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How to tell heat rash from allergy

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th November 2012 05:44 PM

Locally referred to as enoga, heat rash, in some Ugandan societies, is associated with eating a lot of salt during pregnancy.

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Locally referred to as enoga, heat rash, in some Ugandan societies, is associated with eating a lot of salt during pregnancy.

By Agnes Kyotalengerire
 
Locally referred to as enoga, heat rash, in some Ugandan societies, is associated with eating a lot of salt during pregnancy.
 
But according to medical experts, heat rash is a skin condition usually found on body areas covered by clothing. The condition is common during the hot weather.  
 
Cause
 
Dr. Jolly Nankunda, a consultant paediatrician, says heat rash is common in newborns because their mothers/caretakers keep the babies covered all the time to keep them warm. In a bid to keep them warm all the time, their caretakers dress them in many layers of clothes.
 
Keeping babies, especially those about six months old, in poorly ventilated houses may also trigger heat rash, Nankunda adds. 
 
According to Charles Simuya, a skin specialist at the Mulago Skin and STI Clinic, unlike a nappy rash that covers the buttocks and groin, heat rash usually covers the face, neck and trunk. It may also gradually spread to other parts. 
 
A baby’s skin is delicate, with a sweating mechanism that is not as fully developed as an adult’s. “Babies cannot dispel heat through sweat. Instead, the sweat is trapped in the skin,” explains Nankunda.
 
Simuya adds that when the sweat remains on the skin for a long time, the salty substances in the sweat triggers a reaction, causing a rash. 
 
How to tell it is heat rash
 
Nankunda says heat rash is characterised by reddish spots or tiny pimples, which are not itchy. The fact that it does not itch differentiates it from a rash caused by an infection. 
 
Diagnosis

Heat rash can be identified by physically examining the body. 
 
Though it usually takes about three to four days to clear, Nankunda says it could be a pointer that the baby is being overdressed.
 
She cautions that if the rash persists, it can predispose the baby to infections since it is easier for the germs to gain entrance into the skin. 
 
When to worry

The experts advise that if your child develops signs of infection, for example, pain, fever, swelling, redness, or warmth around the affected area, seek medical help. 
 
In case of pockets of pus forming in the affected area, or the lymph nodes in the neck and armpits swelling, consult a doctor right away. 
 
Precaution
 
Heat rash usually clears on its own. However, to prevent future occurrences, Nankunda recommends dressing the child in light cotton clothes. 
 
“Keep the baby dressed in relatively warm clothes, or remove or loosen the baby’s clothing when the weather is hot and keep the child in a cool room,” she advises.  
 
However, she says care should be taken not to dress the babies in very thin clothing because their bodies cannot regulate their temperature. 
 
Simuya advises keeping the baby’s skin dry and keeping the rooms they sleep in cool. He discourages applying powder because it further blocks the pores and irritates the skin. Ointments and lotions also irritate the skin. 
 

 

How to tell heat rash from allergy

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