Prickly heat, also known as miliaria rubra, is an itchy rash of small, raised red spots that cause a stinging or prickling sensation on the skin. Prickly heat can develop anywhere on the body, but it usually appears on your face, neck, back, chest or thighs a few days after exposure to hot temperatures.
Babies suffer from prickly heat on their buttocks and children suffer from this especially in hot and humid weather. It occurs because their sweat glands are not fully developed, and also the fact that they are constantly in nappies and diapers.
Heat rash begins with excessive perspiration, usually in a hot, humid environment. The perspiration makes it easier for dead skin cells and bacteria on the skin to block the sweat glands, forming a barrier and trapping sweat beneath the skin, where it builds up, causing the characteristic bumps. As the bumps burst and sweat is released, there may be a prickly or stinging sensation that gives this condition its name.
How to Prevent Prickly Heat
So what are the natural alternatives that you can use to reduce this painful summer skin problem? Here are some pointers –
1. Air Yourself
Firstly, the golden rule is to keep the body cool and well aired. If you can, uncover the skin where you are experiencing prickly heat and expose it to cool air. Doing so will help bring relief to the skin. For babies, avoid making them wear diapers and air the affected areas.
2. Say No to Synthetic
Summer is the time when you should wear light coloured and loose clothes so that there is air circulation and your body stays cool. Wear cotton clothing and avoid synthetic tight clothes at all cost.
3. Drink Up Those Summer Coolers
Because the hot temperature can drain energy out of you, it is important to consistently hydrate yourself to stay cool. Drink cool natural drinks like chaach, lemon water andcoconut water, and avoid alcohol and aerated drinks. You can also add flavoured water to your diet, where you can make the most of seasonal fruits and herbs.
4. Eat Healthy Foods
Beat the heat and stay cool by eating healthy. Include lots of fresh raw foods like saladsand fruits and avoid heavy greasy dishes, fried foods and sweets.
5. Keep Your Skin Dry
Never leave the skin damp during this hot season. In fact after bathing, always pat yourself dry with a towel to avoid bacteria from building up. Powder yourself and ensure that your skin stays cool.
Home Remedies for Prickly Heat
Here are four natural home remedies to help you prevent prickly heat –
Yoghurt has been known to have both, a cooling and soothing effect on the skin. Apply cold yoghurt to the affected areas and leave it on for 15minutes. Wash with cold water and pat dry. Never rub the irritated skin.
2. Rose Water
Make a concoction using the following ingredient: 200ml rose water, 4 Tbsp honey and 200ml pure water. Mix together and freeze in an ice tray. Take these ice cubes, four to five at a time, and wrap them in a soft muslin cloth. Press the bundle gently on the prickly heat affected areas.
This is a time teste remedy for prickly heat and I would recommend that you mix it with full fat, cold milk, and apply it as a pack on the skin and let it dry. Wash off with cold water.
4. Fuller’s Earth
Also known as multani mitti, it has cooling effects on the skin. I have tried this recipe on my young teenager when she returns from school and it is not only very effective but helps soothe and cool her skin instantly.
Take 2 tsp mint paste, 3 Tbsp fuller’s earth and enough cold milk to make a smooth paste. Apply this on the skin and let it dry. It is preferable that you sit under a fan whenever you are doing these treatments and always pat dry the skin with a very soft towel.