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9 Tips to Prevent Chafing While Exercising

November 13, 2019

Want to stay fit? Then you’ll want to start exercising. You’ve probably heard this before but it comes with many health benefits. For instance, it can help with weight loss, strengthen your muscles and bones, and increase your energy levels. On top of that, it can improve your brain function as well! Did I also mention that it can boost your mood?

Given all that, it’s easy to see why so many people go to the gym—it’s one of the best things that you can do for your body! When it comes to exercise, though, there are certain things that you want to keep in mind. For starters, you want to pay attention to what you’re wearing—the last thing that you want is to work out in a pair of jeans! Instead, you should invest in some athletic clothes. Why? They’re designed specifically for exercise! In other words, they’ll maximize your performance.

Not only that, but wearing proper clothing can help to prevent injury. For example, long, baggy pants can easily get caught in gym equipment. The opposite is true as well—that is, tight garments can cause chafing. As you can imagine, that’s not exactly the kind of thing that you want. Not only would it be painful, but it can affect your performance!

Want to learn more about chafing? If so, you’re at the right place! We’ll be going over all that you need to know about the topic below—including how to prevent it!

What is Chafing?

what is chafing

Chafing is a type of skin irritation that is caused by friction. To be more specific, it occurs when the skin rubs against itself repeatedly. Initially, it will cause a stinging or burning sensation. Over time, however, the movements will wear away the skin, which can cause redness, swelling, bleeding, or crusting.

While you can develop chafing anywhere on your body, it’s commonly seen on the thighs, groin, feet, armpits, and buttocks, as those areas tend to rub against clothing.

Common Causes of Chafing

Chafing is a result of repeated rubbing. As mentioned earlier, it’s more common if the skin is moist. Why? It becomes more prone to breaking down. Ultimately, this is why it’s often seen in those who exercise—your skin becomes more sensitive if it’s covered with sweat. On top of that, the repeated motions can contribute to the problem.

Another cause is ill-fitting clothes. For instance, you might experience chafing if your sleeves rub repeatedly on your skin. At the end of the day, that’s why it’s so important to wear proper garments when you’re exercising!

How to Treat Chafing

This goes without saying but you want to stop any activity that’s causing the chafing. Consider changing into something more comfortable if it’s an issue with your clothes.

As far as the affected area goes, you want to apply a bit of petroleum jelly after patting it dry. Applying a soothing balm, oil, or lotion to the skin can also help. Given that you stop the activity, chances are, it’ll heal within a few days. Avoid exposing the area to hot water or harsh soaps as that can dry out the skin, which can slow down the recovery progress.

Complications From Chafing

Most cases of chafing will heal on their own. In some cases, however, they can lead to complications. After all, the friction would have broken the skin’s protective barrier. In other words, it’d be easy for bacteria and germs to enter the wound site. Seek medical attention if you notice any discoloration, crusting, swelling, or bleeding. Depending on the situation, your doctor might prescribe a steroid cream for you to apply to the area.

How to Prevent Chafing When Exercising – 9 Best Tips

As mentioned earlier, chafing is often caused by exercise. Fortunately, however, there are several ways to prevent it from happening. To be more specific, there are various things that you can do that will prevent your skin from rubbing against itself or your clothes. As a matter of fact, prevention is quite simple. Let’s take a look at what you can do about it below!

1. Always Use Deodorant

deodorant for chafing

Sweat increases the risk of chafing. Given that, it only makes sense that deodorant would help. What’s more, is that they often contain a moisturizer that will add a layer of protection to your skin.

Assuming that you’re prone to chafing, you want to apply a thin layer of deodorant to the problem areas before starting the activity. For instance, it might be a good idea to apply it to your thighs if they tend to rub together during exercise. If necessary, reapply it after a few hours—after all, deodorant won’t stay on your skin forever. Ultimately, the goal is to prevent yourself from sweating before it starts to become an issue.

