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Heat Rash

What Is a Heat Rash?

Heat rash causes a stinging sensation and itchy, reddened skin, which may develop small red bumps. It is also called miliaria or prickly heat due to its tingling pain.

Heat rash usually occurs when the weather is hot and humid causing you to sweat a lot. It is common in infants and young children, but adults can get it, too.

Causes of heat rash include blocked sweat glands that trap sweat under your skin. When sweat pores can’t clear your skin, a rash develops. Other causes include being overdressed or becoming overheated in a hot environment.

Babies can develop this condition if tightly wrapped in blankets or clothing. If you aren’t used to very hot weather, you may develop heat rash.


Symptoms of heat rash may include tiny dots or bumps that can look like groups of small blisters. Heat rash usually appears in skin folds in these areas:

  • Neck
  • Breasts
  • Groin
  • Elbows
  • Armpits

Serious Symptoms Requiring Emergency Medical Attention

  • Severe itching, swelling or pus
  • Dizziness, nausea or confusion
  • Difficulty breathing

Treatment Options

Heat rash sometimes goes away without treatment, but see your doctor if symptoms continue for a few days or get worse.

These steps can help:

  • Move to a cooler place – Leave hot or humid areas and go to a cool or air-conditioned location.
  • Keep skin cool and dry – A fan can quickly reduce sweating while cooling and drying skin.
  • Apply a cool compress or ice pack – This can lower skin temperature.
  • Wear cooler clothing that limits friction – Remove tight-fitting clothing and put on light cotton or loosely fitting clothes that don’t rub or irritate skin.
  • Don’t use powders, ointments or creams – These can block pores and make the condition worse.
  • Keep sleeping areas cool – Use air conditioning or fans to circulate air.

Get emergency help if your symptoms include severe itching, swelling or pus, dizziness, nausea, confusion or trouble breathing.

In some cases, an infection causes heat rash. If so, your doctor may prescribe medication.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of heat rash, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat a heat rash.