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Conditions

Prickly Heat

Polymorphic Light Eruption

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Prickly heat is also known as heat rash or miliaria. It is a red and itchy rash on the skin that causes a stinging or prickly feeling, hence the name. Although prickly heat usually occurs in hot conditions, it can affect people in winter if they are wearing too much clothing or sit too close to a heater. Even in summer, the rash is most common on areas of the body that are covered by clothing, but prickly heat can affect any area of the skin.

The rash occurs when sweat glands become blocked, generally as a result of excessive sweating. This is because bacteria and dead skin cells can collect in the sweat glands, trapping the sweat which subsequently bursts out and irritates the skin. The rash itself is usually composed of tiny spots and bumps in an area of red skin.

Prickly heat is not a serious condition and can often be avoided or managed by taking practical steps. For example, spending time in the shade and avoiding exposure to heat will lessen the amount of sweat produced. Loose, cotton clothing will also make sweating less likely than wearing synthetic fabrics. In terms of treatment, calamine lotion both sooths and cools itchy skin, whilst hydrocortisone cream can reduce the itching. However, this should not be applied to the face and as always, it is important to follow the instructions. Generally a prickly heat rash will disappear of its own accord within a couple of days.

A similar condition is polymorphic light eruption (PLE), which is caused by exposure to sunlight. The condition can develop after as little as 20 minutes exposure to the sun, although the itchy spots are often delayed in their onset and may take 5 to 10 days to clear. Unlike prickly heat, it isn’t related to overheating, although prevention methods and treatment are generally the same.

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Hot spring weather in the UK 2016 has just caused my chest and neck area to become very inflamed and irritated; acute burning sensation over the last 48 hours and left unable to treat it after my typically unhelpful GP receptionist demanded that I have a phone number for the doctor to call me on, despite a patient-absent surgery on the Friday mid morning to them. The phone situation aside, as could not locate my charger for it, then told to go to the chemist for advice by this very same receptionist. My partner went on my behalf as I was in too much pain to move - could only get Piriform Antihistamines that numbed some of the pain on Friday and Saturday afternoon. Now they are doing nothing at all to calm the problem and have so far spent the whole of Sunday in absolute agony. Ice cubes/E45 and water merely inflame it even more!. I am a vulnerable adult and suffer with acute DBP and afraid of going back to my GP surgery on Monday which is an open door surgery service, the receptionist is not at all very nice and caused anxiety to flare in other vulnerable patients in recent past, my partner also being told to wait indefinitely for urgent medication to treat his schizophrenia condition whilst she made personal family calls on his visit to the surgery.





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I have prickly heat at the moment im in morrocco so went and had a hamam so totally rid my seif of dead skin, im taking antihistamines and also have a cream from the chemist for the itch, im miserable im covered head to toe in a rash it looks like im burnt but its just the rash I want to rip my skin off, this is constant day or night sunny or not, this only started a few years ago up to this point I never got prickly heat came on suddenly on my honey moon, summers and summer holidays are ruined for me and my kids cos I spent my days watching them from the room having fun, and even the suggestion of staying out of the sun doesnt work.





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Morocco is a very hot country and UV rays from the intense sun will likely be making the condition far worse. I never go away abroad for this particular reason, yet the UK underwent a mini heat-wave in March 2016 that caused my chest to inflame and now sitting here with wet towels around me and not cooling it down, whilst powerful antihistamines no longer doing anything at all. Steroid-creams are often the best kind of immediate skin treatment yet can only be prescribed by a GP. Because of my very own sensitive skin, I used to have Vit D injections by a nurse at my GP surgery as it was discovered after many blood tests that I had a B deficiency that caused my skin to react badly to exposure of the sun - despite never staying out for more than 20 minutes. You likely have an underlying problem like this too and not know about it?. Also, the planet is definitely warming as ordinarily do not ever get heat rash this bad until the last few days. If I were you, book a flight home at the soonest opportunity and see your GP who will have a better rapport understanding with you than one you are not acquainted. Awful that you will lose your holiday time yet if condition is getting worse, then could lead to acute stress ruining your break even more.

Hi I wonder if u can help me , I've had itchy armpits for over 5months !!there is no visible rush .the doctor prescribed hydrocortisone with made the symptoms disappear but come back again after the 1 week prescribed period. I also tried anti-fungal creams that didn't help at all .The doctor says she has no idea why it's happening so I thought of asking you. I have no other symptoms .Kind regards Gail





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It's ruining my holiday right now. Only got one more day in Greece and it's driven me mental, I feel sorry for my partner. There's no rash, just the relentless prickles on my upper back and chest as well as my head. I just can't get an understanding or suss a pattern. Pretty much given up at this point, it's exhausting.





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Hi wondered if someone could help. Normally before i go on hoilday i use the sunbeds for a bit off a base tan then on hoilday tan a little bit....this year using them had gave me horrible prickly heat so itchy and red on my shins and back...does anyone know if when i go in the sun will it make it better or worse?





