption of vetiver helps to bring down body heat and control excessive sweating. It is used to treat fevers, heat rashes, skin irritations, burning sensations and various other skin disorders related to vata-pitta aggravations in the body.

2. Ayurvedic Treatment

A. Ayurvedic Oils

Ayurvedic oils such as the Chandanadi thailam, which has sandalwood as its main component and Durvadi thailam which comprises of Durva grass can effectively treat heat rashes on the face, hands and other body parts with regular application.

B. Internal Medications

The following Ayurvedic medicines can be consumed for treating heat rashes on the body. However, it is advisable to consult your Ayurvedic doctor to know the correct dosage as per your Prakriti and severity of the heat rash.

  • Godanti Bhasma
  • Usheerasava
  • Chandrakala Rasa

3. Pitta-Pacifying Diet

An Ayurveda recommended pitta-pacifying diet can help prevent the occurrence of prickly heat rashes on the body.

  • Consume fruits and vegetables that have a high water content such as tender cucumber, pointed gourd, celery, water chestnut, pumpkin, beans, sweet potatoes, carrots etc. This keeps your body well hydrated.
  • Including raw, uncooked ghee in your diet helps balance the pitta dosha.
  • Add lotus stalk to your soup or salads. It helps to calm the pitta dosha and prevent heat rashes.
  • Soy products are good for people with a pitta-prakriti.
  • Include cooling spices like fennel in your diet. Garnish your food with coriander leaves.
  • Consume neem leaves at the start of your meals (common practice in the Bengali cuisine).
  • Avoid sour foods and spices that increase body heat such as pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, fenugreek, cumin, mustard etc.

Vedix Tip: Boil a teaspoon of fennel seeds and rock sugar (misri) each for 2 mins. Cool, strain and drink the water to reduce excess body heat.

How To Prevent A Heat Rash?

  • Drink plenty of water to prevent your body temperature from rising. This reduces the risk of a heat rash, especially in bedridden patients.
  • For naturally hot bodies or those who experience excessive sweating, stay in well-ventilated, cool areas.
  • Avoid direct exposure to the sun. Stay indoors during the peak sun hours.
  • Wear materials that easily absorb your sweat such as cotton, especially during workout. These are soft on the skin and prevent the accumulation of sweat, thus reducing chances of a heat rash.
  • Take a shower right after your workout session. Gently exfoliate your whole body 2 to 3 times a week to prevent clogged pores.
  • Use non-comedogenic skincare products.
  • Drink beverages that cool your body such as tender coconut water, buttermilk, cucumber juice, mint juice etc.
  • Eat an Ayurveda recommended diet that helps regulate internal body heat.

When Should You Call Your Doctor About Heat Rash?

While minor conditions of heat rashes heal on their own with simple home remedies, it is important to check if there are other symptoms accompanying a heat rash.

  • If heat rash on a baby accompanies a fever, it is advisable to consult your doctor.
  • For adults, heat rashes that get infected and secrete pus may need medical attention.
  • Also speak to your doctor, if heat rash is a frequently occurring condition, as it may indicate internal health conditions such as impairment of thermoregulation.

Frequently Asked Questions On Heat Rash

1. How Long Do Heat Rashes Last?

Heat rashes on babies usually go away within 3 to 4 days. However, in case of miliaria rubra, which is more frequent in adults, the lesions may take slightly longer to heal.

2. Will A Heat Rash Go Away On Its Own?

Usually heat rashes go away on their own if they are the only condition. Simple home and Ayurvedic remedies can help it heal faster. However, if the heat rash is a symptom of another health condition, it may persist till the main problem is cured.

3. Who Is At Risk For Heat Rash?

The following people are more likely to develop a heat rash:

  • Infants with immature sweat glands
  • Sportspersons
  • People involved in strenuous physical activities.
  • People exposed to hot climates and constant outdoor work.
  • People with health conditions such as hyperhidrosis, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid problems and others.

The Last Word

Heat rash is a common condition that affects both infants and adults. However, if the condition is not being triggered by medication or another disease, it can be easily averted. Careful selection of foods, good skin hygiene, plenty of water and simple natural remedies are effective solutions to this benign but highly uncomfortable skin condition.

Know Your Dosha Now

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