Heat rash stinks - and it’s even worse when it affects your crotch. If you have hyperhidrosis on top of that, it can feel downright terrible. Luckily, there are heat rash treatments you can use to get you back on your feet. Here’s everything you need to know about what heat rash and how to treat it.

Heat rash is no fun, and unfortunately for people with a condition called primary focal hyperhidrosis, it is a common occurrence. Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that causes those who have it to sweat excessively from specific parts of the body. The most commonly affected body parts are the hands, feet, armpits, face, and sometimes, the groin.

It is currently estimated that 2.8% of the population struggles with hyperhidrosis, making hyperhidrosis a fairly common ailment. According to a retrospective chart review published in the journal of Dermatologic Clinics only 1.3% of the patients reviewed dealt with excessive sweating of the groin. This means that even though many people deal with hyperhidrosis, not as many have to struggle with the type that affects the skin of the groin.[1] For those that do, sweat rash - known more commonly as heat rash - can be an uncomfortable reality.[2]

What is Heat Rash?

Heat rash is a common type of rash that causes tiny bumps surrounded by red coloring to appear on the affected skin. The skin often feels prickly or stings. Heat rash, like the name implies, is caused by overheating of the skin. It occurs when someone sweats too much, often in response to high temperatures, and sweat ducts become clogged. When this happens the excess sweat leaks into the surrounding tissues and causes the characteristic bumps and stinging.[3]

Due to the fact that people with hyperhidrosis consistently sweat too much, they can easily develop heat rash, especially when exposed to high heat conditions[2]. Heat rash occurs most frequently on parts of the body covered by clothing, like the groin, during hot humid conditions. It tends to improve when the skin cools down and it is not dangerous.[3] Heat rash is also referred to as sweat rash, prickly rash, miliaria rubra, or wildfire rash.[4] Heat rash treatments exist, so don’t worry, there are ways to improve symptoms and prevent it from happening as frequently.

Symptoms of Heat Rash

Are you unsure whether your irritated groin skin is caused by heat rash? Here is a list of symptoms that may indicate that heat rash is indeed your problem:

  • Small itchy red bumps appear on the skin
  • Skin feels itchy, prickly, stings, or burns
  • The rash can appear on several parts of the body at one time[3]
  • There are also some symptoms that can tell you whether your heat rash needs to be inspected by a doctor. If your symptoms don’t resolve on their own in a few days, the skin appears to be infected, you have any other signs of illness like fever, or the rash starts after beginning a new medication then you need to speak with a doctor.[3] Keep reading to learn about heat rash treatment and what you can do to prevent rashes in the future.

    Heat Rash Treatment

    Most of the time, heat rash will resolve on its own without any treatment. It is important to keep skin with heat rash cool and to stay in air conditioned areas. Taking a cool shower or bath and letting skin air dry can also be beneficial. Left untreated, most heat rashes will resolve within a few days.[3]

    However, sometimes heat rash treatment can be beneficial. If you prefer to treat your heat rash here are some ideas:

  • Practical Tips:Keep your skin cool. Stay in an air conditioned environment and wear loose clothes. Don’t apply oily products to your skin that can clog sweat glands. Take cold showers frequently and avoid activities that increase sweating.
  • Topical antibacterial products:Using antibacterial soaps on the affected skin can lessen the duration of symptoms and prevent infections from developing.
  • Anti-itch Products:Products that help with itching can be helpful. These products include calamine lotion, menthol products, camphor based preparations, or topical steroids. It is important to use products with oils very sparingly as they can further clog sweat glands and make the problem worse.
  • Powder talc admixture:This is a type of powder that contains drying milk protein, labilin, and triclosan, an antibacterial product that can help prevent infection. The powder can provide some protection from chafing and infection.[4] Even though products like baby powder can help with sweating, it is important to research before using products that contain talc on your groin as it has been linked to cases of ovarian cancer in some women.[5]
  • Don’t hesitate to use the above heat rash treatments if you are uncomfortable. However, if you have a severe case of heat rash it can last for weeks and be debilitating. It can also lead to more serious secondary infections if it does not heal properly. If the rash develops more serious symptoms then a doctor should be consulted and more serious medical heat rash treatments may need to be used.[4]

    There are ways to prevent sweat production in the groin area, even when someone has a condition like hyperhidrosis. If you are struggling with frequent heat rashes then it may be time to check out some of the treatments that are available for hyperhidrosis in order to prevent further rashes from developing.

    1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Amsterdam: Elsevier Pub. Co., 2014. Retrieved from https://www.elsevier.com/books/hyperhidrosis-an-issue-of-dermatologic-clinics/pariser/978-0-323-32607-0
    2. Nordqvist, C. (2017, December 21). What is hyperhidrosis? Retrieved August 8, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182130.php
    3. What is Heat Rash? (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-heat-rash-basics
    4. Kraft, S. (2017, April 26). What is heat rash and how do we treat it? Retrieved July 31, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/181512.php
    5. Talcum Powder and Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2019, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer