What is Miliaria?

This is a very irritating, frequently intensely itchy dermatitis that occurs chiefly on the upper parts of the body, the upper limbs and areas where skin surfaces rub together. Inflammation, burning, small itchy pimples, little blisters (vesicles) and pus-filled blisters (pustules) are usually present.

It is common in hot climates and is due to blockage of the tiny sweat ducts from any cause. Previous inflammations of the skin (such as a previous dermatitis), blocking of the superficial part of the ducts with adhesive plaster applied to the skin, and following sunburn are common instances.

If the sweat duct is blocked a little distance from the surface, sweat escapes into the surrounding tissues, and true “prickly heat” occurs. The itch can be intense and extremely aggravating. Regular exposure to the sun and securing a good suntan is claimed to help many avoid recurrences. However, this can have the reverse effect on those susceptible to hot sunlight.

Miliaria Treatment

Avoid precipitating factors whenever possible. Working in controlled temperatures with reasonable levels of humidity and adequate ventilation will assist. Avoid excessive bathing and the overuse of strong soaps. Cool showers may assist.

Frequent application of cool “antipruritic” lotions (anti-itch lotions) often brings some relief. For example this simple prescription is helpful: Menthol 1 part; Phenol 2 parts; Glycerin 15 parts; Alcohol 35 percent; qs ad 240 parts.

Simple talc dusting powder may give some relief.

If these simple measures fail to bring reasonable response, expert advice from a physician or skin consultant may be necessary. In any event, it may be needed to confirm the remedies that are available include: Corticosteroid creams if there is darker skin inflammation. (Available only on prescription.) If severe, it may warrant a short course of oral steroids. Additional treatment may be required from the doctor if superimposed bacterial infection is present.