Heat Rash in Children: Care Instructions

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Heat rash on a baby's chest and cheek, with close-up of the rash

Overview

Heat rash (also called prickly heat rash) is a red or pink rash. It most often is found on body areas covered by clothing. The rash can form when the sweat ducts become blocked and swell. This often leads to discomfort and itching.

Heat rash is most common in babies. It can happen when a baby is dressed too warmly. But it can happen to any baby in very hot weather. Dress your baby as you would yourself for comfort.

In young children, heat rash often appears on the neck, trunk, or thighs. The rash can be irritated by clothing or scratching. In rare cases, the skin can get infected.

Most heat rashes heal on their own.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

To help relieve symptoms

  • Start by removing or loosening your baby's clothing. Move your child to a cool, shady spot.
  • Let the skin air-dry instead of using towels.
  • Avoid ointments or other lotions. They can irritate the skin.

To help prevent heat rash

  • Dress your child in as few clothes as possible during hot weather.
  • Keep your child's skin cool and dry.
  • Keep your child's sleeping area cool.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child's rash seems to be getting worse.
  • Your child has a fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child's rash doesn't go away after 3 or 4 days.
  • Your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.