2. Apply a Lubricant

Lubricants can also help prevent chafing. How? By creating a layer between your skin and your clothes. In doing so, your skin will not be as vulnerable to friction. As far as the actual lubricant goes, there are various types that you can choose from—for instance, there are creams, powders, and oils. While they all work, powders tend to be less effective as there’s a possibility that they can clump.

What’s the best way to use them? Similar to deodorants, you want to apply the lubricant to target areas that are prone to chafing such as your thighs, groin, and armpits. Consider bringing a travel-size tube with you so that you can touch up during your exercise routine (the product can come off if you’re sweating)!

3. Wear Moisture-Wicking Clothes

wear moisture wicking clothes

We mentioned this earlier but your clothes can contribute to chafing. Take cotton shirts, for instance—the material tends to retain sweat, which keeps your skin moist. Ultimately, that can increase your risk of friction, which will lead to chafing. The same goes for skin-tight clothes; that’s why it’s so important to wear something comfy when you’re exercising.

More specifically, you want to wear something that’s made out of a moisture-wicking material (e.g. polyester, nylon)—aka activewear. Unlike cotton, these types of clothes do not retain moisture. Instead of being absorbed into the fibers, the sweat will travel to the surface where it’ll then evaporate. In other words, your skin will not be clammy. As a result, you’ll be much less likely to experience chafing.

4. Invest in Anti-Chafing Undergarments

Believe it or not but anti-chafing undergarments do exist. Essentially, they’re garments made out of polyester or nylon aka moisture-wicking material. Worn underneath your clothes, they can prevent your skin from rubbing against itself.  They’re not just for exercise either—you can easily wear them under casual wear. In any case, they’re light and breathable. Just make sure to get the right size! The last thing that you want to do is to wear something that’s too big for you—that’ll only have the opposite effect.

5. Choose Seamless Clothing

Seams in shorts or leggings are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to chafing in the thighs. The same goes for other garments such as tops or bras. Given all that, it’s best to choose something seamless—that way, you won’t have to worry about there being any functional hazards.

At the very least, you want to try and avoid those with prominent seams that can rub against your skin. For instance, you can choose a shirt that’s fitted into the armpit. Avoid wearing underwear altogether if you’re cycling as it’ll just increase the chances of friction between your skin (i.e. just bike shorts will suffice).

6. Make Your Own Anti-Chafing Cream

coconut oil for antichafing cream

Did you know you can make your own anti-chafing cream? If anything, it’s quite simple. You only need two things—coconut oil and corn starch. Yup, as it turns out coconut oil is excellent at preventing chafing and irritation when paired with cornstarch! If you want, you can also add a bit of essential oil for fragrance.

Ultimately, what you want to do is to mix the two ingredients in a small bowl. You can play around with the ratios but we’ve found that 1.5 part coconut oil to 1 part cornstarch tends to work best. At the end of it, you should get something that resembles a paste. Simply apply it to your skin and you’ll be ready for some chafe-free exercise!

7. Wear Soft Bandages

Bandages aren’t just for wounds—they can also be used to prevent chafing. How do they work? They prevent friction by adding a second layer of “skin”. You can apply them anywhere on your body including the inner thighs, feet, and nipples. While you can use any type of adhesive bandage, some companies do make a special tape for this kind of purpose. The key is to make sure that they’re secure; you wouldn’t want them to move around when you’re exercising—that will only make the situation worse!

8. Take Off Wet Clothes

Never keep wet clothes on. It doesn’t matter whether it’s wet from sweat or the rain—you want to change out of them as soon as possible. For this reason, it might be a good idea to bring a change of clothes with you. As you can imagine, the moisture will only increase the likelihood of friction as it will be sticking to your skin.

The same thing goes for swimsuits. Don’t lounge in them once you’ve gotten out of the water—you don’t want to have tight, wet fabric on your skin.

9. Take the Weather Into Consideration

running in the evening

Planning on going for a run? Avoid the mid-day sun; aim for the cooler periods in the morning or evening. Why? You won’t be sweating nearly as much—that is, your skin will be kept dry. With that, you’ll also be less likely to experience chafing.

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