If your skin is revolting after spending time in heat make this your plan of attack for heat rash.

By Renee Cherry
August 01, 2019
Woman walking on the streets of Malaga, Spain, holding a water bottle
Credit: lechatnoir/Getty Images

If you're susceptible to heat rash, then you know it can spoil on an otherwise fun summer day. When it happens, taking steps to cool and soothe your skin can at least minimize your discomfort. If you're currently dealing with irritation–or want to prepare yourself for a future incident–here's what you should know about how to treat heat rash. (Related: How to Protect Your Skin from Heat Damage)

Heat rash usually happens when your sweat ducts become blocked, trapping sweat, which eventually causes a skin eruption, says Shari Sperling D.O., of Sperling Dermatology. This volcanic eruption of sorts causes tiny bumps that look like pimples. People who are experiencing heat rash usually feel an itchy or prickling sensation. It can sometimes be confused with other rashes like eczema or folliculitis, which have a similar appearance, says Dr. Sperling. (Related: What to Do When the Summer Heat Is Ruining Your Sleep)

The good news is that heat rash will usually go away on its own, so the best treatment for a heat rash is to get yourself out of the heat and into a cool room pronto.

Taking a cooling bath and cold shower can also help, says Dr. Sperling. Calamine lotion can also be your friend since it can help soothe inflammation, but using any cream that's too rich can actually backfire. "Avoid thick ointments because they can block pores and make the heat rash much worse," she explains. (Related: Sunburn Remedies to Soothe Scorched Skin)

The majority of heat rash cases are mild, but if your symptoms last more than a few days or include swelling, pus oozing from the bumps, or a fever or chills, you should see a doctor, according to the Mayo Clinic. (Related: How to Tell If You Have Sun Poisoning...and What to Do Next)

The best way to prevent heat rash from happening in the first place is pretty intuitive: Avoid spending extended periods of time in the heat. Since that's not always practical (or favorable), you can also take precautions if you know in advance that you'll be sweating profusely. If you'll be working out and are prone to heat rash, try prepping your armpits, cleavage, and inner thighs with a powder deodorant spray. If you won't be exercising, opt for light-colored, loose-fitting clothing (during workouts, loose-fitting clothes can encourage chafing). In either case, taking a cold shower immediately can also help, says Dr. Sperling.

Heat rash is a bummer, no question. But on the bright side, the best treatments include things you'd probably feel like doing anyway in order to cool down.