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I previously posted this here on Channel 4's embarrassing bodies but it seems to be gone since so re-posting it here as I think it has helped a lot of people over the years and it has worked every year since for my wife. The original post is below... I feel like we may have found the solution to my wife’s prickly heat and I want to share it with those looking for a solution, especially, when I didn’t see this posted anywhere during my searches. She literally tried every preventative measure we could find and we tried every suggestion people gave us because everyone seems to think they know the answer. Truth be told, I’m sure a lot of these things worked for other people but not my wife. So let’s do a quick run down on everything she tried: Before we start, you can assume we did all the no brainer stuff like trying to keep cool, not pilling on the creams too much, not using cheap sun creams, showering before and after being in the sun and regular dips in the water and the rest, so assume all that and we’ll get to the suggestions for people who really have to struggle with this, bar the suggestion of staying out of the sun, that’s a pretty annoying suggestion, please don’t make it! 1) Hypo Allergenic Sun Creams: These were one of the first thing she tried this year and we brought Soltan and Piz Buin factor 15s and they did seem to help but like many of these things, there may have been a marginal improvement and it’s hard to attribute it to any of these things. Marginal though, still aint gona cut it for anyone who has had this. 2) Antihistamine Tablets: She started taking these 2 weeks before we went on holidays. It didn’t work last year and it didn’t work this year. I don’t think it made any difference at all! 3) Vitamin C: Ok so this one really seems like a bit of an old wives tale but she was willing to try anything so we gave it a go this year. Of course it did absolutely nothing, although at this stage, the marginal improvement we had this year before the final solution, as apposed to last year could be down to any of these. 4) Non Perfumed Toiletries: So this is a common one you hear, and who knows, maybe that is what causes it for some people. For my wife, taking non perfumed, shower gel, soap, shampoo etc. made no difference. 5) Exfoliating: she had a rough glove thing and used the non perfumed stuff I mentioned, literally nearly taking a layer of skin off with that thing did nothing either except make her raw and grumpyJ. 6) E45 Cream: I long held the believe that this was simply a case of blocked pores, so keeping them open and not blocking them up should be the key. This stuff sounded then ideal because you put it on a while before the sun cream and it’s supposed to open your pores. He presto right! No blocked pores after you put on your sun cream! Yup you guessed it, no workie and I really had my money on that one. 7) Bare Minerals Sun Block: So my wife uses “Bare Minerals” products for her skin and she has very soft delicate skin I guess you could say. So anyway she swears by their gear and loves their products. So she came across this makeup based powdered sun block and decided to give it a go, I suppose it was mainly to be used on the face but again, it seemed to totally make sense, if it was the creams blocking up the pores, surely this was the perfect solution. Nope, if anything she was worse after it. So as we entered the final few days of the holiday, she was pretty down about it because in my mind, she really, really had tried pretty much everything this year and so it wasn’t until I was reading something on a web page that made me think. It mentioned how people who suffer from prickly heat or heat rash can have 3 times more of a bacterial called Staphylococcus epidermidis on their skin than those that don’t. We all have this, just seems people who get the rash have more. As it happened, we had a bar of Dettol soap, antibacterial soap with us. One of the many weapons in her arsenal and it occurred to me, if these bacteria could be part of the problem, could using the soap in heavy quantities help? So she tried this, lathering herself head to foot in heaps of the Dettol soap, I mean really pilling it on now before we put the sun cream on and headed out into the sun and low and behold, that evening when we got back to the room, no flare up. The second day did the same thing and that evening, npo flare up and the prickly heat from the rest of the week was nearly gone. Unfortunately, that was the last day of sun on the holiday and we had to head home the next day but we were pretty convinced that we had found the solution. I should just mention that my wife focused primarily on prevention and we didn’t pay too much attention to treatment because at that stage, you are just peeing against the wind. So just in terms of treatment from earlier in the holiday, the Hydrocortisone Cream did nothing for her but she found the calamine lotion excellent for taking down the prickly heat rash in a matter of hours instead of days. So there you go, solution, at least for my wife for the prevention of Prickly Heat Rash is simply: Heavy Lathering of Antibacterial Soap in the shower before applying hypoallergenic sun cream and I think the antihistamine tablets and non perfumed toiletries might be no harm either. I hope this helps someone else!





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Thank you so much for your input! This does make sense I for one am going to try this next year x

I have been itchy all over my body especially at night since summer has started.. I think this is prickly heat but I don't have any raised bumps or stops with my rashes? I just have red irritated patches over my body where it is itchy.. Please help asap!





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I have been itchy all over my body especially at night since summer has started.. I think this is prickly heat but I don't have any raised bumps or stops with my rashes? I just have red irritated patches over my body where it is itchy.. Please help asap!





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Prednisolone tablets! They are the only thing that works for me 100% - 20mg to knock it on the head! I take 5-10mg a day when we are somewhere hot to keep it away. Taken them for years whenever we are in hot climes without any problems. Prednisolone is a steroid & I know people who wont take it for this reason, but you only need a very low dose & I am happy to take it while I am in a hot country to stop getting prickly heat as it was making my life a such a misery whenever we went somewhere hot!I was prescribed it by a local doctor many years in Portugal & it totally knocked it out in a few hours never to return while I took the tablets- no more pain rash or itching! Some doctors here will give it to you on prescription others wont, it's not a drug to take long term unless you really have too but when I have them for a 2 or 3 weeks I have never found any side effects & it suits me fine. You can buy them over the counter in most pharmacys in the Mediterranean without a prescription so I always stock up when I'm on holiday.Personally I wouldn’t be without them but I know others wouldn’t be keen taking them.





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I have been suffering from Prickiky heat on and off for years! Last year I was recommended Quercetin plus vitamin C tablets ( Holland and Barrett sell them, they boost your immune system) I took them 3 months before our Caribbean holiday along with antihistamine tablets and also starred using Piz Buin allergy sun cream. I didn't suffer from Prickily heat all holiday!!! I've just started taking the Quercetin tablets now for our October holiday. I totally recommend these pills ☀️





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The symptoms of prickly heat tend to appear a few days after exposure to hot temperatures. But occasionally, symptoms do not appear for several weeks or months. Read More »

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