SPORTS MEDICINE: Playing hockey in the summer can lead to getting a heat rash

If you are playing summer hockey or indoor hockey the heat can cause some unwanted health conditions. One that is common is a heat rash which occurs especially as a result of running in hot, humid conditions.

Heat rashes occur when the body’s cooling mechanism breaks down. The sweat glands, which help regulate body temperature and prevent us from overheating, tend to get clogged due to sebum and bacteria. As a result, the sweat remains trapped underneath the skin’s surface. Over time, this trapped sweat along with the bacteria, causes blisters on the skin’s surface. These blisters get itchy, painful and irritated. In runners, heavy perspiration leads to runners heat rash which is typically seen around the neck, the folds of skin beneath the breasts, in between crevices of elbows, underneath the armpits and all other areas where sweat glands are present.

What to know about and treat heat rashes

1. Know heat rash symptoms

A heat rash is no fun: it can hurt like hell and even affect performance. If you regularly suffer from heat rashes, then you probably already know its symptoms. For those who do not, here are key symptoms of heat rashes:

  • Hot, dry and irritated skin
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Small prickly heat rashes in the form of pustules and blisters

2. Be proactive in treating heat rashes

If you know you are prone to heat rashes after playing, you can take measures to prevent them. Take a cool shower after you come back from playing. Make sure you wash all the clothes you have worn for playing. Before leaving to play, liberally dust all your sweaty areas with anti-prickly heat powders. You can even use hydrocortisone creams proactively to prevent prickly heat. These are available over the counter.

3. Wear appropriate playing attire

Make sure you wear sweat absorbing clothes made from lightweight breathable materials. These allow better regulation of body heat. You can also use caps or hats to shield from the sun. Wear proper thick socks that absorb perspiration to prevent rashes around the ankles, the toes and feet.Wear cotton underwear that absorbs sweat better to prevent heat rashes in the groin area.

4. Know when to cool down

If you start feeling very hot or find that you are perspiring too heavily, make sure you seek shade and rest a bit.

5. Use gentle soap

A heat rash is extremely painful and the use of harsh cosmetics, soaps and other personal toiletries can aggravate it. So, try to use a mild soap. You can also cool down in a tub bath filled with tepid water to which some colloidal oatmeal has been added. This helps soothe the heat rash.

6. Apply calamine lotion

Calamine is helpful in case of heat rashes as it can soothe inflammation. You can apply some ointments containing menthol to cool down the skin. Avoid thick or greasy ointments as they could further clog up the sweat glands and aggravate the heat rash.

7. Take an antihistamine pill/mixture

The non-drowsy varieties of antihistamines can be very useful in alleviating itching and prickling caused by heat rashes. Our body releases Histamine which is a type of inflammatory mediators that are released once sweat is released in the tissue. This causes all the allergic symptoms of heat rashes like itchiness, swelling and pain on the affected parts of the skin. Taking an antihistamine can help relieve these symptoms. They work better in combination with Hydrocortisone creams. The latter are readily available in the market and you can go in for the 1% strength creams.

8. Avoid talc or cornstarch if you already have a sweat rash

Talcum and cornstarch powders can eliminate friction between body parts as well as rashes caused by skin to skin contact. But they tend to clog up sweat glands and aggravate the rashes further.

9. Drink plenty of water

This remedy to prevent runners’ heat rash might not eliminate your existing rashes but can help keep your body’s natural cooling mechanism working efficiently. Heat rashes are often precursors to other heat related symptoms including heat exhaustion and dehydration. Drinking water and other beverages like fresh fruit juices etc can prevent these. Do avoid alcohol, caffeine etc as these could increase dehydration.

Source: various

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