How to treat a severe case of heat rash.

After being in Belize for only three weeks I have already developed a severe case of the heat rash. Sun, surf and warm, humid air doesn’t go so well with fair complexion and sensitive skin. We are house sitting a small Eco-friendly resort in the Southern part of Belize, to be exact, we are located just off Monkey River Village in the Toledo district. As of today, we have been in the country for exactly 21 days, and for the past nine days my skin has been covered with tiny red bumps. It’s a severe heat rash.

The heat rash, also called a sweat rash, started out on my forearms!

I have had these little bumps on my arms before, like I mentioned earlier, I have sensitive skin. Even a hot, humid early summer day in Minnesota can make me break out, but it has never spread past my inner wrists for some reason and it never lasted for more than a day.

The severe heat rash covers about 85% of my body, from my face all the way down to my ankles and the top of my feet. 

how to treat Heat Rash on arms

It started with a Heat Rash on my arms

Severe Heat Rash on Face and Neck

Severe Heat Rash on Face and Neck

The severe heat rash on my face looked and felt the worst! Yuck!!!

I needed to find a remedy fast.

On the third morning after the rash on my arms started, my face felt puffy, itchy and my skin was burning all at the same time. When I looked in the mirror I hardly recognized myself. I looked and felt horrible! The heat rash was all over my face and neck.

The little bumps developed on my stomach, my butt and all over my legs. I could feel them whenever I touched my skin and it felt weird. I really wasn’t itching all that much, only from time to time one spot or another would start to itch. I tried very hard not to give in. By this time I have already looked at numerous websites like the Mayo Clinic, WebMD and asked several people to make sure it wasn’t an allergic reaction or what they call a divers rash. We did just spend several days on a sailboat and went snorkeling.

Here is the official description of a Heat Rash (courtesy of
“Heat rash — also known as prickly heat and miliaria — isn’t just for babies. Though it’s common in infants, heat rash can affect adults, too, especially during hot, humid weather.  Heat rash develops when your sweat ducts — commonly referred to as pores — become blocked and perspiration is trapped under your skin. Symptoms range from superficial blisters to deep, red lumps. Some forms of heat rash can be intensely itchy or cause a prickly feeling.”

How To Treat Heat Rash

I used Cortizone on my face twice a day, gently rubbing in a small amount, about the size of a pea, and after two days I started seeing improvements. I also rubbed some of the Cortizone cream on my forearms, I didn’t have a large enough tube to use it all over my body though. I took several cold showers over the next few days, stayed out of the sun as much as possible and wore only very loose fitting clothes.

Jeeves on the Beach in Belize

The discomfort lasted longer than I had anticipated and on top of the misery that it inflected I was irritable. If you’ve ever had the feeling that you wanted to get out of your own skin than you will know how this feels. Lucky for me, the couple that owns the property about 1/4 mile down the beach from us are both former doctors. I finally broke down and asked their opinion and they both verified the heat rash and gave me a small bottle of over the counter antihistamine (allergy relief pills).

After taking only three pills a day for three days, I am very happy to report that the heat rash bumps are slowly receding and I’m starting to feel like myself again.

My remedy for severe heat rash:

  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible
  • Wear a wide brimmed sun hat
  • Wear loose fitting clothing made of natural fibers
  • Take cold showers to soothe your skin
  • Apply Cortizone cream sparingly
  • Take antihistamine pills as needed
  • Don’t scratch your skin

Be sure to keep these heat rash travel tips in mind when visiting a hot and humid environment like Belize. You don’t want to ruin your fun in the sun vacation.

Have you had a severe heat rash before? Let me know what worked for you in the comments below.


17 thoughts on “A Severe Case Of Heat Rash”
    1. I take meds that has made My skin sensitivity to the Sun. As soon as the sun touches My skin a rash appeared. I’ve tried so many different creams and lotions. Sun block , as I’m trying I’m itching right now.

  1. Hello! Thank you for posting this on your blog. I came across it and felt relieved that I wasn\’t the only one out there.

    On labor day this year, I hung out by a friend\’s pool (in Arizona, it was probably still over a 100 degrees). I was wearing sunscreen and a hat, but later that evening I noticed what looked an felt like \”goose bumps\” all over my face and neck. It itched and had a prickly, burning feeling. Moisturizing was the only thing that soothed it. I was afraid to put hydrocortizone cream on it because I have suffered perioral dermatitis before and hydrocortizone can make that flare up. Your right, I have had heart rash before that looked and felt similar but not this bad, so it can return with vengeance. I saw a dermo who told me use cold compresses and wait it out.

    Now, a little over a month later, the itching and burning have subsided but the goose bump look and feel is still there. The texture of my skin is awful. How long did it take for your skin to look and feel normal again?

    1. Hi Laura, It took a good month or two for my skin to return back to normal. It was a few years ago so I don’t remember exactly, but it was a while and I was getting pretty frustrated with it myself. If you don’t see any improvements in the next week you might want to return for a visit to your dermatologist. There might be an underlying issue. Good luck! I hope your skin returns to normal real soon.

  2. I am suffering from heat rash as in now. And its been 3 days. We went to Vegas last monday, today is friday, tried to sun tan the first couple of days then started to feel that my face is becoming rough itchy and burning. I thought it\’s just something i use for my face. Then getting worse. My husband noticed that my face is becoming swollen and rough the next time i know i got rashes on my neck going down to my shoulders and arms. Its terrible! I feel that i am sick fever and uncomfortable. Trying to find something that could help ease my pain. Mom in law told me to put \”sha-lem\” as often as possible. We arrived home thursday night. So right after takjng a shower i immediately put moisturizer on my face coz its very dry and sha-lem on my neck and shoulder. I think its getting better. I will try the cortizone cream tomorrow or maybe tonight before j go to sleep. Its kinda cool. I use cortizone cream when i have cold sore and in 2.5 days its dry. Thanks. Very happy to see this post. I thought i am super sick with a different condition. If it gets worse, well its tine to see the doctor.

