Miliaria : Symptoms and Treatments

Miliaria is known as prickly heat or sweat rash in common language. This is skin disease which has characteristic tiny and itchy rashes. People living in hot and humid conditions like tropical climate and during summer season, suffer from this skin disorder very often.Miliaria can affect any body but children and infants suffer the most from this disorder because their sweat glands are not so developed.

How does Miliaria occur?

Miliaria or prickly heat rashes occur due to plugging of sweat glands ducts by dead skin cells. Bacteria like Staphylococcus epidermidis also block the sweat glands duct. This is the same bacterium which causes acne and is always present on the skin.

These are usually localized rashes and itching, prickling and irritation is caused by trapping of sweat in the ducts. It causes small blistering rashes.

What are the Symptoms and Appearance of rashes?

Miliaria can be identified by its characteristic symptoms.

Miliaria has small red rashes which are called papules. These papules have lot of itching and it gives “pin and needle” prickling sensation. Skin of many parts of body gets affected by these rashes. Most common parts of body which are affected by miliaria rashes are face, neck, back and under the breast. Rashes can occur at skin folds, areas that rub against the clothing.

Some people confuse symptoms of miliaria with that of shingles. But shingles restrict it on one side of body. If you suspect shingles, you should immediately see a doctor to get immediate medicine.

Types of Miliaria:

 Type of miliaria is identified by determining the level at which sweat gland duct is obstructed.

Miliaria Crystallina: It is the most superficial blockage of sweat glands. Clinically, it is the mildest form of miliaria. There are small blister-like lesions instead of rashes. These papules look like beads of perspiration.

Miliaria rubra: It is the most common form of miliaria which usually affects people. In this form of miliaria, sweat seeps into deeper layer of epidermis. It gives rise to inflammatory sensation and redness to the rashes (that is why it is called rubra). Blister-like lesions are a bit larger but still small, ranging in few millimeters. In this form, patient suffers with characteristic prickly sensation and lack of sweating in affected area (anhidrosis). In this kind of miliaria, if miliaria has affected large portion of body, person can get exhausted by heat due to inability of skin to sweat. It may also occur when the person continues to perform heat related activity.

Miliaria Profunda:

 It is the most severe form of miliaria. It spreads very quickly with lots of burning sensation; due to this, it is often referred as wildfire. Due to repeated occurrence of miliaria rubra, these symptoms occur. Sweat gland duct is obstructed at very low level and sweat is secreted between superficial and deep layers of the skin. This kind of rash breaks out within hours of sweat provoking activity and also goes away within hours after this stimulus to sweat is removed. Rashes are flesh colored as opposed to red colored rashes in rubra form.

Prevention and Treatment for Miliaria:

Patient should consult doctor after first episode of rashes of miliaria. Doctor can only distinguish between different forms of miliaria and it is also important to rule out shingles which is more serious problem.

Most often the rashes clear away after some time without ant treatment. But in severe form, it is necessary to see a doctor for proper medication. Sever cases can last for several weeks.

The main part of treatment of miliaria is taking general measures advised for all kinds of miliaria. Patient should avoid those activities which provoke sweat. If possible patient should stay in air-conditioned environment to beat heat. Person affected should take frequent cool showers and wear light clothing.

Patients often resort to antibacterial soaps and powders to reduce the severity of symptoms. Person can use other anti-itch preparations like calamine, steroid based preparations and menthol or camphor based preparations. Avoid using oil-based preparations because oil can aggravate the blockage of sweat glands and increase the severity of symptoms.

Patient should take vitamin A and C supplements and vitamin A based medication for increasing the immunity.  

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