Prickly Heat (Miliaria) Symptoms and Treatments
This irritating condition, also called heat rash or miliaria, tends to affect people from temperate climates on first visiting the tropics. The overworked sweat glands become blocked by sebum (the skin's natural lubricant), trap perspiration and then burst. Inflammation causes the characteristic itching, prickling sensation, and the rupture of large numbers of sweat glands can lead to heatstroke.
- Moist, inflamed itchy patches in armpits, groin and between rolls of body fat
- Occurs in a tropical or subtropical hot, wet environment
- More common in fair-skinned people
- Triggers include being overweight, using soap too often and overproduction of sebum
A whole food diet, exercise and relaxation will be recommended. To discourage further perspiration, air needs to flow freely over the skin's surface - wear cool, loose, cotton clothing. Use fans, drink plenty of water, go swimming and bathe affected areas. Cold poultices, showers, compresses and skin lotions are also recommended. Regular exercise might be rescheduled if carried out in a hot, moist climate.
Vitamins and Minerals
Whole foods for general and skin health, rich in all the antioxidants, especially the fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin A (beta-carotene), and in cis-linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, will be recommended. Drink plenty of cool fluids and herbal teas, such as green tea. A freshly squeezed juice combination to help restore lost fluids and salts consists of equal volumes of apple and carrot, with a little cucumber.
Specific supplements include zinc, beta-carotene, vitamin B-complex (especially calcium pantothenate) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and vitamins C and E.
Bathe the affected area with cold chamomile and/or tea tree infusions. For a quick relief-bringing compress, wring out a flannel that has been soaked in a basin of ice-cold water containing 4 teaspoons (20 ml) distilled witch hazel, and apply directly to the prickly heat rash.
Add 2-3 drops of chamomile or calendula essence to 8 fl. oz (200 ml) cold water and spray the rash liberally. Mix 3-4 drops of myrrh or lavender with 2 teaspoons (10 ml) soya oil and spread on gently to relieve the inflammation; use neroli essence similarly, or add to bathwater, to relieve the knotted inner tension that can accompany a persistent itch.
Take Apis 30c every 2 hours for up to 10 doses, as soon as the prickling sensation starts, and if necessary, repeat the dose daily. As a preventative, take Sol 30c three times a day during exposure to hot, wet conditions, for 3 weeks out. Aconitum napellus is also sometimes prescribed.
Prickly heat is usually a transient condition and does not tend to last, but for frequent outbreaks, stress-beating therapies such as yoga, t'ai chi and relaxation and meditation may be helpful. Cranial osteopathy and/or acupuncture may also be used as a means to harmonize the various body systems and boost the immune cells.
This consists of cold compresses, cool showers and cooling skin lotion.
- Keep as cool as possible.
- Wear loose, cotton garments.
- Avoid hot baths and showers
- Avoid highly spiced food, hot drinks and meat extract (it is very salty)
- Drink plenty of cool fluids
- Follow self-help advice as soon as prickly heat appears - salt and water loss can trigger heatstroke.