Prickly heat / prickles – causes & symptoms

Prickly heat rash is one of the most common skin problems faced by people of all the ages. While this heat rash is more common during summer, it might also appear during winter, in some people.

Prickly heat rashes are not usually considered serious medically, unless the extent of the rash is extensive and is inviting secondary infection.

However, even if your prickly heat rashes are not of the serious kind, they are always enough to cause severe irritation and pricking sensation on the skin that can make you feel seriously uncomfortable.

Prickly heat rashes occur more in people who sweat a lot and hence during summer, when the weather is naturally hot and humid, ideal for profuse sweating, the problem of prickly heat rashes becomes extensive.

If a person sweats a lot even during winter, he or she might develop these rashes even if the weather is cold.

Wearing excessive thick woolen clothes that do not provide air passage might be a reason for sweating even during winter, leading to the appearance of prickly heat rashes.

The good thing about these rashes is that, if you take the right precaution you can prevent these rashes completely.

There are also effective home treatments that can give you relief from this uncomfortable skin condition. However, before we get to the treatments, let us take a look at the causes and symptoms of prickly heat rashes.

Cause of prickly heat rashes

The skin has several sweat glands through which sweat comes out to the outer surface of the skin in order to keep the body temperature low when the atmosphere is hot.

Naturally, sweating is more common during summer as the weather in this season is hot and often humid.

However, prickly heat rashes are not caused directly because of sweating but it is caused when the sweat glands are blocked and hence the sweat produced by the body gets trapped within the gland and is not able to come out to the surface of the skin, from where it can be evaporated or wiped off.

When there is no reason to sweat more than usual you might not develop prickly heat rashes even if you have blocked sweat glands on the skin, but when your body is sweating profusely, blocked sweat glands give rise to the characteristic rashes known as prickly heat.

At the same time, even if you sweat profusely, you can stay safe from getting prickly heat rashes if you can ensure that the sweat glands on your skin are not blocked with dead cells, debris, cosmetics or sebum.

Having explained the cause of prickly heat rashes, now we will move to the symptoms.

Symptoms of prickly heat rashes

Prickly heat rashes are not usually accompanied with fever or any other medical symptoms unless there is severe secondary infection on the rashes. The common symptoms of these heat rashes include,

Small or large red bumps on the skin that might appear close to each other on a particular area of the body.

Prickly heat rashes can also look like red small blisters in cluster.

Severe itching, pricking and burning sensation are characteristic symptoms of prickly itch rashes.

One can easily distinguish prickly heat rashes from other type of skin problems through its patchy and red appearance on the skin along with the characteristic pricking sensation.

These rashes mostly appear in the area of the body that are prone to more sweating, like the back, neck, chest, under the belly, under the bust etc.

Prickly heat rashes do not go on their own once they appear unless the temperature and sweating has come down due to a change in the weather or the rashes has been specifically treated.

These rashes do not leave any permanent mark on the skin once they are dissipated but if there is injury to the skin due to itching or secondary infection it might cause permanent scarring of the skin.

How to avoid prickly heat

Prickly heat rashes can be treated easily unless they have already caused secondary infection.

If you are prone to getting prickly itch rashes in a particular season, you can also take precautions even before the season starts to make sure that the rashes do not appear.

There are a number of medications and topical lotions and powders that you might use in order to get rid of prickly heat rashes. At the same time there are also a number of home treatments that can be helpful to control prickly itch.

However, irrespective of the treatment you will choose to follow, implementing some changes in your dress code and eating habits can be a lot helpful to treat prickly itch rashes quickly and effectively.

So, before we go to the treatments, let us spend a few more words on the changes you need to implement in your dressing pattern and eating habits to get rid of prickles quickly.

Light cotton clothes can be your savior

To get rid of prickly heat rashes, change your dress code to light, cotton clothes, preferably with a loose fit. These clothes will let air pass, letting the sweat evaporate naturally instead of blocking it.

Cotton and linen also absorb sweat keeping your skin dry. It is best to stay away from tight undergarments that might restrict evaporation of sweat from the skin, leading to the blockage of the sweat glands.

