When the hot summer sun is beating down, we generally worry about slathering on sunscreen to avoid getting burned. But sunburn isn't the only skin ailment people have to be concerned about during the summer. Heat rash is another skin irritation that can bring discomfort and should be treated properly -- so let's take a look at a few key things to know about heat rash.
Causes and Symptoms
When it's hot out, people's pores, or sweat ducts, may trap perspiration under the skin. When this happens, a rash may form. A heat rash will usually form when it's hot and humid outside but can be seen during cooler weather as well if someone is overdressing or simply in a warm environment. Heat rash generally shows the same symptoms as other rashes, often consisting of a cluster of small blisters or bumps. This type of rash commonly forms where skin touches skin or where clothing causes friction with the skin -- the neck, shoulders, elbow creases, armpits, and groin are the most common areas for heat rash to form. The bumps from a heat rash can be itchy or painful, depending on the severity of the rash.
When to See a Doctor
Fortunately, heat rash can usually heal on its own. If you experience a heat rash, try to remain in cool environments, use cool compresses on the affected area, keep the irritated skin dry, and wear loose, light, cotton clothing. After a few days, the rash should begin to clear up on its own. But there are a few cases where you should seek the medical care of doctors for a heat rash. First, make sure you seek medical care if the rash doesn't clear up on its own and continues to become worse. And second, if the affected area has pus or liquids draining from the bumps or if the lymph nodes become swollen in the groin, neck, or armpit, visit an urgent care clinic. With the Urgent Care Association of America showing that about three million people visiting urgent care centers each week, these centers are equipped to treat a variety of conditions, including heat rash.
While heat rash can be annoying and inconvenient, it usually isn't serious. By staying cool and dry, you should be able to treat the rash at home. But always visit an urgent care center if you have a rash that isn't going away or is getting worse.