Summer is meant for vacation throughout the world. It is the time to enjoy the sunny days relaxing the body and mind. But temperate countries usually suffer from hot sun and make people run for shelter or air-conditioned rooms to avoid heat stroke, dehydration and prickly heat.
Usually, hot temperate climates in the equatorial region and high altitudes cause severe prickly heat due to high intensity UV rays. The penetration of UV rays usually causes sunburn. To protect our skin from this, sweat glands secrete more sweat and sebum to maintain body temperature and outweigh body dryness. The dust gets mixed up with sebum and sweat to block the sweat pores. The trapped secretion in the sweat duct forms the eruptions – the prickly heat.
Prickly heat is a non-contagious, superficial eruption of the skin occurring due to obstructive disorders of sweat glands. It is medically termed as ‘Milaria’. It is also otherwise termed as Lichen tropicus / heat rash / sweat rash. Prickly heat commonly occurs after / during excessive sweating i.e. “hyperhidrosis”. It is usually identified as tiny blister-like eruptions which usually last for 3-7 days. These small eruptions, if they persist or prolong, can make a child irritable and create immense inferiority complex in an adult’s mental health. Even though it never affects general health, it affects the personality more because of which many people get offended easily.
Simply put, it is a summer special. It can commonly occur in any one, irrespective of age and sex. But the intensity of prickly heat may vary depending upon the nature of sweat, race, weather, environment, nature of work, food, exercise, etc. It is more likely to occur on the forehead, hand, neck, back and chest. Also, children most commonly suffer from prickly heat because they have small sweat pores, more coverings, uncleanliness and not wiping off the sweat.
Causes – To pinpoint, the occurrence is mainly due to clogged sweat pores either due to obstruction or allergic reactions. The main triggers are
- Sweating more due to strenuous exercise in hot temperature / environment
- Exposure to hot sun or ultra violet rays
- Over/faulty coverings or non-porous or synthetic clothes which do not allow the sweat to dry fast
symptoms – The symptom of prickly heat is initially mistaken as chickenpox (also common in summer). The absence of cold symptoms, fever and blister formation easily rule out chickenpox. The common symptoms of prickly heat are:
- Crops of small reddish eruptions occur in areas where you sweat more, especially forehead, hand, neck, back and chest, resembling the skin of a jack fruit
- Papular eruptions occur suddenly and need a week time to disappear
- Violent itch and redness on eruptions and its surroundings
- Pricking/burning pain in the eruptive areas which become more after scratching
- Pustule formation on getting injured by scratching with nails
- Restlessness and irritability causing sleeplessness
- Ignorance or lack of management usually prolong the eruptions with recurring fresh crops of eruptions
Diagnosis – Appearance of the skin itself indicates the diagnosis. Normally no tests are required for prickly heat.
PREVENTION & MANAGEMENT
Even simple care prevents these thorns of summer. The secret lies in keeping yourself cool and clean. The best treatment for prickly heat is to keep one’s body cool. Dusting powder can give soothing and smoothening comfort.
- Maintain personal hygeine/cleanliness
- Maintain room temperature and humidity with air-conditioner or fan or ventilators
- Have good shower twice a day
- Wear cotton underclothes/clothes
- Wear loose dress to provide good aeration to the body
- After exercise, wash/wipe sweat away so that the salty deposit does not clog the sweat pores
- Lot of water to keep good body hydration
- Fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy skin especially carrot, apple, pineapple, papaya, orange, lime, cherry, ginger, beetroot, spinach
- Vitamins A, C and zinc supplements for healthy skin
- Direct sunlight/hot sun and hot places
- Strenuous physical activity which may cause you to sweat more.
- Congested/crowded places
- Steam baths
- Tight fitting/synthetic clothes
- Oily, spicy and fatty/fast foods
- High-protein diet
- Oil applications to the body which may attract dust to clog the sweat pores
- Stimulants – coffee, alcohol, smoking & chewing tobacco
- Preservative added tin packed foods/drinks
- Unnecessary medications
Usually to beat the discomfort of prickly heat, care must be taken to manage sweat, i.e.
- Dry the sweat fast
- Cut down the sweat process by changing temperature or environment
- Keep cleanliness with soft water/cleanser
- Use sun protection creams to avoid sun allergy
GENERAL TREATMENT – Mostly no one goes to a doctor for prickly heat treatment in the initial stages. They manage/ignore without any medication or manage with simple talcum or prickly heat powders. But recurrent and persistent crops of prickly heat often compel one to opt for treatment. Allergic prickly heat eruptions will disappear mostly the next day or even immediately after ruling out allergic or exciting cause. In Allopathy, mostly internal medicines are not prescribed. They prescribe cleansers (salicylic acid, alcohol, etc), calamine or other soothing/smoothening lotions with vitamin A and C supplements. Sometimes, in extreme cases they also prescribe antibiotics/antihistamines and steroids for violent itching eruptions.
Everyone sweats but not everyone develops prickly heat. From olden days, prickly heat is treated only in the external mode i.e. with powders (sandal or turmeric), oils and even with clay. At present also it is treated externally with talcum powders, prickly heat powders, lotions, etc. But prickly heat used to recur often and people suffering from it develop the habit of using prickly powders/lotions continuously. Recurrences are usually common in skin disorders, making no exception of prickly heat. Medicated prickly heat powders available in the market can be used for soothing/ smoothening prickly heat, only for that day’s comfort. It is always better to take internal Homeopathic treatment to cure prickly heat altogether by raising natural resistance without side-effects. Homeopathy makes prickly heat to fade in a fast manner and finally cures it in the simplest, coolest way.
The Homeopathy medicines will not arrest or work against the sweat process altogether, but will revive normal uninterrupted sweat process and flow to cure the prickly heat. Homeopathy can show its best results in complaints of these sweat disorders. When the sweat process is corrected to normal with Homeopathy treatment, the body will feel the comfort and wellbeing sensation without the need for regular management of prickly heat or air-conditioner and the rest.
Also, Homeopathy treatment will provide resistance to bear the heat of the sun and cure the tendency to obstruct the sweat glands or allergic to heat. Homeopathy treatment can smooth these summer thorns to make skin silky. Like the good old saying, ‘Pain is inevitable & Suffering is optional’, the predictable summer thorns can be rooted out without opting for suffering, through Homeopathy treatment.
Homeopathic medicines commonly used in cases of prickly heat eruptions are Acid nit, Agaricus, Ammon mur, Anti crud, Anthraxinum, Ars alb, Bellis per, Beri beri Aq, Calc picr, Cantharis, Carbo animalis, Causticum, Ferrum Iod, Hepasulf, Hydrocotyle, kali ars, Kali Brom, Medusa, Nat mur, Petroleum, Psorinum, Radium Brom, Rhus tox, Sarasaparilla, Silicea, Sulphur, Syzygium Jambolanum, Urtica urens, etc. These Medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homeopath.
Dr. S. Chidambaranathan, BHMS, MD (Homeo)
24 E. New Mahalipatti Road
Tel: +91-452-233-8833 | +91-984-319-1011 (Mob)
(Disclaimer - The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)