Your baby usually has smooth, pretty skin, but this evening when you bathed her you noticed tiny, pink bumps on her neck, upper back and chest. She doesn’t seem sick at all. What could this be? Rashes are sometimes hard to figure out, but if she isn’t showing symptoms of illness there is a possibility this could be heat rash, sometimes called “prickly heat” or Miliaria.

Heat rash is common in hot, humid weather and is caused by blocked off, overworked sweat glands. Infants can also get heat rash in the winter with fever, overdressing or if ointments are applied to the chest to treat colds because they can block off sweat glands. Older kids can get heat rash with exercising.

Heat rash can sometimes be itchy. Older children may report a “prickly” pins and needles sensation. However, fever or symptoms of illness are not associated with heat rash. With treatment, heat rash usually clears completely in 2 to 3 days.

How is heat rash treated? Here are some things you can do for prevention and treatment:

  • Cool off the skin by giving cool (not cold) baths, without soap, every two to three hours
  • Let the skin air dry
  • For localized areas you can apply a cool, wet washcloth to the area for five to 10 minutes
  • Run a fan in the bedroom while your child sleeps
  • Kids over one year of age can lie on a cotton towel to absorb perspiration
  • Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream - an over the counter medication - three times a day to itchy spots
  • Be sure to use hydrocortisone cream, not ointment, as the ointment can block sweat glands
  • Calamine lotion is another option

If your child’s rash doesn’t look or sound like this, if it persists more than three days, if it begins to look infected or if you have concerns, be sure to call your child’s pediatrician.


Expert Advice