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What is prickly heat?

Cactus or prickly heat?

What is prickly heat you may ask.

Quite simply – prickly heat is an allergic reaction to the heat.  Biologically, when you sweat as the temperature soars, your sweat glands become blocked.  Sweat is unable to escape the body and leaks into the skin causing redness, soreness, a pin prick sensation and very often a rash.

Other names for it are heat rash, sweat rash  or miliaria.  It can start slowly, but rapidly cover the body, and can remain even when the temperature comes down.  When you spot those first signs you can feel like it’s game over for the summer.

Things that cause prickly heat include high temperature and humidity, excessive sweating caused by physical activity, tight synthetic clothing, fever from illness and bandages.  Watch out – it can start at any time in your life – what joy!

Some medications may also increase the risk of heat rash such as beta blockers, and particularly pertinent for us skincare lovers, the use of prescription strength retinol called isotretinoin.

Treatment for your prickly heat

Options for treatment depend on your general health and the symptoms.  Low level treatment options include wearing loose breathable fabrics which allow air to circulate.  Other options include actually attempting to lower your skin temperature, cool showers, or a cold compress.  Nettle supplements have proven to contain a natural anti histamine and may help when you’re in the middle of an episode.

Using a once a day high quality SPF will help as well as reducing your use of thick skincare creams etc.  You may be able to help by taking a low dose antihistamine in the run up to your holiday – and for those brave enough amongst us – a very diluted Dettol wash can help prevent bacteria that contributes to a prickly heat rash!

Save your summer!

Love Ellen xXx

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