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Miliaria (miliaria rubra, sweat rash or prickly heat) is a skin diseasemarked by small and itchy rashes. Miliaria is a common condition in hot and humid conditions, such as in the tropics and during the summer season. Although it affects people of all ages, it is especially common in children and infants due to their underdeveloped sweat glands.


  • 1 Reason for occurring
  • 2 Symptoms
  • 3 Other types of Miliaria
  • 4 Prevention
  • 5 Treatment
  • 6 External links

Reason for occurring

Miliaria (Prickly Heat) occurs when the sweat glands get plugged with dead skin cells and bacteria such as Staphylococcus epidermidis which are normally occurring bacteria on the skin also associated with acne. The trapped sweat leads to irritation (prickling), itching and to a rash of very small blisters, usually in a localised area of the skin.


Symptoms of miliaria include small and red rashes, which often itch or have a 'pins-and-needles' sensation. There could be a number of areas on a sufferer's body where the prickly heat rashes may simultaneously occur. Common areas include face, neck, under the breasts and under the scrotum. Other areas include skin folds, areas of the body that may rub against clothing, such as the back, chest, and stomach, etc.

Other types of Miliaria

In a similar mild condition called miliaria crystalina, instead of small rashes, there are tiny blisters that look like beads of perspiration. In miliaria profunda, a severe form of miliaria caused by a complication due to repeated outbreaks of miliaria rubra, the sweat ducts are completely blocked. This inability to sweat may cause the patient to be prone to heat exhaustion.


Prickly heat can be prevented by avoiding activities that induce sweating, using air conditioning to cool the environment, wearing light clothing and in general, avoiding hot and humid weather. If that is not possible, and especially if air conditioning is either unavailable or unaffordable, then taking multiple showers throughout the day (and night as well if needed) to unplug and clean the sweat glands is the best defence against it.


Although there is currently little in the way of specific medical treatment, in most cases the rashes disappear by themselves within several weeks. Staying in the air conditioning during heat to avoid sweating will speed-up the healing process and help lessen symptoms. Anti-itch lotion, such as calamine and topical steroid creams (avoid oil based products which slow defoliation) can be used to control the itching symptoms. Oral antibacterial and topical antiseptics such as Stridex which contains salicylic acid can be used to prevent the bacterial blooms which cause stoppage of sweat glands which causes the inflamation. In some cases, vitamin A and C supplements can help shorten the duration and severity of the symptoms. In some countries, there are specialized powders available to treat prickly heat (sometimes called prickly heat powders), which can be applied to the affected skin for relief. Healing takes time even when bacteria are reduced as new sweat gland cells need time to regrow as the damaged cells defoliate.

However, instead of medicating, it is usually best to simply keep the skin clean by taking multiple showers to keep affected areas clean and sweat free. Mild antibacterial soaps such as Dial and Lever2000 may be helpful as well to slow spread and prevent future outbreaks. In most cases, these simple steps alone will make the rashes disappear naturally in a few days. If they persist for more than a week, it may be advisable to consult a doctor in case a more serious infection is occurring.

External links

  • eMedicine - Miliaria
  • DermNet - Miliaria
  • Health In Plain English - Miliaria or Prickly Heat
  • Merck Manual - Prickly Heatwith pictures
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/Miliaria"

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miliaria Wikipedia article Miliaria.

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