Symptoms Care and Treatment of
Baby Heat Rash
There are many names for baby heat rash including prickly heat rash and
Baby heat rash is caused by overheating. It occurs when the
glands are not able to keep up with the cooling needs of the body. In a
newborn, this can be due to immature or obstructed sweat
glands. Symptoms appear under diapers in the groin area, under tight
fitting clothing, and other areas of the body including
the armpits, upper chest
and neck. It may even spread across the scalp or forehead if your child
wears hats. Treatment involves keeping the baby cool, dressing the baby
in loose fitting cotton clothes, or just a diaper. To help
body cool, try baby powder made from cornstarch. Move the
a cool room that has low levels of humidity such as an air conditioned
Causes of Baby Heat Rash
The causes of infant heat rash include:
- Perspiration from being wrapped too warmly
- Heat and playing outside/inside in the heat
- Clogged sweat ducts, jammed with staphylococcus bacteria
- Clogged hair follicles, also plugged up with bacteria from
If the sweat duct or hair follicles can’t sweat
naturally, they form miniature blisters, and the sweat left on the skin
causes irritation and thus a skin rash. If your baby gets too hot and
can’t cool down because they can’t sweat properly, they face the risk
of overheating and dehydrating. This could result in heat stroke or
Symptoms of Baby Heat Rash
The first signal that your child may have heat rash is usually the
red rash and small blisters in various locations on the body. There are
four categories of baby heat rash, and the last one, miliaria
pustulosa, is very rare in babies.
Those categories are:
Your baby may have signs and symptoms that include the
- Miliaria crystalline (also spelled crystallina) –a scaly
small watery blisters.
in Older Child
Source: Dr. Mahmoud Hijazy, Principles of Pediatric
- Miliaria rubra (prickly heat) – shows the same small watery
crystalline, but tiny red bumps or patches are present around the
affected areas. This is the most common form of baby heat rash.
Miliaria Rubra on
Child (Prickly Heat Rash)
Source: Dr. Mahmoud Hijazy, Principles of Pediatric
- Miliaria profunda – easy to spot due to its skin-colored
- Miliaria pustulosa – pustules form due to bacterial
- Small red rash areas with watery blisters that itch
- Small red rash areas with watery blisters, that may not itch
- Larger lesions that are flesh colored and may itch severely
- Signs of dehydration
- Signs of heat exhaustion
- Clammy skin
- Sweaty skin
- Fever and chills (rare - see doctor right away)
- Pus drainage (rare - see doctor right away)
- Pain, swelling or redness (rare - see doctor right away)
- Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
(rare - see
doctor right away)
Heat Rash Diagnosis
Usually, if you catch heat rash before it gets too serious, it
will fade away on its own. If it doesn’t, call your doctor. Heat
rash is evident on visual examination. The same holds true for the
other forms of this rash; again, it is diagnosed on appearance and by
your answers to questions about heat exposure.
If your baby has a more advanced form of baby heat rash, the doctor may
want skin cultures, skin biopsies or want to exam skin scrapings under
a microscope. They may also run tests for bacterial and fungal
infections, allergies and eczema.
Treatment of Baby Heat Rash
There are several options for treating this condition. Most
have to do with keeping a baby cool and out of the heat and humidity.
Once out the heat, the baby's natural ability to sweat can
return the skin to normal.
- Cool your baby down and ensure they get lots of fluids to
- Lower the temperature in your home, or get into shade and
- Wash rash areas gently with soap for sensitive skin and dry
- Give baby a coolish bath.
- Put clean cotton material under skin folds to soak up
- You could try ice packs, but ask your doctor about this, as
not want to leave them on too long. In addition, you will want a thin
cloth between the skin and the ice pack. Don’t put an ice pack directly
on your baby’s sensitive skin.
- Hydrocortisone OTC often helps tougher cases of baby heat
- Prescription cream from the doctor, such as triamcinolone
- If your baby has a bacterial infection, your doctor may
- Antihistamines (Claritin or Benadryl) may be considered,
but speak to
the doctor about the right dose for your baby.
- Aloe vera cream lotions or gel.
- Honey paste rubbed gently into the skin.
- Calamine lotion.
- Cool oatmeal baths
- Cool Epsom salts baths.
- Cool bath with baking soda.
- Talcum powder to help keep baby dry, If you don’t have
talcum powder, cornstarch will work.
- Don’t over dress baby.
- Keep room temperatures cooler in Spring/Summer.
- Use cotton clothing, not synthetic fabrics.
- Apply baby powder made from cornstarch.
The bottom line when treating heat rash in infants is to catch it
early, keep the infant in a cool area, and dress the baby in just a
diaper or loose fitting cotton clothes. Corn starch baby powder
can help keep the infant cool. Symptoms should go away on their
own. As with any skin disease, call a Doctor if you notice a
worsening of the baby heat rash
condition or any other changes in skin condition or behavior.