If you are fair skinned and plan to vacation in a more tropical climate than you're used to, you could be at risk for developing heat rash. Heat rash or prickly heat causes the skin to become red, swollen and blotchy and is often itchy and uncomfortable.
When your sweat glands are blocked, usually by heavy creams and lotions, your body can't cool itself properly. As a result, your body's immune system produces histamine as an allergic response, which causes the skin to develop an itchy rash. However, you can take steps to avoid heat rash.
Take vitamin C combined with vitamin E at least 10 days before traveling to a tropical climate or when expecting a sudden change in weather conditions. A study published in the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology" in January 1998 determined that 2 g of vitamin C and 1,000 international units, or IUs, of vitamin E can help prevent damage from sudden sun exposure.
Consume vitamin B-6. Heat rash is a response of your body's immune system. Keeping your immune system healthy helps it fight any infection or inflammation caused from excessive sun exposure. The U.S. recommended dietary allowance for adult men and women ages 19 to 50 for vitamin B-6 is 1.3 mg. The best way to consume enough vitamin B-6 is by eating fortified cereal. Other B-6 food sources include potatoes, bananas, chicken breasts and fortified instant oatmeal.
Wear loose cotton clothing to prevent heat rash. Vitamins alone will not prevent this itchy condition of the skin. Since heat rash is caused when the skin overheats, make sure your clothes are not too tight and constrictive so that your body can sweat freely and cool you off.
Avoid suntan lotions and creams that can clog your pores. Do not oversaturate your skin with heavy oils. Instead, use a light sunscreen. The Melanoma Foundations recommends using sunscreen lotion with an SPF level of 15 or higher. Cleanse the body frequently to keep your pores clear.
Keep skin cool by staying out of the direct rays of the sun and by drinking plenty of water. More serious conditions such as dehydration or heat stroke happen when you experience more heat than you're used to. Keep your body cool and hydrated to help you adjust more easily to warmer climates.
If you do get heat rash, stay indoors when possible
Use lanolin lotion to unblock pores.
Apply calamine lotion to affected areas to relieve itchy skin.
The Office of Dietary Supplements warns against taking more than 2 g of vitamin C and 1,000 IUs of vitamin E daily. Taking too much vitamin C can cause stomach problems and consuming too much vitamin E can reduce the body's ability to clot, leading to excessive bleeding.
Too much sun exposure causes skin cancer. Always wear a sunscreen with at least 15 SPF, depending on how fair your skin is.