Health and safety should be your top priorities in any survival scenario. You must be aware of your body and address any issues immediately to avoid complications.
One commonly overlooked skin issue is prickly heat rash. It is usually mild and goes away on its own. Still, it can lead to severe complications if you aren’t careful.
Continue reading to learn how to identify, treat, and prevent heat rash.
The Survivor’s Guide to Heat Rash
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, so you must take care of it if you want to survive. In some emergencies, you might not have access to convenient medical care.
A trip to the pharmacy for antibiotic ointment might be out of the question. If the SHTF scenario is severe enough, you might not even be able to visit the hospital. Keep your skin clean to prevent life-threatening infections and tend to any wounds when they appear.
Day-to-day life brings numerous abrasions, nicks, cuts, and scrapes. Ensure you clean affected skin with soap and water daily to prevent these minor wounds from becoming more serious.
A heat rash is one minor skin irritation that can evolve into a nasty infection. These are caused by sweat and oil getting trapped under the skin, leading to pustules and itchy bumps.
Despite the name, a heat rash can occur any time of year. This is one reason that loose, layered clothing is essential for surviving cold environments.
The proper clothing is just part of the equation regarding freezing weather. Read this guide to the Essential Winter Survival Gear to Keep You Warm and Alive to learn more.
What Is Heat Rash?
Heat rash is skin irritation from sweat and oil trapped under hot, inflamed skin. The rash itself may present differently depending on the person and cause.
It often develops in areas of the skin that are covered by tight clothing. You are most likely to spot this itchy rash on the affected individuals’ thighs, waist, or underarms.
Still, rashes can pop up anywhere the conditions are right. If you have an itchy red rash, you should ensure it is not caused by something else.
Learn how to identify rashes caused by poison ivy, oak, and sumac, as well as common bug bites. Visit a doctor if you have a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or other serious symptoms associated with a new rash.
Identifying Heat Rash
The easiest way to identify heat rash is to consider notable causes. If it is hot or the inflammation has developed somewhere that clothing tends to rub or in folds of skin, it is probably a heat rash.
There are three different levels of this rash. Take note of the symptoms of each type and contact a doctor if your rash develops complications.
In its mildest form, this rash looks like small fluid-filled pustules that easily burst when you apply pressure. This mild version is medically known as miliaria crystallina, and it will likely go away on its own.
A moderate form called prickly heat rash occurs when a mild rash is left unaddressed, and irritation persists. The skin becomes red and patchy, and itchy bumps spread across the affected area.
This is called miliaria rubra, and if it progresses and the bumps fill with pus, it becomes miliaria pustulosa.
The most severe and painful form of heat rash is miliaria profunda. It is caused by a blockage in the deepest layer of the skin, resulting in itchy, hard welts that may burst.
All forms of heat rash are most likely to occur in skin folds and areas like the underarms, groin, thighs, and waist in adults. Heat rash in babies often appears on the neck, shoulders, and chest.
Heat Rash Home Remedies
Most cases of heat rash are easy to treat at home. Generally, the rash goes away once the skin cools and any irritating clothing gets removed.
There are home remedies you can try to help deal with the symptoms of heat rash while it clears up.
Wash affected skin with mild soap and cool water, then pat dry with a soft towel. Apply moisturizing aloe vera and leave the skin uncovered while it dries.
When to Visit a Doctor
You should call a doctor for advice if the heat rash does not improve or worsens after the skin cools. This may indicate a more severe skin infection requiring antibiotic or antifungal treatment.
There are key symptoms to look for in any skin abrasion that should prompt you to seek medical attention immediately. When you experience a seemingly mild rash, burn, or blister, it can become much more serious if left unattended.
Learn to recognize common signs of infection, including:
- Red streaks running from the wound toward the heart
- Swollen, hot, red skin surrounding the wound
- Severe pain
- Excessive pus and discharge
What should you do if a heat rash develops severe symptoms? Go to your nearest emergency room or urgent care, where you will receive antibiotics like amoxicillin or doxycycline.
How to Prevent Heat Rash
An ounce of treatment is worth a pound of cure when taking care of your skin. You don’t want to deal with skin infections on top of everything else in a survival scenario.
The best way to prevent heat rash is by wearing loose-fitting breathable clothing. You must let your sweat evaporate, so it does not get trapped underneath your skin.
Regardless of whether it is hot or cold outside, your base layer should be breathable and not too tight. Still, heat rash is more common in hot weather.
If you are dealing with high heat and humidity, you can prevent heat rash and other heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Take regular breaks in the shade, drink plenty of fluids, and consider rinsing off excess sweat with cool, not cold, water.
How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent Heat Rash
After reading this guide, you should understand how to spot and treat heat rash and prevent it from returning. Explore our First Aid section to learn more survival first aid tips.