Saturday, August 7, 2010

It Might Rhyme With Tickly But It's Not

Is it not enough that it's 90-plus degrees and 90-something-unbelievable percent humidity?

The Sun in the Sky
by rileyroxx
Is it not enough that I have to try to function in this mess without an air conditioner to come home to?

Argh! It's Prickly Heat!

The scourge of my summers since childhood, I ignite a patch of prickly heat every year somewhere along about July and it can't be doused until September. I usually erupt across my abdomen, but lately, as I reach a certain age with all of the horrific body morphing that goes along with that age, it reaches more hidden areas.

I won't show you my current conflagration- that would require the wide angle lens and approval by city council- but this poor child has a doozy of a case. Some extreme cases are rather startling to see.

Prickly heat, or heat rash, is considered a sweating disorder and occurs when the sweat glands are blocked by clothing, body oils, bacteria, or dirt. 
Once the sweat glands build up enough pressure from the backed up sweat trying to escape, they will rupture. This causes the sweat, with all its chemicals, to be trapped below the skin and can lead to inflammation and irritation.

Lava Flow on Island of Hawaii
by seat_32b
Prickly heat looks like a rash of tiny pink or red bumps or maybe little water-filled blisters. It frequently has what is described as a pins and needles sensation, though this has never been accurate for me. It's more of a burned and then scraped across the asphalt kind of feeling. With fire ants.

Prickly heat can run the gamut of severity, from a pinkish uncomfortable rash localized in one area to widespread and miserable. It is usually never anything to worry about though it does need to be taken care of as it can progress. Scratching excessively at the bumps can open them up and leave the sufferer vulnerable to a secondary infection. Don't scratch, right?

Also, because prickly heat is a sweating disorder, any time you have trouble cooling your body there can be much more serious issues lurking in the wings. When my batch of rash first appeared this summer, I had been working on a remodel in the Master Bath for several days. The temperature and humidity were through the roof and even though there was a pretty good breeze, the bathroom windows didn't face the right direction to catch it. I sweat like mad in spite of the fan. On the afternoon of the third day I felt the prickle. A couple hours later, I had a headache and didn't seem to be sweating as much. Uh-oh.

So what do you do once the prickle has erupted? In a word (or two)- cool off!

My first assault on this year's rash involved getting into the pool and staying there for a couple of hours.

by tgrayphoto

It seemed like a good excuse anyway and it does help. The chlorine sort of dries your skin out, even though you're wet. Weird, I know.


Take regular cool showers with a mild soap. I also like to use Stri-Dex Medicated pads but things like calamine lotion, aloe gel (the pure, clear stuff), or an oatmeal bath work well also. Do not use oils or ointments as these can further block your pores. Avoid getting heated up, wear loose clothing in breathable fabrics like cotton or linen, drink plenty of fluids. Do not cover with bandages as your skin needs to be open to cool dry air. Many folks use talc powder, such as baby powder or Gold Bond but cornstarch is a better alternative. It doesn't take much.

prickly heat

I have discovered Snake Brand Prickly Heat Powder. Someone shared this with me when I was in SE Asia a couple years ago. It contains menthol, camphor, talc, and some other miscellaneous ingredients (eye of newt maybe?- it is magical)- love it, love it, love it. None of our local International Markets carry it so I have to order it off the Internet from Thailand. It doesn't take much and there is a definite cooling sensation.

Cool Dog
by wZa HK

Prickly heat should go away in a couple of days or so if you take care of it and stay cool, but as I can testify it sometimes takes longer. This usually happens in deeper tissue cases where the layers of skin just need time to be replaced. Other conditions can look like prickly heat so go ahead and get it checked out if it's your first case, especially in kids. Also, go see you physician if it won't go away or gets worse (spreading, increased discomfort, more widespread swelling, weeping or pus- graphic, sorry- from the bumps).

I wish that I didn't know so much about Prickly Heat but that's the price I pay for being a sweaty blond. If your visit here today has helped you, then I'm glad to share my affliction.

The Lap of Luxury

Thanks for visiting - stay cool.

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