Heat Rash (Child)

Heat rash is a skin irritation that happens when sweat gets trapped in the skin. It’s also known as prickly heat. The rash shows up as little red bumps and sometimes tiny blisters on the skin. The rash may itch. It's common in young children.

Normally, sweat glands help the body stay cool by releasing the salty fluid called sweat. But sweat glands don’t become fully active until puberty. Because of this, sweat can get trapped in the skin more easily in young children.

In babies, heat rash is mainly found on the head, neck, shoulders, chest, and back. It can also occur in the armpits and groin. Older children tend to get heat rash on their neck, upper chest, groin, and under wrist folds.

Heat rash happens most often in hot and humid weather or when a child is dressed too warmly. Heat rash usually goes away on its own and doesn’t need medical care. The best way to relieve symptoms is to cool the skin.

Home care

Try these tips when caring for your child at home:

  • Bathe your child in lukewarm water and use mild soap. After bathing, let the skin air dry. You can also place a washcloth dipped in cool water on the rash area. 

  • Don’t use ointments on your child’s skin. These don’t improve or prevent heat rash. Ointment tends to keep the skin warmer and block the pores. Talcum powder is harmful to the lungs.

  • Try to prevent your child from scratching the rash. Scratching can delay healing. It may also cause an infection.

  • Keep your child cool and dry during warm weather. Use air conditioning or a fan. Dress your child in lightweight, soft cotton clothing.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Chills or fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Changes in the rash color to dark purple

  • Spreading of the rash

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit, neck, or groin

  • New symptoms such as redness, swelling, or pain

  • Foul-smelling fluid coming from the rash

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