If you sweat profusely, which is common amongst people suffering from prickly itch rashes, make sure that you change your clothes as soon as they have become damp with sweat.

Frequent bathing can keep you cool

Taking frequent bath can also be helpful to get rid of prickles quickly as frequent bathing not only reduces body temperature and declines sweating but also helps in removing any stuck up sweat as well as debris from the sweat glands, helping in removing the cause of prickles.

AC is your true friend

Well, if you are suffering from prickly heat rashes, one of the easiest treatments will be to stay in an air conditioned environment throughout the day. It will keep your body temperature low and will stop sweating, which will naturally reduce the problem of prickly itch.

Change your food habit

Another important change in your lifestyle that can be most effective to treat prickly heat rashes quickly is to change your food habit during hot and humid summer days.

What you eat has a direct impact on your body heat and body heat certainly controls sweating. So, including foods that help in keeping the body cool and excluding the ones that can generate more body heat can be a wise choice.

Include more vegetables and leaves in your diet. Bottle gourd, ridge gourd are great to keep the body cool from inside.

Also devour on juicy fruits like watermelon, cucumber, pineapple and others. Cold milk and dairy products like sour curd, yogurt and there different preparations are also helpful to control body temperature.

Reduce the amount of oil and fried foods in your diet. Control the intake of meat and high protein foods that are related to more body heat generation. Also drink lots of water and juices throughout the day to stay cool from inside.

Treatments for prickly itch rash or prickles

Before we move to the home treatments for prickly itch, first let us mention two most commonly used and safe medicated treatments for this problem.

There are also over the counter medicines but if you are using the treatment without the prescription of a doctor, it is best to stick to home treatments or either of these medicated treatments.

However, if you are pregnant or you are taking medicines for any other condition, always make sure to ask your doctor before using any lotion or powder that you buy from a medical store.

Calamine lotion for prickly heat treatment

One of the best treatments without side effects is to apply calamine lotion on the prickly heat rashes.

Calamine helps in soothing the skin. It reduces the skin irritation, inflammation as well as skin redness. The cooling effect offered by calamine lotion also reduces sweating in the area, helping in controlling the rashes quickly.

Candid powder for prickly itch

Candid powder is the other common topical treatment that doctors suggest to get rid of skin problems like prickly itch quickly.

This powder helps in controlling the redness and itchy sensation on the skin and also prevents secondary infection.

Home treatments for quick relief from prickles

There are a bunch of side effect free home treatments that can be most helpful to control and get rid of prickly heat rashes. Here are some of the best from the lot,

Aloe Vera gel for treating prickles

The cooling and calming sensation of Aloe Vera on the skin helps in controlling the redness, itchy sensation as well as inflammation on the skin.

It also controls excess sweating and helps in curing the heat rashes. Just apply pure Aloe Vera gel to the affected area in excess and live on. You can repeat it as many times as you wish.

Oatmeal for prickly heat treatment

Oatmeal is the other ingredient that you can use effectively to get rid of these rashes. Oatmeal has a soothing and calming effect on the skin and in addition to that it absorbs excess oil from the glands and also removes any debris on the skin through mild exfoliation.

Applying a pack of oatmeal and cold milk onto the affected area of the skin, leaving it on for 20 minutes before washing off with water can be most helpful. Repeat twice a day, if needed.

Cucumber and fuller’s earth to treat prickly heat

Cucumber has skin cooling ability and fuller’s earth apart from reducing skin inflammation and redness also helps in keeping sweat in control.

Soak sufficient fuller’s earth in cold water for 10 minutes and once it becomes soft, add 3-4 spoons of cucumber juice to it.

Apply the resulting pack onto the prickly heat rash affected area of the skin and let it get 90% dry before washing off with plain water.

Potato for prickly heat

Potato can also be used for treating prickly heat rashes on the skin effectively. Just grate a potato, and apply it directly onto the affected area of the skin. Let it dry and become brown before you remove with excess water. Repeat twice a day.