Should Your Child See a Doctor?

Heat Rash

Is this your child's symptom?

  • A fine pink rash caused by overheating
  • Mainly on the neck, chest, and upper back

If not, try one of these:

Symptoms of Heat Rash

  • Tiny, pink bumps
  • Mainly on the neck, chest and upper back
  • Occurs during hot, humid weather or after lots of sun
  • Heat rash can be itchy
  • Older children may have a "prickly" pins and needles feeling
  • In babies, the rash can have some tiny water blisters
  • No fever or illness
  • Also called "prickly heat"

Causes of Heat Rash

  • Heat rash is caused by blocked-off sweat glands.
  • Hot Weather. Hot, humid weather can cause the sweat glands to be overworked.
  • Ointment. Babies can also get it in the wintertime from ointments put on the skin. Reason: Ointments can block off sweat glands.
  • Location. Heat rash of the forehead can be caused by oil or ointment on the hair. Heat rash of the face of a breastfed baby can be caused by lanolin put on the nipples. Heat rash of the chest can be caused by menthol ointments put on for coughs.
  • Exercise. Older children can get heat rash with hard exercise.

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER


  • Fever and looks infected spreading redness, pus
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Looks infected spreading redness, pus, but no fever
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Rash is not gone after 3 days of treatment
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Heat rash

Care Advice for Heat Rash

  1. What You Should Know About Heat Rash:
    • Heat rash is caused by blocked-off sweat glands.
    • It's common in hot, humid weather.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Cooling the Skin:
    • Cool off the skin to treat and prevent heat rash.
    • For large rashes, give your child a cool bath without soap. Do this for 10 minutes. Caution: Avoid any chill. Let the skin air-dry. Do this 3 or more times a day.
    • For small rashes, put a cool, wet washcloth on the area. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes. Then let the skin air-dry.
    • Dress in as few layers of clothing as you can.
    • Lower the temperature in your home if you can.
  3. Sleeping Cooler:
    • When your child is asleep, run a fan in the bedroom.
    • During sleep, have your child lie on a cotton towel to absorb sweat. Note: Only for older children age over 1 year.
  4. Steroid Cream for Itching:
    • Use 1% hydrocortisone cream such as Cortaid. No prescription is needed.
    • Put it on itchy spots 3 times per day.
    • Avoid hydrocortisone ointment.
    • Calamine lotion can also work.
  5. Do Not Use Ointments:
    • Avoid all ointments or oils on the skin. Reason: They can block off sweat glands.
    • Be sure the rash isn't caused by a menthol ointment being used for a cough.
  6. What to Expect:
    • With treatment, heat rash will clear up in 2 to 3 days.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Rash lasts more than 3 days on this treatment
    • Rash starts to look infected
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Copyright 1994-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.