Even short periods in high temperatures can cause health problems that range from minor to life threatening. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness in order to ensure proper treatment.
Sunburn should be avoided because it is damaging to the skin. While the discomfort is usually minor and healing occurs in about a week, some sunburns can be more severe and require medical attention.
Skin becomes red, painful and abnormally warm after sun exposure.
Consult a doctor if an infant under 1 year of age is sunburned or has the following symptoms: fever, fluid-filled blisters and/or severe pain.
Tips for treating sunburn:
Avoid repeated sun exposure.
Apply cool compresses or immerse the affected area in cool water.
Apply moisturizing lotion to affected areas. Do not use salve, butter or ointment.
Do not break blisters.
Do not apply ice.
Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather. It can occur at any age but is most common in young children.
Heat rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters. It is more likely to occur on the neck and upper chest, in the groin, under breasts, and in elbow creases and other skin folds.
The best treatment is to provide a cooler, less humid
Keep the affected area dry.
powder may be used to increase comfort, but avoid
using ointments or creams as they keep the skin
warm and moist and may make the condition worse.
Treating heat rash is simple and usually does not
require medical assistance.
Usually heat cramps affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. When the body is depleted of salt and moisture, the low salt level in the muscles causes painful cramps. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.
Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms that usually occur in the abdomen, arms, or legs, which may occur in association with strenuous activity.
If you have a heart problem or are on a low
sodium diet, seek medical attention.
Stop all activity and rest in a cool, shaded area.
Do not return to the strenuous activity for a few
hours after the cramps subside, further exertion
may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Seek medical attention for heat cramps that do
not subside within one hour.
Drink fluids such as water, fruit juices and sports
drinks to rehydrate and replace salt and mineral
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt contained in sweat. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are the elderly, people with high blood pressure and people working or exercising in a hot environment.
Warning signs of heat exhaustion include:
Skin may feel cool and moist
rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast
If untreated, heat exhaustion may progress to heat stroke. Seek medical attention immediately.
Cooling measures that may be effective include:
Cool, non-alcoholic beverages, as directed by
A cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
An air-conditioned environment
When heat stroke occurs the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down and body temperature may rise to 106ºF or higher. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.
Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include:
A body temperature above
Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
Rapid, strong pulse
Heat stroke can be a life-threatening emergency.
Immediately begin cooling the victim and call for
Get the victim to a shady area.
Rapidly cool the victim using whatever methods
Wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan
Spray or sponge with cool water and fan.
Immerse in a tub of cool shallow
water only if awake and alert.
Place in a cool shower.
Monitor body temperature, and continue cooling
efforts until the victim’s temperature drops to
If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call
a hospital emergency department for further