As I mentioned in my previous post reviewing Eucerin sun care (linked here), I am a long time prickly heat sufferer. I honestly don’t think it’s something I’ll ever be able to avoid completely, but over time I have picked up tips that either keep it at bay for longer, or make it more bearable when it does decide to make an appearance. I’m sharing my ‘top tips’ with you today! But first I should remind you I don’t claim to be an expert on any subject (as mentioned in by ‘about me‘ page). This means the information I’m sharing is simply coming from experience (although most of the time I’ve tried the tip out after reading up about it). I guess what I’m trying to say is, I don’t know if all of these the tips are backed up by medical evidence, but I do know they work for me!
Having said that, I’ll start with some science. In order to understand how to combat prickly heat, I’d say it’s a good idea to find out what it actually is. For this I’ve turned to trusted medical site NHS Choices. Here’s what they have to say…
“Prickly heat, also known as miliaria rubra, is an itchy rash of small, raised red spots that causes a stinging or prickling sensation on the skin.
Prickly heat usually develops when a person sweats more than usual, such as during hot or humid weather.
The condition is caused when the body’s sweat glands become blocked. Excessive sweating can result in sweat becoming trapped beneath your skin. The trapped sweat causes skin irritation and the characteristic heat rash.”
Bearing this in mind the best way to prevent prickly heat? Avoid heat, humidity and sweating of course! However if you live in a warmer climate or enjoy your holidays on sunny shores that’s not always possible. Which brings me on to my ‘top tips’.
1. Take an antihistamine
You should of course talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medication but taking an antihistamine daily for 2-3 weeks before travelling to a warmer climate (and the duration of my trip) makes a difference for me. I don’t find it prevents prickly heat completely, but when it does appear it’s far less itchy and uncomfortable.
2. Pay careful attention to your sun protection products
This has been more of a recent realisation for me, but one that has made the biggest difference. As prickly heat is in part caused by the sweat glands becoming blocked, I found using a sun protection product with fewer ‘pore clogging’ ingredients made a huge difference on my most recent holiday. Namely these ingredients were Paraffin, Petrolatum and mineral oil. If, like me, you are sensitive skinned no matter the climate you might also find products low in or free from alcohol and perfume can help. I used Eucerin but as I only recently discovered this tip, I have no other recommendations I’m afraid! However, I found the post ‘Sense and Sensitivity’ from the blog ‘Get The Gloss’ an interesting read (linked here). Don’t forget to apply the same principles to your after sun!
3. Spend 2 hours per day in a cool area
One of the things I hate most about getting prickly heat is missing out! While my fellow holiday makers might be frolicking on the beach all day, sightseeing for hours on end or laying by the pool from sunrise to sunset, I’m more likely to be the one hiding in the shade or going back to the hotel early as I just can’t be in the heat any more. However, I’ve found that spending a couple of hours in the middle of the day in a cool environment really keeps the prickly heat under some sort of control. A long lazy lunch in an air conditioned restaurant is my favourite way to do this. Or make like the Spanish and have a siesta in your room; have a cold shower, whack the air con up high, set an alarm and get into bed. You’ll then be refreshed for more afternoon fun and will have hopefully given your prickly heat a chance to recover.
4. Rinse off that chlorine
Chances are if you are prone to prickly heat, you also have generally sensitive skin. Well it’s logical to me anyway! And you know those showers you find next to every swimming pool? They are there for a reason! Jumping in the pool regularly is a great way to cool off but surely leaving the chemicals (and whatever else may lurk in the pool!) on your skin is asking for trouble? I now hop under the shower and give myself a good rinse after every dip in the pool and immediately feel the comforting effect on my skin.
5. Consider your clothing
When I’m shopping, sightseeing or even exercising in the heat I obviously want to prevent sunburn. So as well as slapping on the sun cream I tend to cover up with more clothing compared to beach or poolside relaxation. But when I thought about it, if prickly heat is triggered by blocked glands, and I then cover those glands with a layer of clothing I’m bound to make matters worse. My fears where confirmed when I did some Googling but the NHS choices website recommends loose cotton based clothing, as natural fabrics are less prone to trapping heat. Dilemma solved then!
If you have any tried and tested tips I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments…