We are all, I’m sure, familiar with that common hot weather complaint, the heat rash - often referred to as prickly heat. Anyone can develop it, but children are significantly more vulnerable to it, and understandably the itchiness and irritation it can cause can can be incredibly uncomfortable for them.
However, it is not just the heat that can cause this so-called rash - just wearing tight or synthetic clothes is enough to set it off. The reason for this is the relation between the rash and over-sweating. Sweat needs an exit to escape out of glands, but if these become restricted, the skin round them can become aggravated and small red bumps develop as a result.
Sweat can get trapped and not manage to escape due to the build up of dead skin , or bacteria created by too much pressure on the skin. This can happen after for example sitting or lying for long periods without getting up. There can be just a few scattered bumps as a result, or hundreds.
The reason children can be more vulnerable to heat rashes is possibly due to underdeveloped sweat glands that can more easily suffer blockages. Although it can be very uncomfortable for the little ones, it is not dangerous. However, problems can arise when the rash is mistaken for a viral rash - which could be indicative of something significantly more serious like meningitis.
However there is a way to tell the difference between a heat rash and a viral rash. Generally viral rashes are quite flat whereas heat rashes are always lumpy. In addition, heat rashes do not come with accompanying symptoms, whereas a virus obviously will. Also, a heat rash will not last long once a child has been cooled down, whereas a viral rash could stay around for days.
In essence, there is no cause for concern with a heat rash - a bit of cold water sponging and some chamomile lotion will soothe the itch. Whatever you do, give the thick gunky creams a miss - well all but the sun cream that is!