Heat rash vs eczema: photos, causes, treatment
Rash is a skin condition that often develops in hot, humid environments. While it can be boring, it usually doesn’t last too long.
Eczema, on the other hand, is a long-term, chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment and symptom management.
Although the two conditions may have similarities in their appearance, they are not the same.
Read on to learn more about how to tell the difference between these two skin conditions, how to treat them, and when to see a doctor.
You can blame your sweat glands and perhaps your summer wardrobe for the rashes, which usually occur in hot, humid conditions.
To cool your body when you are hot, sweat is produced by the glands located in the deepest layers of your skin. But if your skin pores get clogged, sweat cannot be released to the surface of your skin. In some cases, clothing that does not allow your skin to breathe can also play a role in trapping sweat.
When sweat gets trapped by clogged pores or clothing, a rash can develop. The good news is that heat rashes are usually not serious and usually don’t last too long.
There are three types of heat rash:
Unlike rashes that usually go away quite quickly, eczema is a long-term, chronic disease that requires ongoing treatment and management.
It tends to develop during infancy or childhood and is very common in children. In fact, it affects between
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, can persist and persist into adulthood for more than 16 million adults. If you first developed eczema as a child, you may have already learned to recognize the characteristics of an eczema flare.
But it might be more difficult for an adult who develops what dermatologists call adult atopic dermatitis. It can also be more difficult for a parent who is unsure whether their child has eczema or just a rash.
There are actually many types of eczema. In fact, experts tend to group them into seven specific types.
The most common is atopic dermatitis. It affects more than 26 million people in the United States. Atopic dermatitis tends to develop in the first 6 months of life, but it can also develop later.
Atopic dermatitis is characterized by dry, itchy skin. The color of the rash tends to be:
- reddish in people with lighter skin
- brown or gray in people with darker skin
Sometimes your skin will become thicker in the areas where the rash appears. It has a genetic component, but your immune system and environmental triggers may also play a role.
According to the National Eczema Association, the other six types of eczema include:
- Contact dermatitis. With contact dermatitis, a rash develops in the area where your skin comes in contact with a substance that irritates it, such as a product that contains chemicals or dyes that you are allergic to.
- Dyshydrosiform eczema. People who develop dyshidrotic eczema tend to have itchy blisters on the soles of their feet and the palms of their hands.
- Neurodermatitis. Also known as lichen simplex chronicus, this type of eczema begins with one or two patches of skin that itch and itch more and more. Repeated scratching can make the skin thicker (but usually still itchy).
- Seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis tends to develop in areas rich in sebaceous glands, such as the scalp, nose, and upper back. It usually appears as red, scaly patches. In babies, fatty, scaly patches commonly known as cradle cap are a form of this type of eczema.
- Stasis dermatitis. Poor circulation in the lower legs is usually the cause of stasis dermatitis. It can start with small patches of discoloration and swelling in the ankle and progress to larger areas of swelling, accompanied by redness or peeling.
- Nummular eczema. This type of eczema is characterized by round, oozing patches on the skin. It can easily become infected, so treatment is usually necessary.
It is important to note that different types of eczema can overlap. In other words, you can have more than one at a time. And they may require different treatment or management strategies.
Because heat rash and eczema can look the same, it’s not always easy to tell them apart. If you cannot tell by looking at the rash, it is important to consider the following factors.
Once you know what type of skin problem you are dealing with, you can take steps to treat it appropriately.
How to treat heat rash
The good news is that heat rash usually goes away on its own. You may be able to speed up the process by stopping any activity you are engaged in and cooling yourself down.
Remove any heavy or sweaty clothing that might trap sweat in your skin. Take a cool shower to help lower your body temperature. It can also help remove dirt and oils from the surface of your skin that can clog your pores.
For a case of more intense prickly heat, you can apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream at a low dose.
How to treat eczema
Treatment for eczema can vary depending on the type of eczema you have and how severe it is.
For a typical case of atopic dermatitis, your doctor may suggest that you apply moisturizer to the affected areas of the skin several times a day. You may also benefit from applying a topical corticosteroid or taking an antihistamine if they feel very itchy.
In most rash cases, once you start to calm down, the rash will likely start to get better. But if it doesn’t, you may want to contact your healthcare professional, especially if the rash is accompanied by other symptoms such as:
With eczema, tell your doctor or health care professional if you think you are developing an infection. If you scratch an itchy spot and it starts to bleed, the open sore may become infected. If you notice pus seeping from a lesion, be sure to get it checked out by a doctor.
If your eczema develops in adulthood, consider making an appointment with a healthcare professional to have it checked. They will carefully examine the rash and may perform tests to rule out other possible causes.
If you are a new parent, it helps to know that newborns often develop different types of rashes. Seborrheic dermatitis is very common in babies, and rashes can be too. Most types of rashes can be easily treated at home. But if you’re worried and don’t know what to do, contact your child’s doctor for advice.
Although rashes and eczema are not always preventable, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of these rashes.
How to prevent heat rash
The best way to prevent rashes is to avoid sweating. This can be easier said than done, especially if you live in a hot and humid climate. After all, sweating is your body’s natural way of keeping you cool in hot weather.
But there are ways to reduce sweating and lower the chances of developing a rash.
- Wear loose, light clothing and avoid clothing that is too tight or rubs against your skin.
- Remove sweaty clothes that are close to your skin.
- Limit the use of strong ointments or moisturizers that can clog your pores.
- Try to spend most of your time in the shade or in an air-conditioned space on a hot day.
- Take regular baths or cool showers.
How to prevent eczema
Although you can’t prevent eczema, you can reduce the likelihood that you (or your child) will have a flare-up or an exacerbation of eczema.
First, try to figure out what your specific triggers are, and then do your best to avoid them. Other things you can do to try and prevent an eczema flare include the following:
- Avoid strongly scented soaps and detergents, which can irritate your skin.
- Try to keep your home free from allergens like dust, pollen, mold, and pet dander.
- Try to control your stress level.
- Opt for lukewarm rather than hot baths or showers.
- Do not rub your skin in the tub or shower.
- Find a place in the shade to keep cool on a hot day.
- Wear sunscreen and protective clothing outside.
With babies, children, and even adults, it can be difficult to determine if you have a rash or eczema.
If you are unsure, a good rule of thumb is to take yourself or your child out of the heat into a cooler environment and watch the skin for reaction. If the rash starts to get better within a day or two, it’s more likely a rash.
If the rash persists or you notice other symptoms, contact your health care provider for the correct diagnosis and treatment.