Prevention and Treatment of Chafed Skin

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When you are stuck out on a long run, the worst that you can get is having that familiar burning sensation of chafing that is setting in. This is usually because of the sports bra strap that is rubbing raw from your shoulders, or, for men, this is usually because of the painful friction between your shirt and chest. To prevent this uncomfortable event to happen, it is recommended that you put on chafing cream before you go about your rigorous activities.

One doctor said that whether you are running, or walking, or just doing cardio, the constant rubbing together of the parts of your body will cause friction. This friction will eventually lead to the weakening or the wearing away of the skin, this condition is called chafing.


Chafing is typically categorized into two – the skin-on-skin rubbing which occurs when your thighs or underarms are rubbing against each other, and the Fabric-on-skin rubbing which occurs when your shirt, sports bra, or shorts lining aggravate the skin. The excessive moisture on the skin like sweat or rain will intensify the effects of chafing. This means that long runs in hot, humid, or rainy conditions might be a recipe for disaster.

Luckily, chafing can now be easily prevented and treated. This article will provide you with some tips for prepping your skin and also choosing the right gear for you to avoid the dreaded rubbing on your run.

A dermatologist said that if you are going to do a long-distance activity like running a marathon, you will want to create a layer between your skin and the workout gear that you are going to wear. If your skin is more pliable with moisturizers and lotions this will reduce the friction.

Although it might seem counterintuitive because wet conditions will increase chafing, dry skin as compared to moisturized skin is more at risk of rubbing.

For you to avoid this type of rash, it is recommended that a pre-run slather of a chafing cream, talcum powder or a hypoallergenic balm that is made specifically to reduce the effects of friction. You will just have to make sure to target areas that are highly at risk to chafing, like your thighs, armpits, nipples, and groin.

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Now that you have prepared your skin, the next thing that you should do is to choose the right apparel. It is important that you also consider the apparel that you are going to wear – that it should be made out of breathable and sweat-wicking materials from top to bottom in order to minimize the rubbing. You should forego using loose and ill-fitting cotton clothing because it will just trap in moisture. Therefore, it is recommended that you wear shirts and shorts that are made from synthetic materials that will cling to your body.

Furthermore, even if you are already wearing sweat-wicking clothes, it can still be sneaky chafers. Thus, ladies should also avoid wearing sports bras that are too snug, because they can dig into and irritate the shoulder blades and rib cages. As much as possible, it is recommended that ladies should wear seamless and tag-less gears because the stitches and tags can rub the skin.

However, when it comes to men, even the best synthetic top may not prevent the dreaded runner’s nipple – this is when the nipples chafe so much that they start to bleed. You can still save yourself the pain and maybe even the embarrassment by taping or band-aiding them before you go for a run.

Inevitably, chafing happens, but when it does, you do not have to worry that much because there are still a few ways to stop the problem before it gets worse. The first thing is when you hop in the shower, you should ensure that the water is set to a lukewarm temperature, this is because scalding water can make the burning sensation worse. You can also gently lather up with an antibacterial soap to prevent bacteria to creep into your exposed skin which may eventually lead to other problems like folliculitis, which is a skin condition that usually occurs in athletes.

Thus, in treating the chafing of your skin, it is really important that you wash the inflamed areas with a gentle body wash or plain lukewarm water so to soothe the irritation from dried sweat and also help to control fungal growth. You should avoid rubbing it dry and pat it instead. It is even encouraged that you use a fan or a blow dryer in drying the affected area.

After cleaning the affected area, you can now treat the chafed area as often as twice per day with a zinc oxide ointment which is also often being used in diaper rash products, or a balm to soothe the abrasion and restore the damaged skin. If you think that you will need something that is stronger for a one-time incident, you may try applying topical over-the-counter corticosteroid twice per day for three days.

However, if the chafing is from excessive sweating, then you might have a condition called hyperhidrosis which can be treated with prescription-strength aluminum chloride antiperspirants, Botox injections in the affected areas, or oral medication.

To mitigate chafing, if not prevent it, you can also try to interrupt the friction to your skin by applying a thick, slippery product like petroleum jelly on chafe-prone areas to reduce the friction and prevent abrasion of your skin. You can also use products with silicone, beeswax, or shea butter to get the same benefit. You should not rely on using oily lotions which will not last as long. You will want a product that you scoop out of the jar that is specifically formulated for chafing.

There are also over-the-counter antiperspirants that contain aluminum chloride which can block sweat in any moisture-prone skin like under the breasts or in the inner thigh or groin area, not just your armpits. You can also consider adding an antifungal powder so that it will further wick away moisture and protect against infections.

Preventing and treating chafing of skin will mostly be dependent on the apparel that you wear and the use of the right chafing cream.


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