Chill out in the summer heat
CLUMPS of itchy or prickly tiny red bumps on the skin that appear with hot humid weather in tropical countries is called miliaria or prickly heat in layman's terms.
Miliaria is not a major illness but all of us would have had it some time; and it can be an awful nuisance. And when it affects babies alarm bells ring.
Miliaria occurs because hot weather results in excess sweating. The sweat that stays on the skin damages skin cells and blocks duct pores resulting in sweat being trapped under the skin forming bumps. The bumps burst releasing sweat and this results in the prickly feeling or itching.
Usually it resolves in a few days but occasionally infection can result if the skin is mauled during the scratching.
Can one beat miliaria? Frequent showers, keeping the skin cool by wearing cool, loose, cottons that absorb sweat as opposed to synthetics that don't can help prevent miliaria.
Babies are particularly prone to miliaria.The urban propensity to dress babies with fancy clothes makes them more vulnerable.
Do talcum powders help? Not really; for powders do not make the bumps go away or stop the itch. The key lies in understanding what causes miliaria and following the simple steps to prevent it. Traditionally, Indian babies have not had a miliaria problem; for we clothed them minimally and kept them cool. Pretty baby dressed in lace and satin and disposable diapers may look good; but then miliaria will be part of the package.
Dr. Hiramalini Seshadri
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WITH the soaring mercury levels, the present heat wave could affect health. Even short exposure to high temperatures can cause serious health problems. Two common problems are Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke.
Heat Exhaustion is caused by excessive loss of water and salt from the body through perspiration. The warning signs include excess sweating, muscle cramps, excessive tiredness and feeling weak, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting, fast pulse and rapid breathing.
Drinking plenty of water (three to four litres a day) and taking extra salt, wearing light-coloured loose cotton clothes, avoiding going out in the hot sun and using an umbrella or a large hat are some of the basic precautionary measures that can be followed to beat the soaring temperatures.
Treatment of heat exhaustion includes shifting the person to an A/c room and allowing the body to cool or having a bath. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it progresses to heat stroke, which can be fatal.
Warning signs of heat stroke are high body temperature above 104<108,SYM,176> Fahrenheit/40<108,SYM,176> Centigrade, hot dry skin, mental confusion and unconsciousness. Certain groups of individuals like the very young, very old, those with an existing medical illness such as diarrhoea or vomiting and fever and those taking certain medication especially for neurological or psychiatric problems, are more prone to developing heat exhaustion/stroke
Dr. Anand Job
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