You can count on a lot of things during the summer: sticky popsicle fingers, the incessant smell of bug spray and sunscreen, and heat. With that heat, unfortunately, comes heat rashes. According to the Cleveland Clinic, these rashes — which can be patches of tiny bumps or red, itchy skin — are not limited to infants, as some parents believe. People of any age can develop heat rashes... even you. Luckily, heat rashes aren't inevitable annoyances on every hot day. Turns out, there are some methods for preventing heat rash in kids.
First, what is heat rash exactly? Also called "prickly heat" or "miliaria," according to the Mayo Clinic, this skin rash develops when pores become blocked, effectively trapping sweat under the skin. There are a variety of things that can cause heat rash, from excessive exercise to overheating. Infants are especially vulnerable to heat rash because of their underdeveloped sweat ducts, which "can rupture more easily, trapping perspiration beneath the skin," the Mayo Clinic noted. Though there are a few different types and severities of heat rash, the Cleveland Clinic reported that the most common symptom is small, red bumps, often in the folds of skin on the neck, armpits, and joints. As the temperature rises, take these steps to help prevent heat rash on your children, babies, and yourself.
1. Keep Your Children Cool & Dry — Or As Cool & Dry As Possible
This is easier said than done during the dog days of summer, but hot, clammy skin is just asking for a heat rash. Keep kids in the shade when you're outdoors, and investing in a few hand-held fans is not a bad idea. If you feel hot and sticky, your baby probably feels hot and sticky — and they're more susceptible to heat rash.
2. Dress Kids In Loose-Fitting, Breezy Clothing.
Be hyper-aware of how many layers your child is wearing on hot days. According to the Cleveland Clinic, clothing that doesn't allow sweat to evaporate can cause heat rash. This includes clothing that is too tight or too thick, or dressing your child in too many layers. You probably don't love wearing skintight jeans or long-sleeves during heatwaves, so don't make your baby.
3. Avoid Thick, Goopy Creams & Ointments In Hot Weather
Anything that blocks the sweat ducts in your child's skin is liable to cause heat rash. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this includes oils, creams, and ointments, so don't lather these on before heading out into the sun. My advice? If your baby needs a certain ointment, just avoid going outside in the heat.
4. Try To Limit Sweating
Again, this one is easier said than done... but try. Excessive sweating is a common culprit for heat rash, according to the Cleveland Clinic, so don't let your children sprint around the playground for too long when it's hot outside. Insist on taking breaks in the air-conditioning, and change them out of their sweaty clothes as soon as they come inside. The less stickiness on their skin, the better.
5. Take Breaks From The Sun
It can feel like a total waste to spend a sunny day indoors, but sometimes it's the best thing to do for your babies. Do some crafts, watch a movie, play with some water toys in the bath tub — get creative. If you want to play outdoors, stick to the morning or evening hours when the temperature isn't quite so high. According to Sciencing.com, the hottest hours of the day are between 3:00 and 4:30, which sounds like a great time for an afternoon nap.
If you notice heat rash developing on your little one, don't freak out. According to WebMD, heat rash typically just goes away, as long as you're keeping your child cool and dry. Take a break from playing outside and let their skin breathe in some comfy, lightweight clothes. If the rash doesn't go away on its own, or looks like it's getting worse, give your pediatrician a call.