Staying Healthy in Thailand
Heat Rash also known as Prickly Heat or Miliaria is an annoying and trying affliction that affects a great number of people both visiting and living in warm/hot climates. Heat Rash occurs when the sweat glands in the skin become blocked and the produced sweat is unable to get to the surface of the skin to evaporate. When we visit or live in a warm climate our body has to find a way to cool itself by sweating and allowing the perspiration to evaporate. Sweat is created in sweat glands that line almost the entire body. Sweat glands are located in the dermis or deep layer of our skin, are regulated by temperature control centres in the brain and send sweat to the surface by ducts. When these ducts become clogged and the sweat cannot get to the surface, it becomes trapped causing inflammation or a rash.
Visiting or living in Thailand one is constantly subjected to warm/hot temperatures causing our bodies to sweat excessively. Heat rash often first appears where we have creases in the skin, like the neck, armpits or groin area where skin touches adjoining skin making it difficult for the air to circulate. Tight clothing prevents sweat evaporation and the use of heavy creams and especially suntan lotions can clog the sweat ducts.
There are different types of Heat Rash that can be easily identified. Miliaria Crystallinaproduces small blisters that look like beads of sweat where the sweat is blocked at the most superficial layers of the skin. Miliaria Rubra occurs when the sweat causes inflation in the deeper layers of the epidermis. This type of rash is also often referred to as Prickly Heat. Miliaria Profunda. This rash begins almost immediately after exercise or exposure to heat and generally no sweat is found on the affected areas. Whilst none of the types of heat rash are dangerous, the lack of sweating can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat-stroke. Generally, heat rash is irritating and will resolve itself but sometimes the sweat glands can become affected as bacteria has invaded the blocked sweat glands.
Treatments for Heat Rash are most often ‘home remedies’ and over the counter creams, however in the event of chronic or recurrent heat rash, antibiotic treatment may be required.
Authors Notes: I have suffered 2 bouts of Heat Rash since moving to Thailand. For the first I visited a reputable hospital, consulted a specialist and was prescribed a variation of medication, special soap and creams. All naturally at a cost! In defence to the hospital concerned the outbreak was resolved in about 7 days and I did not change my lifestyle in any way. The second attack was prolonged and affected several areas of my body. I conducted extensive research, looked for treatment and also looked at lifestyle changes. Initial visited to Pharmacies resulted in a range of cremes, most of which were not suitable and some of which were much too intensive for the condition.
Lifestyle – Like many, I love to live in Thailand, I love to be hot and sweat a lot but when a persistent heat rash starts one must look at one’s lifestyle in addition to remedies. The body needs to be cooled, I started wearing looser, natural fabrics instead of cooling/sweat reducing man-made fibres. They may be good on the golf course but continuous wearing leads to sweat retention. I took cold showers at every opportunity and whilst I love outdoor living, I did start to look for fans and even occasionally, air-conditioned establishments. I also started using AC at night just to help lower my body temperature. I drink a lot of water and made sure that I did!
Remedies – I was looking for natural remedies. First on my list was Calamine Lotion. Its an old and trusted treatment that does provide relief but did not seem to improve the symptoms. Research lead me to the importance of hygiene and the use of anti-bacterial soap to ensure that the ski surface remains as clean as possible. Many avenues lead to Aloe Vera and whilst cooling the amounts of chemicals in a normal Aloe Vera cream are troubling and many will find that the use of perfume in the products is not what you need when you have heat rash.
Solutions – Researching for a 100% pure Aloe Vera lead me to the Tumrubthai Herbs Shop located in Central Marina. I did discover 100% pure Aloe Vera but this is a liquid form, the nearest is about 99% pure. However I was recommended a local product, Namporn Herbal Cool Liquid Powder. Applied as a liquid, it dries quickly to a powder. It is incredibly cooling which is so good in controlling heat rash. The cost is just THB.119 and can be highly recommended for heat rash and insect bites. Highly popular and readily available is Snake Brand Prickly Heat Powder, this is excellent to stop heat rash at the onset as it cools the skin, however be careful if the symptoms continue.
The heat and warmth of Thailand is to be enjoyed. Don’t hide in air-conditioned establishments. Get out, sweat and revel in everything that this country has to offer!
Tumrubthai Herbs Shop website
Kim Waddoup enjoyed a lifetime in the tourism business and is an active ‘Silver-Ager” living in Thailand. He writes for his age group with high varied articles covering subjects relevant to retirees living in, or visiting Thailand.
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