Babies and Heat Rash

This is how to help your little one when she's clearly overheated.

baby in the sun iStockphoto

Babies are so tiny and fragile when they're first born and our instinct to protect them is immediate. One of the first things we do is bundle and swaddle, which is just long as it's what your baby needs. Parents advisor Lawrence F. Eichenfield, M.D., professor of pediatrics and dermatology at University of California, San Diego, and chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego, has this advice for parents: "Cool it. Warm rooms and too many clothes can trigger a heat rash."

    What Does Heat Rash Look Like?

    Also referred to as prickly heat or miliaria, heat rash shows up as red bumps and splotchy red patches on the skin. "Heat rash generally occurs on clothed parts of the body such as the groin, abdomen and armpits," explains Parents advisor Jody A. Levine, M.D., director of dermatology at Plastic Surgery & Dermatology of NYC. The rash can be accompanied by a pins-and-needles sensation, so parents should watch for some possible scratching.

    How to Relieve Your Baby's Symptoms

    You can start by cooling both room and baby. If it's summer, crank up the A/C a notch or put a fan in your his room to lower the temperature. In winter, be sure to monitor your thermostat. "Overheating your home in the winter and keeping the baby swaddled up creates a high risk for heat rash," says Dr. Eichenfield. Dress him in loose-fitting, breathable clothes. If he's scratching, calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream may be used, says Dr. Levine. "But only with your pediatrician or dermatologist's approval."

    Is Heat Rash Ever Serious?

    Prickly heat usually clears up within in a few days, but can occasionally become a bigger problem. "Parents should watch out for deep-red areas and blisters," says Dr. Eichenfield. "It won't look like regular prickly heat." And if the rash extends outside the usual areas--the clothed parts of the body--then it's time for another trip to your pediatrician or dermatologist.

    Preventing Heat Rash

    Think about the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Her porridge was too hot, then too cold, and finally, just right. The same concept can be applied to regulating your baby's body temperature. You're looking for "just right." Of course, this could involve a little trial and error but you can start by considering your own comfort. If you're too hot, he might be, too. Resist the urge to overdress. If you strike the right balance between his environment and attire, you should be able to keep prickly heat away.

    How to Keep Your Baby Comfortable in the Summer Heat

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