It isn't only those of us who get burnt in the sun who struggle with the heat in summer.
Whether you're on holiday or enjoying the occasional sunny day at home, our skin can suffer to UV exposure in more ways than simply burning. Prickly heat and heat rash, caused by exposure to the sun and overheating, are other common consequences of too much time spent in the sun. Most commonly affecting those with fair, sensitive skin types, prickly heat and heat rash can be uncomfortable and irritating, particularly in the summer heat.
What is prickly heat?
Heat rash and prickly heat can appear as a red rash or as small red bumps on the surface of your skin. Usually very sore and itchy, they can cause further irritation to your skin, causing you to scratch and damage the healing surface of your skin which begins a viscious cycle.
Known to some as Miliaria, heat rash and prickly heat occurs when the sweat ducts are obstructed or blocked. As sweat leaks into the skin, small bumps or rashes form as the skin gets inflamed around the leak. The small bumps, known as Papules, become red, sore and often very itchy.
Although some of us are more prone to prickly heat than others, we are all susceptible to being affected by heat rash. Even if you have never been negatively affected by the sun before, not protecting or caring for your skin appropriately when exposed to UV rays can leave you vulnerable to prickly heat.
In some cases, bacteria can form on the skin and cause even more irritation particularly in the folds of your skin such as behind your knees or in the crook of your arm. When prickly heat occurs in these areas, it can be extremely uncomfortable and irritating as the skin is constantly hot and producing sweat.
How to prevent prickly heat
As sweating, which causes prickly heat and heat rash, is your body's natural reaction to heat, it is very difficult to avoid both completely. Aside from keeping out of the sun and wearing cool, loose and breathable clothing, there is little you can do to minimise your chances of prickly heat.
As keeping cool is one of the only ways you can avoid reaction to the sun, using a cooling, mineral spray on your skin whilst you're on holiday can help to keep you skin fresh and hydrated throughout the day.
Both the Vichy Mineralizing Water and the Avène Thermal Water work to cool and soothe the skin, using Thermal Spring Water to calm any irritation and bring relief to hot, irritated skin. By spritzing a mist over your body particularly on problem areas such as behind your knees when warm, you will help to minimise the appearance of bumps and rashes.
It is also important to opt for sun creams that are developed especially for sensitive skin. You can discover our edit of the best sunscreens for sensitive skin here.
How to soothe and care for heat rash
Once heat rash has formed, you need to take extra special care of your irritated skin and use products which will not aggravate but only soothe. Choosing the right body wash and lotions is essential to helping your skin to heal properly and to take away any itching and irritation which may occur.
If you have prickly heat, avoid harsh chemicals and fragrances when cleansing your skin. Choosing a body wash which has been developed esepcially for sensitive, irritated skin is so important.
The Aveeno Skin Relief Body Lotion with Shea Butter utilises finely-milled Colloidal Oatmeal to eliminate impurities and cleanse the skin without disrupting your skin's natural moisture barrier. The rich formula soothes dry and chapped skin, leaving you feeling refreshed without irritating your skin or causing further redness to skin which may already be inflamed.
If you prefer a traditional soap or cleansing bar, the Avène Cold Cream Ultra Rich Cleansing Bar is the perfect option to sensitive, irritated skin. Enriched with Avène Thermal Spring Water, the soap soothes irritated skin whilst White Beeswax hydrates and smoothes irritated, dry skin on your body.
Using such hydrating, soothing products will allow your skin to repair itself naturally without being irritated by harsh chemicals and fragrances. Using a sensitive routine should see any signs of prickly heat and heat rash disappear in a couple of days.