How To Treat Heat Rash At Home, According To An Expert

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Summertime, and the livin' is ... hot and sticky. Seriously, sometimes the heat and humidity that accompany summer can make it feel like you're spending three months living inside of a closed mouth. And all of that hot damp skin means you might also become much more familiar than you'd like with the dreaded heat rash. Fear not my friendlies, all is not lost. There are ways to treat heat rash and heat-related hives. But first, it's important to make sure your skin issues are the result of heat rash and not something else.

"Heat rash is a painful skin condition that often occurs in hot weather," Dr. Gretchen Frieling, a Boston-area board certified dermatopathologist, tells Bustle. "The symptoms of heat rash include small clusters of tiny, raised bumps on red, irritated skin. A prickly, burning, or itchy sensation may also accompany heat rash."

Also known as prickly heat, sweat rash or miliaria rubra, heat rash usually appears around skin folds on the neck, groin, and under the arms when your pores trap sweat (cute!). While heat rash isn't dangerous, and will typically go away once you cool down, it's certainly uncomfortable. "While there are many natural remedies for prickly heat, preventing it is key," Dr. Frieling says. And although it's not 100% preventable, there are definitely things you can do to reduce the likelihood you'll spend your entire summer walking around itchy and irritated.

1. Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing

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Dr. Frieling recommends wearing loose-fitting cotton clothing during hot weather because tight clothing prevents air circulation, which can clog pores. If you wear pajamas to bed, make sure those are also loose-fitting and made of moisture-wicking materials like cotton or bamboo. The same goes for your sheets.

2. Take Cool Baths & Showers

There are few things better than a cold drink of water on a hot day. Don't forget to give your skin a drink, too by opting for cool baths and showers during hot weather. "Heat rash usually eases up after the skin is cooled down. Bathing in cool water can help with this. Washing the skin gently can also unclog the pores. This is crucial, since clogged pores contribute to heat rash. Ensure that you dry your skin properly after bathing. Skin that’s left wet can get irritated," Dr. Frieling says.

If you have a heat rash, you can also take an oatmeal bath or shower. Dr. Frieling suggests adding one to two cups of oatmeal to a lukewarm bath and soaking for 15 to 20 minutes. If you don't have a tub, use the oatmeal to gently scrub your skin in the shower. It's also important to avoid using harsh soaps and moisturizers when your skin is irritated.

3. Discover The Magic Of Aloe Vera

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Aloe vera isn't just for soothing sunburns; it can also help calm heat rash. "Pluck an aloe leaf and cut it. Squeeze out the natural gel in the leaf into a bowl. Apply this onto the affected part of the body and massage it in. Repeat this once or twice every day until you get relief from prickly heat," Dr. Frieling recommends. "The antibacterial and antiseptic properties of aloe vera gel help reduce various types of skin rashes, including those caused by prickly heat. It will help alleviate the inflammation and also ease the redness."

4. Apply A Cold Compress

If you're prone to hives — red, itchy skin welts — then you likely know they can flare up when your body overheats. Dr. Frieling suggests using a cold compress or applying a cool, damp cloth to your hives to reduce both itching and inflammation.

5. Antihistamines & Anti-Itch Medications

If your hives or skin rashes are heat related, and you're so itchy you feel like you're going to lose your mind, antihistamines and anti-itch medications can provide relief, Dr. Frieling says. Just make sure to opt for a non-drowsy allergy medicine so you're not falling asleep at your desk.

Heat-related rashes and hives are hella uncomfortable, but they don't have to derail your entire summer. Give your skin a little extra TLC, and before you know it you'll be looking for ways to relieve your dry winter skin. It's always something, so try to enjoy summer while it lasts.