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Feeling Hot to Touch

When skin feels hot to the touch, it means the body’s temperature is hotter than normal. Sometimes a person’s skin feels hot to the touch due to illness. This can also be caused by an environmental situation that increases body temperature.

It’s important to determine if the person has an increased body temperature caused by a fever. If a fever is present, it may be treated with fluids and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as acetominophen or ibuprofen. Aspirin shouldn’t be used to treat fever in anyone 17 years or younger. None of these drugs should be used to treat environmental heat illness.

Another cause can be dehydration. The very young, very old, and obese people are especially vulnerable to dehydration. It’s important to make sure they’re taking in enough fluids during the day. They should also be protected from extremely hot environmental temperatures. Heat exhaustion is an emergency condition that can result from extreme dehydration and salt depletion.

Common causes


During exercise, it’s recommended to drink 8 ounces of fluid every twenty minutes. If a person becomes overheated due to the environment or exercise, keep them in a cool, shaded place. Apply cool wet cloths to their skin. Placing cool compresses on the groin, neck, and armpit helps lower the body temperature. Provide cool fluids as frequently as the person can tolerate.

Sports drinks replace fluids, as well as electrolytes, which can be important in combating dehydration. Water, popsicles, and ice chips also work well. The important thing is to try to keep the person hydrated with fluids any way you can.

When to call 911

Call 911 if:

  • the person loses consciousness
  • the person is confused, lethargic, or delirious
  • the person is disoriented or has a seizure
  • the person is breathing rapidly or has a rapid pulse
  • the person’s condition deteriorates
  • the person is nauseous or vomiting

When to call your doctor

Call a doctor if:

  • the person is vomiting and unable to hold down fluids
  • the skin forms "tents" when pinched and does not return to normal
  • the temperature is over 102 degrees F and does not respond to the above measures

Content licensed from:

Written by: The Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: Oct 27, 2016: Judith Marcin, MD

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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