Heat rash can be quite itchy and uncomfortable for you baby. As a parent, seeing any rash can be worrisome. Understanding the common skin issues babies face can help you keep your little one comfortable.
Heat rash in babies can be uncomfortable, but fortunately it’s not dangerous. Older children and adults can also get heat rash. However, infants are more susceptible due to their immature sweat glands.
Heat Rash on a Baby
To help you quickly find what you want to read the most, here’s a list of what you need to know about heat rash and your baby:
- What causes heat rash in babies?
- What causes heat rash on baby’s face?
- Baby heat rash symptoms
- Baby eczema vs heat rash
- Baby heat rash pictures
- Baby heat rash treatment
- How to prevent heat rash on baby
- When to seek medical advice
While heat rash is uncomfortable and itchy, it fortunately rarely requires medical attention. It typically resolves on its own, and occasionally with a bit of help from you.
What causes heat rash in babies?
Many parents wonder what causes heat rash. This uncomfortable rash is also known as prickly heat or miliaria. Heat rash in babies occurs when they’re too hot and excessively sweating. When the excess sweat clogs sweat glands, it traps perspiration beneath the skin.
The trapped perspiration results in the noticeable red bumps or blisters. This is typically most common during summer, when there are periods of hot humid weather. It can also occur with too much indoor heat, and when clothing is too tight or too warm.
While it’s common for parents to want to bundle up babies to keep them warm, it’s important not to over bundle babies. Too much clothing leading to overheating can lead to heat rash on a baby.
What causes heat rash on baby’s face?
Heat rash can occur on any part of baby’s body. It’s especially common in crevices due to the increased risk of trapped perspiration, but hot humid weather can easily trigger heat rash on baby’s face.
Any amount of heat which leads to sweating can increase the risk of heat rash on baby’s face. Too much direct sunlight, warm hats, and covering baby’s face (common in strollers and carseats) can lead to heat rash on baby’s face.
If you’re using sunscreen, it’s possible to apply too thick of an application, or other products on baby’s face might lead to more clogging. Before using a sunscreen, be sure to speak with your baby’s doctor if they’re old enough to use it. Some healthcare providers recommend waiting until 4-6 months before applying it. Try Eco Logical Baby Sunscreen for something gentle, safe for babies (as well as the environment), as well as effective.
A summer hat which provides a bit of shade without overheating baby can help reduce the risk of heat rash. Making sure baby is dressed appropriately and wearing breathable loose fitting clothing so they can remain cool enough can protect against heat rash on baby’s face.
While most of baby’s skin, sweat glands, etc. are still sensitive and immature, a baby’s face is often the most sensitive area. Paying close attention to baby’s overall temperature can help reduce heat rash on baby’s face. Keeping baby’s skin cool is important.
Baby heat rash symptoms
It can be difficult to decipher between the potential skin care issues and rashes infants may have. From newborn skin peeling to eczema and possible allergies, it’s common for parents to wonder what each rash actually is.
Heat rash is often found on baby’s face, neck, skin folds, upper chest, and diaper area. It’s also often called prickly heat because of how it can feel. While your baby is unable to explain their feelings, the sensation is itchy, tingly and “prickly” which is why it’s referred to by a few names.
Your baby cannot explain these symptoms, but they may show you their discomfort through fussing, rubbing, scratching if old enough, and having difficulty sleeping, combined with a rash, it could be heat rash.
Baby eczema vs heat rash on baby
Both are itchy. Both can be irritated by heat. Both can vary a little bit baby to baby. So, how can you tell the difference between eczema and heat rash in babies?
Eczema tends to not just be bumps or blistered, but often also flaky, inflamed, and dry. However, sometimes eczema is bumpy and looks like heat rash in babies. Eczema can occur anywhere but is more likely to be found only in skin folds rather than a larger surface area like heat rash.
Eczema is, “A term for chronic skin conditions that cause redness, bumpiness, dry skin patches and itchiness as the result of inflammation. This inflammation is often due to allergies and sensitivities.” You can learn more by reading Baby Eczema – 6 Tips For Healing Breakouts.
