Chafing (31 July 2018)

What is Chafing?

Chafing is damage to the skin caused by repetitive rubbing. A chafed area is basically a painful, bleeding scratch mark where your sweaty, salty skin has rubbed against your clothing or even against itself. The chafed area will be red, raw, and tender.

When you sweat, the moist skin is more prone to damage. Salt crystals form when sweat evaporates, adding grit that can cause more friction and chafing. Hot weather is a high-risk time for chafing due to sweating, but you can also chafe in cold or dry weather.

 Every Tuesday on 
East Coast Drive with Bongani and Mags
between 16h40 & 16h50


Areas Prone to Chafing

  • Armpits
  • Groin
  • Under-breast area & Nipples (especially amongst Runners)
  • Inner thighs (being prime chafing area)

If you have any rolls of fat or sagging skin you may experience chafing in the folds where it is moist and skin rubs on skin. You can get extra friction in those areas when you exercise due to repetitive motion, leading to chafing. However, you can be toned and trim and still need to take measures to prevent chafing.

Solutions for Armpit Chafing

The armpits are a prime area for chafing due to your sweat glands.

  • Try an antiperspirant that dries into a powder. This will not only keep you dry, it prevents the skin tackiness you can get with deodorant stick.
  • Avoid armpit hair stubble, which can lead to chafing. Either let your armpit hair grow or ensure it is freshly shaved.
  • Lubricate your armpits well before workouts. A silicone-based lubricant is especially good for this area, and it won't stain your shirts.
  • Wear shirts that fit well in the armpits, without bunching. Look for seamless sleeves or those with flat seams.

Solutions for Groin Chafing

Men are especially prone to groin chafing, but it can affect women as well. Take these steps:

  • Apply lubricants generously to the groin area before you run, walk, or bike. You may need to reapply them during long workouts. Avoid the vagina or urethral opening as you may feel stinging or irritation from some lubricants in these area.
  • If you wear briefs or bikini underwear with elastic at the leg openings, be sure to lubricate those areas.
  • Wear snug but not overly-tight workout shorts. Avoid shorts that will bunch up around the groin. Look for seamless shorts.
  • Cyclists should wear bike shorts that have a built-in chamois, which wicks moisture away from the skin, and apply a lubricant to groin area as well.
  • Pubic hair stubble can contribute to chafing, so either go natural or keep the area well-depilated.

Solutions for Chafing of Nipples and Under Breasts

Use these steps to prevent painful chafing:

  • Cover your nipples to keep them from rubbing against your shirt. Wear a Good Quality Fitting Sports Bra.
  • Keep your under-breast area dry by using an absorbent body powder.
  • Lubricate the areas where your bra straps rub against the skin.
  • Choose sports bras that have a soft fabric covering over the elastic and that have wide straps.

Solutions for Chafed Thighs

If you have experienced chafed thighs, use the prevention tactics in these ways:

  • Start by keeping the area dry. You can use body powder or a sports powder to ensure extra protection.
  • Choose tights or light compression shorts that will protect your skin. Be sure they have flat seams or are seamless.
  • For women Running Skorts (latest trend) often have these shorts built-in. They should be made of sweat-wicking fabric, not cotton, if you are going to be exercising and sweating.