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  • Heat Rash


    • A fine pink rash caused by overheating
    • Mainly on the neck, chest, and upper back


    • Tiny, pink bumps
    • Mainly on the neck, chest and upper back
    • Occurs during hot, humid weather or after lots of sun
    • Heat rash can be itchy
    • Older children may have a “prickly” pins and needles feeling
    • In babies, the rash can have some tiny water blisters
    • No fever or illness
    • Also called “prickly heat”


    • Heat rash is caused by blocked-off sweat glands. Hot, humid weather can cause the sweat glands to be overworked.
    • Babies can also get it in the wintertime from ointments put on the skin. Reason: Ointments can block off sweat glands.
    • Ointments and Location. Heat rash of the forehead can be caused by oil or ointment on the hair. Heat rash of the face of a breastfed baby can be caused by lanolin put on the nipples. Heat rash of the chest can be caused by menthol ointments put on for coughs.
    • Older children can get heat rash with hard exercise.

    When to Call Us for Heat Rash

    Call Us Now (night or day) If:

    • Your child looks or acts very sick
    • Fever and looks infected (spreading redness, pus)
    • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

    Call Us Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If:

    • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
    • Looks infected (spreading redness, pus), but no fever

    Call Us During Weekday Office Hours If:

    • You have other questions or concerns
    • Rash is not gone after 3 days of treatment

    Parent Care at Home If:

    • Heat rash

    Care Advice for Heat Rash

    What You Should Know:

    • Heat rash is caused by blocked-off sweat glands.
    • It’s common in hot, humid weather.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.


    • Cool off the skin to treat and prevent heat rash.
    • For large rashes, give your child a cool bath without soap. Do this for 10 minutes. (Caution: Avoid any chill.) Let the skin air-dry. Do this 3 or more times a day.
    • For small rashes, put a cool, wet washcloth on the area. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes. Then let the skin air-dry.
    • Dress in as few layers of clothing as you can.
    • Lower the temperature in your home if you can.


    • When your child is asleep, run a fan in the bedroom.
    • During sleep, have your child lie on a cotton towel to absorb sweat. (Note: Only for older children age over 1 year.)

    Steroid Cream:

    • Use 1% hydrocortisone cream. No prescription is needed.
    • Put it on itchy spots 3 times per day.
    • Avoid hydrocortisone ointment.
    • Calamine lotion can also work.

    Do Not Use Ointments:

    • Avoid all ointments or oils on the skin. Reason: They can block off sweat glands.
    • Be sure the rash isn’t caused by a menthol ointment being used for a cough.

    What to Expect:

    • With treatment, heat rash will clear up in 2 to 3 days.

    Call Your Doctor If:

    • Rash lasts more than 3 days on this treatment
    • Rash starts to look infected
    • Your child becomes worse

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

    Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
    Copyright 1994-2013 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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