If you work outside or have spent any amount of time in direct sunlight, there is a good chance you have experienced miliaria crystallina (heat rash).
However, you may not have immediately recognized the symptoms as synonymous with the condition. What is heat rash, exactly? Well, it is a painful skin irritation that occurs due to exposure to intense heat.
Blisters or red lumps commonly characterize this condition. Additionally, heat rash may trigger itchiness and, in some cases, a prickly sensation. In this article, we take a closer look at this skin condition. We’ll also outline a few heat rash home remedies you can practice to soothe your skin.
The Biology of a Heat Rash
Before providing remedies that can be used to treat heat rash, let’s take a moment to consider what causes it in the first place. Although exposure to intense heat, namely direct sunlight, contributes to the onset of this skin problem, it involves much more. Heat-related skin rash can occur on any part of the body. It most commonly appears on the neck, under the arms, and around the groin. The condition is a byproduct of sweat pores that have become obstructed by excessive sweat. It’s worth noting that infants and seniors are the most susceptible when it comes to this skin condition.
Home Remedies That Work
When it comes to heat rash, the condition will often resolve itself, provided the skin remains dry and cool. However, that is not always feasible, especially if you spend much time outdoors. Fortunately, you can find many at-home treatments to resolve irritated skin caused by miliaria crystallina. Your symptoms will dictate which treatment options will work best for you. For example, some target inflammation, infection, and itching, whereas others work to soothe and cool the skin.
Cool baths and showers to ease your heat rash in minutes
Because miliaria crystallina stems from heat exposure, the symptoms have a chance to subside once the skin has had a chance to cool down. Therefore, a cool bath, compress, or shower can help resolve many of the symptoms associated with heat-related skin irritation. In fact, washing your skin allows you to unclog the pores that caused the skin condition in the first place. For best results, avoid scrubbing the skin too vigorously while bathing or showering; this may result in further irritation. After bathing, make sure to thoroughly dry off since moisture can result in skin irritation as well.
Stay cool to help reduce the symptoms
Staying cool can speed healing for those struggling with miliaria crystallina; this would be a great time to stay indoors if the option is available to you, provided you have good ventilation and air conditioning. Keeping your skin dry and cool should be paramount if your goal is to move past the pain and irritation commonly associated with this heat-related skin condition. Along with good ventilation and air conditioning, cold compresses, ice wrapped in cloth, and cool face towels can all relieve inflamed, irritated skin.
Regarding heat rash home remedies, oatmeal is one that you don’t want to overlook. It effectively treats several skin conditions. You can use it to create an oatmeal bath or as a paste applied to the patches of skin affected by miliaria crystallina. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:
- Oatmeal bath: Add one or two cups of oatmeal, preferably colloidal oatmeal, to warm bath water and soak for fifteen to twenty minutes.
- Oatmeal Paste: For the best consistency, use a 1-to-1 ratio of colloidal oatmeal and water; mix the combination until you’ve created a paste and then apply it to the patches of skin affected by miliaria crystallina.
Apply baking soda topically
Baking soda has been proven to relieve miliaria crystallina symptoms. Best of all, it’s probably already in your kitchen, saving you the trouble of having to venture off to your local store pick some up while you’re in agony. Similar to oatmeal, you will want to add three to five tablespoons of baking soda to your bath water. Then soak in it for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Aloe Vera is an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic useful in cooling, hydrating, and preventing the skin from becoming infected. It can be taken directly from the aloe vera plant or purchased as a gel from most big-box stores or pharmacies.
Although not very common, Neem is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory used on several skin irritations, including miliaria crystallina. It is a powder that can be made into a paste or added to bath water. As a paste, you can apply it to the skin for a few minutes at a time before washing it off. If adding it to bath water, allow it to soak into the skin for fifteen or twenty minutes to relieve symptoms.
Editor’s Note 8/18/2023: Ancient healers have used neem oil for generations, with much anecdotal evidence to back it up. However, it lacks clinical studies or trials to confirm its efficacy for reducing heat rash. It might be worth a try for your heat rash, but better-known and proven remedies might be your better option.
Another great product you can add to bath water is Epsom salt. It relieves a variety of skin problems, including miliaria crystallina. For best results, add a cup or two of Epsom salt to lukewarm bath water and soak for as long as twenty minutes.
Not surprisingly, hydrocortisone cream is one of the best heat rash home remedies you can buy; it is available at most big-box stores and pharmacies. If used once or twice a day, it relieves the redness, itchiness, and blistering commonly associated with miliaria crystallina. In fact, in most cases, hydrocortisone cream can resolve this skin condition in a matter of days.
The same calamine lotion that many of us remember from our childhood is also great for treating miliaria crystalline. With zinc oxide being one of its main ingredients, it can help relieve itching, which is widely reported as being the worst symptom of miliaria crystallina. In fact, itching and scratching can exacerbate the condition to the point where medical intervention may become necessary. For best results, use a cotton pad to apply calamine lotion to the affected areas of your skin, allowing it to penetrate the skin for several minutes before washing it off.
Antihistamines (under a doctor’s advice – might ease heat rash)
Antihistamines treat a variety of allergic reactions like sneezing and watery eyes. It can also aid in relieving the itchiness that comes with miliaria crystallina. Many of the most popular over-the-counter antihistamines are available in topical and oral variations.
Doctors often recommend oral antihistamines as an “add-on” treatment to topical relief – check with your primary care physician before trying it.
If you’re unfamiliar with sandalwood, it is an anti-inflammatory with analgesic properties that make it an ideal choice when treating inflamed skin. As a powder, you can add sandalwood to water and apply it to the affected areas of the skin. This should help resolve redness, itching, and other painful symptoms of heat rash. For best results, mix the powder with water. This will yield a paste-like texture you can apply to the skin until your symptoms have subsided.
Studies confirm that sandalwood provides significant anti-inflammatory relief in several skin conditions. While the studies did not directly examine its impact on heat rash, it might be worth trying.
Final Thoughts on Dealing With the Discomfort of Heat Rash
In reading this article, you may have noticed that there are many heat rash home remedies to choose from. In saying that, all treatments will not work for everyone. So, try different ones until you find something that works best for you. Of course, if you’re still unable to find relief, you may need to schedule an appointment with a physician or dermatologist. They may prescribe alternative treatments.
When should you see a doctor? If your miliaria crystallina is complicated by flu-like symptoms like a sore throat, fever, and muscle aches, it could suggest a more serious problem, making medical intervention necessary. However, this is rare. Most cases involving heat-related skin rash can be resolved with at-home treatments.
In short, the best way to avoid developing a heat-related skin rash is to avoid excessive heat, avoid direct sunlight, and wear light, protective clothing. Nonetheless, if you struggle with this unpleasant condition, please try some of the treatments recommended in this article.