Account & More
Jennifer L.W. Fink
Registered Nurse

Heat Rash In Babies

We’ve got the scoop on how to tell whether baby’s got a heat rash—and how to prevent it, even on hot summer days.

What is heat rash like for baby?

Heat rash happens when the skin’s sweat glands are blocked. Because the glands can’t release sweat normally, little red bumps—heat rash—appear on the surface of the skin. Heat rash frequently occurs on babies’ necks and backs. It’s not at all harmful and rarely bothers baby.

What are the symptoms of heat rash in babies?

Look for small, raised, red bumps, kind of like pimples.

Are there any tests for heat rash in babies?

Nope. No tests are necessary. Heat rash is diagnosed simply by appearance and by telling your doctor what baby has been up to. If baby develops red, raised bumps and it’s been hot out, or he or she has been in a hot environment it's probably heat rash.

How common is heat rash for babies?

Very common, especially in the summer months.

How did baby get heat rash?

“Babies tend to get chubby and have a lot of fat folds,” says Katherine O’Connor, MD, a pediatric hospitalist at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City. Sweat can accumulate in those areas and block the sweat glands, causing heat rash.

To make matters worse, new parents also tend to overdress babies because they worry about them getting cold. But overdressing baby can actually lead to overheating and heat rash. A good rule of thumb: Dress baby as you’d dress yourself for the weather. And stick to cotton clothing in hot weather, because cotton wicks moisture away from the skin.

What’s the best way to treat heat rash in babies?

Remove some of baby's clothing and let his or her skin breathe. Keeping the area clean, cool and dry will help clear up the heat rash.

Don’t apply any lotions or ointments to the rash. They might help in treating other rashes, but with heat rash, they only further block the sweat glands and may actually make the heat rash worse.

What can I do to prevent baby from getting heat rash?

“Keep your baby’s neck and back dry and free of sweat,” O’Connor says. “You can even apply some cornstarch powder to those areas; it tends to help keep things a little dryer and helps reduce heat rash quite a bit.”

What do other moms do when their babies have heat rash?

“We usually just wipe the area clean with a wet cloth and put some diaper cream on it. It goes away the next day. It also helps to air it out every time you do a diaper change. We use a blow-dryer on the cool setting to air it out for about 30 seconds.”
“My son gets heat rash on the back of his head and neck. When I notice it acting up, I just put a cold, wet washcloth on the area for a few minutes, and that seems to clear it up pretty quickly. He primarily gets it when he wakes up from his nap—he takes after me and sweats in his sleep.”
“My son had it really badly at one point. The pediatrician's instructions were to give him oatmeal baths, not use soap, dress baby in just diapers as much as possible (even at night), run a humidifier in the room to moisten the air and use Eucerin Calming Creme Daily Moisturizer. Worked wonders.”

Related Video