If you’ve ever been on bed rest, you probably know it’s not all that relaxing. But did you know that bed rest can cause heat rash?
Heat rash is a skin condition caused by blocked pores and sweat glands. When pores are blocked, sweat that would normally pass to the outer layer of skin is trapped beneath the skin. The affected area develops a rash that can range in severity depending on how much sweat is produced, and the degree to which your pores are clogged. Heat rash generally develops in skin folds or where clothes rub against your skin frequently.
There are four tiers of heat rash to describe different levels of intensity. The most mild form of heat rash is called miliaria crystallina and it impacts the topmost layer of skin. Trapped sweat will form clear blisters that break fairly easily.
The next level of heat rash is called miliaria rubra, which is characterized by red bumps that are often extremely itchy and inflamed. This form of heat rash is also referred to as “prickly heat” because the sensation is similar to being pricked by thorns or the spines of a cactus. If it goes untreated or unnoticed, the simple, clear, filled blisters can develop into the third type of heat rash known as miliaria pustulosa. If sweat continues to build up or builds up rapidly beneath the skin, blisters will grow more inflamed and become pus-filled (or pustular).
The final, most acute and disruptive form of heat rash is called miliaria profunda. Miliaria profunda affects a deep layer of skin called the dermis and forms flesh colored bumps on the skin that resemble goosebumps. The pain and discomfort of this type of heat rash is the most extreme, but like other forms of heat rash, it can resolve on its own in a matter of hours. We’ll explore treatment options later that ensure heat rash doesn’t stick around for long.
You might be ordered to go on bed rest for a number of reasons. Certain at-risk pregnant women will be put on bed rest. Others, recovering from back injuries or chronic illnesses might also be put on bed rest. Even if it’s not recommended by a doctor, bed rest while suffering from illnesses like the flu can result in heat rash.
Heat rash will develop in places where the skin is sweaty and irritated either by clothing or the bed and bedsheets. Staying in bed without changing position for extended periods of time can result in heat rash. Obviously, summer months or excessively warm rooms will contribute to heat rash in bed rest patients. If you are experiencing a fever, you’re even more likely to develop the condition. Maintain a cool, ventilated room for yourself while under bed rest. Wear loose-fitting clothes and, if possible, change positions regularly to prevent certain areas from sweating for too long.
Even if your heat rash seems mild, seeing a dermatologist is recommended. If you’re on bed rest, consult a physician and take the previously mentioned precautions for keeping a comfortable room. If heat rash is mild, it can go away on its own. In bed rest scenarios, heat rash will most likely reappear if nothing changes. A dermatologist can prescribe a topical corticosteroid cream that can help clear up your heat rash. If your heat rash develops pustules or a skin infection, a topical antibiotic ointment can treat these issues.
Thankfully, heat rash is not something that has to last long. The discomfort it causes should only be temporary and doctors are well-equipped to treat it quickly and effectively.
So, if you’re stuck in bed and are worried about heat rash, keep cool and dry! If heat rash is already affecting you, consult your New England dermatologist about treatment today.