    1. Hi Karen, Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry, I know how miserable it feels, by now you should be better. If not, please do see a doctor to make sure it isn’t something else. Also, once you had a heat rash you will be more prone to get it again in the future. Try to stay out of direct sun exposure and wear a sun hat or carry an umbrella with you when you’re out for a stroll.

      Be kind to your face and use natural products like Witch Hazel to clean your face. Avoid wearing make up and products that clog your pores as much as possible. Wishing you the best!

  3. Hello!
    I developed this sun rash/allergy as an early teen. It is absolutely miserable! It didn’t matter how much sunscreen or what spf I used. I tried every remedy and read every journal article around. After trying just about everything, I found a combination that finally works!! Since I typically only get my reaction when I am in intense Sun, like the beach, I start taking the medications about a week or 2 prior to vacation. I have no idea if that makes a difference but I’m not going to stop to find out, haha.
    I use a sunscreen with uva and uvb blocker.
    Every morning I take 10mg Zyrtec (ceterizine), 150mg Zantac (ranitidine), and an over the counter beta carotene supplement. The zyrtec and zantac are both histamine blockers. I have tried benadryl and claritin without relief. I read a journal article somewhere along the way that mentioned zyrtec showed more of a response. I also read an article that spoke about people in the UK being treated with beta carotene, so I figured that couldn’t hurt. I’ve been doing this for about 8 years and have done great. I will say that it doesn’t stop the rash completely for me, I still will get a few patches after multiple days of exposure to the sun (usually the the 5th or 6th day sometimes before). But it is MUCH more tolerable and doesn’t itch!
    Hopefully this helps someone. This stuff is absolutely miserable!

    1. Hi Amy, Thank you for your comment and for sharing your heat rash story as well as your tips with us. I’m glad you were able to find a solution that’s able to give you some relief. I’ve been lucky so far, my heat rash has only come back in very small areas on my forearm.

      Best wishes to you,

  4. Hello! I am so thankful to have found your site. I have been suffering from heat rash/ prickly heat on my face and neck for about four years. I used to live in the South and nothing… Ever since moving to Minnesota, when Spring starts to rear it’s head and we have our first beautiful, warm day my face and neck break out in a horrible rash. The only thing that seems to help is SPF 50, which I always wear now, but on this first nice day, my face is almost complete rash. I wanted to ask what over the counter antihistamine pills you recommend? Just Claritin? I would love to know what worked for you! Thank you-

    1. Oh jeez Jennifer, I’m sorry to hear about your rash. How strange that it only started after moving North. Usually it’s not very humid in the Spring in MN so maybe it is a different pollen or something else that’s causing the rash? Anyway, I took over the counter Benedryl for two or three days (can’t remember exactly for how long but it wasn’t very long, I don’t like taking pills) and then the cream. We now live in Hawaii and so far I haven’t had another break out. Please let me know how things turn out for you. Good luck and best wishes, Silke

  5. I have sun sensitivity, so I get heat rash/sunburn quite easily. 2 months ago, I went to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, and my mom suggested I wear a hoodie to protect my skin from the hot California sun. BAD IDEA!!! I suffered severe heat rash. It was mainly on my arms. Immediately after returning to my cousin’s house (where I stayed), I showered, put some ice on my arms, and applied cortisone cream daily several times for the next week or two. It healed, but it left a few faint scars on my wrists. Is there any way of getting rid of old scars from heat rash??? Or at least fade them????

    Lesson learned: NEVER EVER wear a hoodie in hot weather. It protects you from the sun, but not from heat rash.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. A loose fitting, very light weight cotton shirt and a wide brimmed hat are the best choices to protect your skin from sun exposure. Now that you’ve had a severe case of heat rash you will need to be even more careful in the future. For the scars you can purchase over the counter creams to help fade them quicker. They will disappear over time, I have a few small spots that are faded to the point were they’re no longer noticeable.

      1. Ever since that incident, my skin has been EXTREMELY sensitive. My mom has been overprotective of me due to the condition, and in summer 2016, my mom increase my protection up 1000% including covering my face an wearin sunscreen and hats and carrying umbrellas on short trips and car rides (even on cloudy days). It’s me 2017, and mom is still overprotective by 1000%, but I am now gradually increasing sun exposure and building UV resistance on my skin and hopefully eliminate hat and sunscreen use on short walks a car rides and only exclusively use them on vacations only.

        1. Also, the scars have faded to nearly nothing. The creams I used in 2015 had steroids in them and it made my skin thin and more sun sensitive. I need tips on building UV resistance in my face the natural way (eg. No drugs or steroids involved). Thanks!!! :)

          1. Hello again, I’m happy to hear that you’re skin has healed and is getting healthy again. Your mom is right, a good quality non-toxic facial lotion with topical sunscreen is a must, of course. Beside that, you can also increase your skin’s UV resistance by eating healthy. Eating tomatoes, leafy greens, almonds, coconut oil and adding healthy fats to your diet will boost your skin’s natural ability to resist sun damage. Try to stay away from carbohydrates and processed foods as much as possible. I heard Pomegranate juice is very good for improving your skin’s natural UV resistance as well, plus it tastes good. Check out this link for more tips:

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