Medical Q&As

Prickly heat - prevention?

I suffer from prickly heat every time I go on a sun holiday. I usually end up going to the local pharmacy where they give me a cream and tablets. The treatment has been very effective. What I would like to know is if there is any way of preventing this from happening?

Prickly heat is a common condition and affects large numbers of Irish people every year especially when they travel to countries with a warm and humid climate. The condition usually affects clothed parts of the body and often disappears within a few days. However, sometimes it can contribute to heat exhaustion and can be quite severe. It usually begins with excessive perspiration with some of the sweat being trapped beneath the skin. This gives the skin a bumpy texture. The prickly sensation is produced when the heat bumps discharge the sweat contained therein. If you feel the condition developing then take a cool shower or bath. If you continue to sweat donít use an antiperspirant because this may trap more perspiration in the skin. Be careful about using any oil-based products on your skin for the same reason. Calamine lotion can help to cool the skin and also relieves itch but it has to be re-applied frequently because its effects are short lived. 1% hydrocortisone, which is now an over the counter product, can also be very helpful in relieving skin irritation. Some people also find antihistamines very helpful but you need to be aware that they interact with alcohol and can cause drowsiness. To prevent prickly heat it is best to wear light loose fitting clothes and try to keep your skin cool with fans and cool showers. If your budget permits it is also worth considering upgrading to accommodation with air-conditioning.