Prickly heat, also known as heat rash, is one of those skin problems that few of us give a seconds thought until we’re on holiday and the uncomfortable, itchy rash appears across our chest and arms. It’s a common issue that plenty of Brits suffer with after a long day at the beach or by the pool. With the summer holiday season just around the corner, we’ve outlined the key methods of treatment and prevention to ensure heat rash doesn’t put a dampener on your break.
What is prickly heat?
Prickly Heat, also known as miliaria or heat rash, is a skin condition that occurs in hot, humid weather conditions when small particles of sweat block the sweat glands causing a rash to appear on the body. The rash can develop anywhere on the body, but it most commonly occurs on the face, neck, back, chest and thighs. It is composed of tiny spots or bumps that are surrounded by an area of red inflamed and itchy skin. The trapped sweat causes localised irritation and the characteristic heat rash.
Whilst prickly heat can also occur during the winter months in those that sweat excessively, there is a theory that it is the exposure of the skin to the sun, that in some, causes a photochemical reaction which releases compounds that can cause excessive sweating resulting in the blockage of the sweat glands and the characteristic rash.
How can you prevent and treat prickly heat?
I have had positive feedback from the use of Nettle Leaf Extract by Solgar Vitamins for both the prevention and treatment of prickly heat. Nettle is commonly employed to provide relief of hay fever and other allergies because of its ability to inhibit the release of histamine which is responsible for the rash. Additionally, nettle leaf extracts are powerful diuretics helping to eliminate the compounds that are responsible for the inflammation of the sweat glands.
Topically, I would recommend the use of Lemon Balm Cream by Granary Herbs which can be applied three or four times a day. Lemon Balm when applied topically helps to soothe itchy inflamed skin as well as being a good first aid cream useful for sores and cuts. In some studies, lemon balm cream helped to heal cold sore lesions quicker than conventional creams. Thyme Out is another good option as the tonic helps to reduce inflammation and calm your skin. This clever formula is also very good at treating acne, eczema and sun burn, so it’s worth investing in for the whole family.
Since prickly heat is a photochemical reaction, I would also recommend the use of a topical sun protection product with a high UVA/UVB protection such as Ultrasun Extreme Sun Lotion SPF 50+ which not only provides high protection but is also free from oils and perfumes that may aggravate skin.