How to beat prickly heat

How to beat prickly heat

The summer is meant to be an easy, care-free time, but for many of us the warm weather is seriously undermined by itchy prickly heat rash. Find out everything you need to know including the available treatments here.


What is prickly heat?

It's an irritating condition that causes itching and a rash made up of tiny spots or bumps on the skin. It can develop anywhere on your body after exposure to hot temperatures, but is most common on the face, neck, back, chest and thighs. You may get a tingling, prickly sensation, swelling and itchiness. Its proper scientific name is miliaria rubra. 

What causes it?

Prickly heat happens when you're sweating more than usual, so that's why you'll often suffer on hot days or sunny holidays. It's caused by sweat glands getting blocked and sweat being trapped beneath your skin, resulting in irritation. Anyone can suffer from it, but it's made more likely if you're overweight, have spent a long period in bed with illness or immobility or have been wearing too many clothes.


Can you get prickly heat in the winter?

Annoyingly - yes you can! Especially if you're wearing lots of warm clothes or have been sitting too close to a fire or heater.

Is there a treatment for prickly heat?

Here's the good news - it's not a serious condition (although it can be irritating and make you feel self-conscious) and there are lots of ways to help:

  • Stay out of the heat. Where possible, stay in the shade, fan yourself and have plenty of nice cold drinks to stop you sweating. Wear loose, cotton clothing to help your skin breathe and keep you cool.
  • Take a cool bath or shower to stop you sweating and relieve some of the irritation.
  • Antihistamine tablets may help - although you should check with your GP first.
  • Try cheap and cheerful calamine lotion, available at most pharmacies, which is great for soothing irritation.
  • There's also prickly heat powder, but these can be quite pricey.


  • Find out more from the NHS
  • For more health tips, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine