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Keep it cool

As the first sweat trickles down the skin, it tickles. It’s sort of fun. Minutes and some more perspiration later, the body turns all sticky. In the dusty environment of Kathmandu, your skin acts as a magnet to the all the dust the city has to offer. Also dead cells and bacteria cover up the pores and sweat glands in the skin. As a result the sweat is trapped and builds up on the skin, causing inflammation and rash. This is your prickly heat.

Turn on your television set and you’ll come across a number of advertisements that feature ways to fight against prickly heat, the more common ones being body powders with a girl dancing like crazy. What is this prickly heat? What’s all that dancing for?

Prickly heat more medically known as miliaria, is a very itchy red skin rash, causing a prickling or burning feeling. People who often have prickly heat also tend to be susceptible to heat stroke. It usually occurs when you sweat a lot in hot or humid weather. The skin becomes inflamed with a spotty rash and in the most severe forms, salt crystals may form in the sweat-gland ducts, producing small blisters. Itching may encourage scratching, which may lead to skin infection. If you ever get this prickly heat and recovered, you’d dance like crazy too. The rash usually lasts for a few days and then disappears on its own. It may however last longer if the hot and humid conditions continue.

The rash is most commonly where there is friction with clothes and also on the hands, feet, under the arms and the chest. Babies and children are also more likely to be affected than adults because of their underdeveloped sweat glands, in which case the rash is commonly found in the nappy area and in the skin folds or on the neck.

What is the treatment for prickly heat?

  • First of all relieve any discomfort and pain. Stay in a cool place, and soak the rashes with cool water.
  • Do not itch as itching may worsen the problem.  
  • Applying Calamine lotion may cool and soothe the skin.
  • Wear loose cotton clothing, this’ll help the evaporation of sweat and prevent further skin irritation.
  • If possible, avoid excessive heat and humidity.
  • Avoid further sweating. Even if this is possible for just a few hours each day it can make a big difference. For example, staying in an air conditioned room for a few hours a day. A cool bath can also be soothing and help to avoid sweating.
  • In the case of babies, make sure the baby is dressed lightly and avoid dressing him in synthetics and plastics. Parents should avoid wearing woolen clothes as it may irritate the kid while carrying him around.
  • This may sound a bit too far fetched for the Kathmanduities but during summer it is recommended to shower daily to cleanse those pores.

Keep it cool and have a scratch less summer.  



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