How to calm prickly heat

We all welcome the sunny weather, but it can take its toll on our skin. As I write this in mid-July we seem to have had endless days of hot, dry sunshine which reminds me of summer childhoods past, but my own son is now struggling with prickly heat.

Prickly heat rash is uncomfortable and itchy and happens when sweat becomes trapped under the skin. Whilst it is a harmless condition and should clear up on its own after a few days, it creates redness, swelling and an itchy, prickly feeling. Babies often get it as their sweat glands aren’t fully developedand they can’t regulate their temperature as well as adults and children.

The neck, shoulders and chest are the most common places for prickly heat to appear. Keeping your skin cool will help avoid sweating and further irritation. You can do this by wearing loose, cotton clothing and avoiding man-made fabrics that make it difficult for the skin to breathe. Avoid friction and rubbing from clothes. Swop bedding for lightweight cotton sheets and take cool baths and showers. If you are lucky enough to be on holiday, a dip in the pool can stop sweating.

When irritation sets in, apply a damp cold cloth to the affected area and try not to scratch. An ice pack wrapped it a towel will also cool the skin. Patting or tapping the rash is less damaging to the skin and won’t exacerbate the problem. Excessive scratching can create an open wound that could get infected.

To avoid further irritation, use shower gels, soaps and creams without perfume or artificial fragrances. Opt for natural skincare and sun creams as they contain less pore clogging ingredients that won’t block sweat glands. A fragrance-free mineral SPF will minimise itching. Choose shower gels and shampoos with no sulphates or use a natural soap or shampoo bar to help clear pores and cleanse your body and hair gently.

Once you’ve tried some self-help measures you could chat to your local pharmacist who will likely recommend calamine lotion, antihistamine tablets or hydrocortisone cream for over 10 year olds.