Heat rash help

Don’t let it ruin your cool


Also known as prickly heat, a heat rash appears as small red bumps on the skin that are hot and itchy. Try not to be alarmed though if it appears, as apart from the irritation it’s usually harmless. Heat rash can be common for some people during the hot spells, but you shouldn’t have to suffer in the glorious sunshine, so take a look at some advice from our experts on how to help beat that prickly heat. 

Why do I get heat rash?

Some people can get it quite regularly; some people never get it – but why? Boots pharmacist, Angela Chalmers, says, ‘Heat rash can happen when you sweat more than usual – as a lot of us do in the summer. Sweat glands become blocked and skin cells and bacteria trap sweat below the surface of the skin, leading to those little bumps.’ So depending how much you sweat in the heat, can affect how likely you are to get it.

How can I avoid getting heat rash?

Like a lot of things, some of us are just unlucky in how our bodies react to the heat. First thing to do though is try to minimise sweating. Angela says, ‘Seeking shade, avoiding strenuous activity, using a hand fan, taking a cool shower or going into an air-conditioned room can help.’ You could also consider taking a suitable antihistamine as this may help reduce the itch associated with the rash. 

How long will it take to clear up?

Heat rash should generally disappear after a few days, but if you find it’s very itchy and becoming a problem, talk to your local Boots pharmacist, as they’ll be able to advise on any products to help.

Is there anything else I can do to help it?

Independent dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto says, ‘An antibacterial shower gel can help reduce the number of bacteria on your skin, as they can block the sweat glands and cause a flare-up. Avoid oil-based products, which can also clog glands. Use an antiperspirant spray containing aluminium salts to reduce sweating and wear lightweight, natural fibres, such as cotton, since they don’t trap heat like synthetic fibres. Water sprays are handy when you’re out, as they can fit in a handbag.’ 

If the itching is persisting you can try applying a cold, damp cloth on the area for no longer than 20 minutes, rather than scratching it tap or pat the rash instead and try not to use perfumed shower gels or cream. 

Will sunscreen make my heat rash worse?

Clare O’Connor, Boots sun care expert, says, ‘You might worry that sunscreen will aggravate a heat rash, but there are lots of formulas developed for sensitive skin – sprays, mists and light lotions can be less irritating. Whatever you do, don’t skip it! It’s a myth that high SPFs are heavier and greasier, so whichever product you choose, you don’t need to compromise on protection.’ To find out more information on sunscreen, check out our tips for staying in the sun.

If after all this, you feel like your heat rash is still putting a damper on your summer, speak to a Boots pharmacist who will be able to help.