A heat rash, often called prickly heat, can occur in anyone but is particularly common in newborns and infants. Heat rash appears as tiny red bumps surrounded by redness on the skin, and the rash can be quite itchy so watch out for possible scratching. Although not painful, heat rashes can be uncomfortable for an infant and can cause some distress depending on the severity of it. Heat rashes often occur in the folds of a baby’s skin and on parts of the body where there is excessive sweating which can’t be evaporated away due to excess clothing, nappies or over heated moist environments. Because of this, babies sometimes also experience a heat rash if wearing a hat or the TiMband.
This post will explore what causes a heat rash, baby heat rash treatments and the best ways of avoiding heat rash.
Causes of a Heat Rash
A heat rash is caused by sweat not being able to escape from the surface of the skin and evaporate. This can result in the sweat glands looking a little like small pimples on the skin and as babies sweat glands are not fully developed the sweat glands can easily get blocked and cause a heat rash.
It’s therefore possible for a heat rash to occur when a baby overheats and is in a warm and/or humid environment. Once a baby is too warm their body will try to regulate the body temperature by sweating unsuccessfully, resulting in a heat rash. Tight or excess clothing can trap sweat and make a rash worse.
Although heat rashes aren’t serious, they are a sign that your little one is too warm. It’s therefore important to take the necessary steps to cool them down and help them to feel more comfortable.
Baby Heat Rash Recommendations
Most heat rashes will clear up within a few days, but in the meantime, here’s some tips for what you can do to ease your baby’s discomfort:
– Firstly, cool the room and the baby. If it’s summer, put a fan in the room to lower the temperature or open a window to allow some breeze to enter the room.
– If possible, remove clothing from the affected area or dress the baby in light and loose cotton clothing.
– Keep the skin cool.
– DO NOT try to dry sweat with a towel as this further clogs the baby’s pores. Instead, allow the sweat to air dry or use a fan.
– Use calamine lotion. Smooth plenty of this on the skin (avoiding eyes), this can be particularly useful if baby seems more irritable when you touch the skin.
– Use hydrocortisone cream. Only use this under the advice of a pharmacist or doctor if the rash is severe. Equally, Sudocreme is also a great heat rash cream for babies!
– Don’t use regular ointments and lotions as they can trap the moisture and make the rash worse.
Take your baby to the doctor if they have a fever, the rash doesn’t clear after three or four days, or if the rash appears to be getting worse.
TiMband and Heat Rash
Some parents find that their baby develops a heat rash when wearing the TiMband. The helmet is a new addition to your baby’s body and although their body will soon adapt to this extra layer, they can become warm and sweaty at first. To account for this, minimise the layers that your little one is dressed in. Equally, warm summer temperatures (especially the ones we are experiencing this year) can make a heat rash more likely when wearing the helmet.
If a heat rash develops:
– Simply apply some Sudocreme to the rash and continue wear.
– Minimise clothing to allow the body to cool down faster.
– Take care to keep the baby cool whilst they are wearing the TiMband.
– Remove the helmet for short periods of time whilst reapplying Sudocreme to help clear the heat rash.
Heat rashes are not serious for babies and are easily treatable. Being aware of the causes of heat rashes can help make them more preventable!
When to be Concerned about a Rash
A rash can be an early sign of meningitis and so it can be confusing for parents as to whether their little one has something serious or not. To make this easier, meningitis is usually accompanied by these other symptoms:
• a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
• feeling and being sick
• irritability and a lack of energy
• aching muscles and joints
• breathing quickly
• cold hands and feet
• pale, mottled skin
• a stiff neck
• a dislike of bright lights
• fits (seizures)
Babies may also:
• refuse feeds
• be agitated and not want to be picked up
• have a bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle)
• be floppy or unresponsive
• have an unusual high-pitched cry
• have a stiff body
These symptoms can develop in any order and some may not appear at all.
If a rash doesn’t fade under a glass, it’s a sign of blood poisoning by meningitis and you should get medical advice right away. The rash can be harder to see on dark skin so check for spots on paler areas like the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, the tummy, inside the eyelids, and the roof of the mouth.
If you are concerned immediately seek medical help for your baby.
For other advice on illness, check out our previous blog on how illnesses can affect wearing a plagiocephaly helmet. Similarly, browse the rest of our blog for more advice on a variety of health and flat head syndrome related topics!