In infants who have eczema, you can sometimes see both eczema and heat rash at the same time. Fortunately, both are often minor to moderate, though uncomfortable, skin conditions. If you are unable to tell the difference between baby’s heat rash and possible eczema, it’s important to reach out to your baby’s doctor.
Baby heat rash pictures
It can vary a bit child to child. Generally, heat rash in babies is a lot of small red bumps. They can be on the face, abdomen, in skin folds and the diaper area.
Depending on the clothing worn, you may see a correlation with more bumps where the clothing might be more restrictive. Waist bands, armpit areas, diaper line, etc., as it’s easier for their immature sweat glands to become clogged while compressed.
This is just one example of how heat rash can look:
With heat rash in babies who are younger, the bumps may be tinier, redder or more spread out. How it looks can also depend on how long baby was subjected to the heat which caused sweating. In infants with eczema or other skin conditions heat rash can also look different as more than one skin condition can be present at the same time.
Baby heat rash treatment
Generally, small patches of heat rash don’t need much attention and will clear on its own. If it’s wide spread and uncomfortable, treatment is usually for comfort and future prevention.
Some treatments and home remedies for heat rash in babies include:
- Avoid powders, lotions, and oils as they can further clog pores and sweat glands
- If baby has eczema and heat rash, ask their doctor the best way to treat both
- Rinse with water and if necessary, only use a very mild soap
- Be sure to dry the skin well to avoid further irritation
- You can use a fan to help keep baby’s skin cool and soothed as it heals, though be sure to keep baby’s overall body temperature comfortable – not too hot and not too cold
- Allow baby’s skin to breath and be uncovered. If at home, allow them to have no clothes, and even a bit of time diaper free. While there’s a risk of mess, if the heat rash is in the diaper area, a bit of airing out may help heal and sooth irritation.
- Loose fitting clothing is better than tighter, restrictive clothing.
How can I prevent heat rash on my baby?
To help prevent heat rash on your baby, you can:
- Avoid any heavy clothing especially if baby will be in a carseat or worn in a baby carrier
- Limit outdoor time during very hot weather. If you will be outside in the heat, consider a fan and make sure baby has plenty of shade. Watch and ensure baby does not become overheated
- If it’s very warm, utilize indoor air conditioners and fans
- During very warm weather, it’s important to keep the room baby is sleeping in cool and well ventilated to reduce the risk of heat rash as well as SIDS.
When to seek medical advice about heat rash
The short answer, if you are concerned about your baby’s health, it is important to touch base with their medical provider. Always reach out to a qualified medical professional if you are unsure about your baby’s health.
As a general rule of thumb, many will reach out to their provider if baby has a rash, confirmed heat rash or not, and is inconsolable and struggling to manage symptoms. It’s also important to reach out if baby has heat rash and any lethargy as they could easily dehydrate if they had been sweating in hot weather.
You’ll also want to keep an eye out for any pustules, inflamed skin, or swelling as it could be a sign of a yeast or bacterial infection. If your little one is old enough to scratch, it isn’t uncommon for a secondary infection to occur as they scratch open their skin.
If you notice any signs of infection, you might find a bath provides a bit of relief from itching and irritation while you arrange for them to be seen and treated by their doctor.
Can heat rash on my baby be dangerous?
Heat rash in babies, heat rash on baby’s face, legs and abdomen can be very common, especially during the summer months. While it can be extremely uncomfortable, it’s fortunately not likely to be dangerous.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure does ring true when it comes to heat rash. It may not be possible to avoid every rash, but if your baby is prone to heat rash you’ll want to do your best to prevent a future rash.
It can be very challenging to see our little ones be uncomfortable. The good news is that babies are always growing and maturing. This means heat rash in babies tends to be outgrown even if they were quite prone to it as a young infant. As you’ve read, it’s unlikely your baby’s heat rash will require medical attention, but if at any time you are concerned, do reach out to your baby’s doctor.