How do I get rid of heat rash?

by Monica Wilde.
Updated Summer 2016.

Heat rash is annoying to say the least! It is also called prickly heat or miliaria. You can get it anywhere on your body but it's most common on your face, neck, hands and arms, chest, back and thighs. Heat rash is when your skin looks red and seems to contain a rash of lots of small, bumpy red spots that look like tiny little blisters. They itch and sometimes feel as if they are prickly or stinging. Luckily herbs can really help!

What causes heat rash?

Heat rash tends to happen when your skin's sweat glands get blocked, and sweat gets trapped under your skin. This is what causes the irritation. We find this is most common in the summer during hot, humid weather but it can also happen to some people in the winter. People who sweat more, such as those who are a tad overweight, are more likely to be affected - as are the parts of your body that don't get exposed to much air (such as skin folds) and get overheated. Children are also often affected as their sweat glands take a while to fully develop so their skin overheats more quickly.

How can I avoid prickly heat?

The simplest way to avoid heat rash is to stay cool and out of the heat. Keep in the shade and wear loose clothes. Ideally, your clothes should be made of breathable natural fabrics like cotton. Make sure you drink lots of water.

You should also avoid things that make you hotter internally as well. So its best to avoid spicy foods, hot drinks, hot showers or hot baths. Avoiding alcohol, caffeinated drinks and sugar can also help.

What is the common treatment for heat rash?

Doctors can prescribe hydrocortisone cream if your skin is very bad but long-term use of steroid creams can thin your skin and ironically, in some cases, can cause millaria. Some other common side effects can include nausea, heartburn, headache, dizziness, menstrual period changes, trouble sleeping, increased sweating, or acne.

Can I treat heat rash naturally?

There are several natural herbs that will help to cool and soothe overheated skin.


Chickweed is a cooling, soothing plant that is native to Britain. It is used in simple moisturisers for people who are hypersensitive to creams with many chemical additives or fragrance because it is moisturises, cools and calms the skin. Napiers Chickweed Cream and Baby Napiers Cooling Chickweed Cream both contain chickweed in a very simple natural base. It also tastes lovely picked fresh - like a cross between spinach and cucumber. If you find it try putting it through your wheatgrass juicer or make it into a soup.


If you've ever tried the old trick of putting peppermint toothpaste on a insect bite, you'll know that peppermint is extra cooling! Many of Napiers creams contain peppermint, often combined with chamomile - another soothing, calming herb added to many moisturising creams. Try our Foot Recovery Cream (which of course you can use on other parts of your body) or Chamomile and Peppermint Skin Cream to get the cooling benefits of peppermint. We also make an Organic Peppermint Lip Salve for hot lips!

Because peppermint is so cooling and insect repellents are most often used in the summer on sunburned or over heated skin, we also add both peppermint and chickweed into our amazing Organic Bugbuster Insect Repellent Cream

Here's an unusual tip from our herbalists as well. Our Napiers After Dinner Mint Mixture is a peppermint-based digestif for sipping after meals when you want the effects of an extra strong Peppermint Tea. But if you add a capful to your bath water, you also get a very skin-cooling, bath milk for those days when you skin feels particularly overheated! Alternatively, brew a pot of our Organic Peppermint Tea and drink a cup while adding the rest to your bath water.


Lavender is very cooling especially if your skin is a little sunburnt as well. Try Napiers Lavender Gel for a cooling topical gel. It also contains soothing chamomile as well as ginseng to help rejuvenate the skin.


Other gels that are soothing for the skin include aloe vera. Napiers Aloe Vera and Seaweed Gel is perfect as an after-sun gel as it both cools and remineralises.


Heat rash can be made worse by water retention. Make sure you drink lots of water and that it is flushing through you. If it isn't try adding a spoonful of Dandelion Tincture to a small glass of water or some Dandelion Leaf Tea. Dandelion is diuretic (which means that it helps you pee) and naturally high in essential minerals like potassium which is why it is often eaten as a spring green or drunk as Dandelion Juice. The roasted root is also often used as a substitute for coffee.


If you sometimes suffer from allergies or hayfever and think that your heat rash might be slightly related, you could also try taking nettle. Nettle triggers an antihistamine effect in the body's masthead receptor cells so often helps to reduce sensitivity to allergens such as dust and pollens. You can pick nettles to make your own juice or soup. We also supply Organic Nettle Tea and Nettle Juice in case there really isn't a nettle patch near you! 

Chickweed is a very cooling herb used in many Napiers creams.

Peppermint also cools quickly and takes the sting out of itchy skin.