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Infant and Child Health

Prickly Heat (Sweat Rash)

Prevention - Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Prickly heat, also called heat rash, sweat rash, or miliaria, is a rash of red or pink dots that appears on an infant's head, neck, and shoulders. The dots look like tiny pimples.

Prickly heat often develops when parents dress their baby too warmly, but it can develop in any baby when the weather is hot. An infant should be dressed just as lightly as an adult and will be comfortable at the same temperature. It is normal for a baby's hands and feet to feel cold to the touch.

Prevention

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Do not overdress your baby. Place your hand between the baby's shoulder blades. If the skin is hot or moist, the baby is too warm.

Home Treatment

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  • Dress the baby in as few clothes as possible during hot weather.

  • Keep the baby's skin cool and dry.

  • Keep the baby's sleeping area cool.

  • Apply hydrocortisone cream (0.5 percent) to help heal the rash.

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • If the rash looks infected or lasts longer than 3 days.

  • If the infant looks sick.

  • If prickly heat is accompanied by a fever of 37.4°C (99.4°F) in an infant younger than 3 months of age, and the fever doesn't come down after you remove extra clothing from the infant.

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