If you’ve ever experienced chafing, then you’ll know it’s not fun. While chafing is common during a workout, there are actions that you can take that can mitigate chafing or even prevent it altogether.
Using these tips will help to eliminate the discomfort of chafing, leaving you feeling fresh and ready for your workout.
What is chafing?
Chafing is a skin condition that occurs from friction and/or repetitive rubbing of skin against skin or clothing. It can result in a mild rash, that causes your skin to become red and inflamed. In more severe cases, it can cause bleeding and swelling.
Typically, most people develop chafing on the thighs when working out as the thighs tend to rub together as well as on the underarms, groin and feet. Others, particularly long-distance and/or marathon runners, experience nipple chafing.
Symptoms of chafing
Symptoms of chafing include:
- Burning sensation
- Red and/or inflamed area
How to prevent chafing during your workout
Follow these tips to minimize chafing.
Wear specific fabrics
The type of workout clothes you wear can make a difference in preventing chafing or minimizing the effects of chafing.
You want to remain dry and keep your workout clothes from absorbing sweat. Not only will it feel better, but you’ll also be able to prevent chafing.
Choose your workout clothes wisely and opt for moisture-wicking fabrics. Its purpose is two-fold. The first is to move the sweat to the fabric’s top or outer layer, drawing the moisture away from the skin so it doesn’t stick. The second is to quickly dry the fabric so that you don’t sweat through the fabric.
Find workout clothes that are made up of synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon. Don’t wear apparel to your training session that’s made of cotton. Cotton keeps sweat in the fabric. It’ll stick to your skin, meaning it can increase friction and hence, chafing.
And yes, this also extends to your undergarments and socks.
Wearing loose clothes is fine, but it does increase the risk of getting chafing because there’s more space to allow for friction. However, you don’t want to wear clothes that are too tight either as that’ll be uncomfortable and make any chafing worse.
Wearing nicely fitted clothes for your body, such as compression shorts, are a great way to prevent chafing during a workout. It’s thin fabric so it won’t get too hot and uncomfortable, not to mention, the compression technology will mean that it’ll draw moisture away, dry faster and evaporate sweat.
Apply lubricant and/or anti-chafing balm
To minimize friction and skin-on-skin contact, you can apply lubricant or anti-chafing balm/cream or powder. These sweat-resistant creams or powder work to prevent moisture from building on your skin as well as ensure that there is less friction occurring.
You can apply these to places that commonly chafe such as your thighs, nipples, underarms and feet. Make sure that your skin is clean and dry beforehand and reapply as necessary.
Some options include vaseline and coconut oil.
Some areas may need an extra layer of protection between the skin and clothes. This is a problem experienced commonly by marathon runners in which their shirt rubs against their nipples over a long period of time, resulting in them bleeding and becoming cracked. It’ll also occur on your hands if you’re holding equipment for long.
How to treat chafing
Despite your efforts, if you’ve developed chafing during your workout, while it’ll clear on its own, there are some simple ways to treat it and mitigate its effects.
- Gently clean and dry the area – be gentle as your skin would be inflamed and irritated.
- Apply an anti-inflammatory cream or petroleum jelly that’ll offer relief from burning or irritation.
- Use an ice pack – to reduce the inflammation.
- Rest and recover – If the area is feeling pretty raw then take a couple of days to allow the skin to heal. Otherwise, it may increase irritation and worsen the chafing.
You don’t have to suffer through chafing to get in a good workout. By choosing the right fitness clothes to wear and implementing preventive measures such as using balms or powder and tape, you can reduce the risk of chafing, and complete your workout feeling great.