Chafing And Running: How To Prevent It And Deal With It

Chafing and running is a number one complaint among athletes, especially long-distance runners. And there is no question why. Chafing can be crippling for a runner.

There are two types of chafing: skin-on-skin and fabric-on-skin. Skin-on-skin chafing is where your thighs or underarms rub together. Fabric-on-skin is when your shirt, sports bra, or bottoms rub the skin and aggravate it.

Chafing is caused by several different factors, including:

  • Extra body weight
  • Loose-fitting clothes
  • Non-breathable fabric
  • Hot or humid weather
  • Sensitive skin
  • Large muscles

Although minor chafing may not seem like an issue, it can turn out to be pretty painful and can hinder your overall performance, even forcing you to stop running in some situations. 

And running through chafing just makes it worse, and can mean that you have to take time off to heal.

Thankfully, you can prevent chafing while running with these helpful tips and tricks.

What Causes Chafing?

Contrary to popular belief, chafing is one of the most common and one the most unfortunate side effects of exercise. It is caused by skin-on-skin rubbing, or alternatively, chafing can be caused by your skin rubbing against fabric.

Chafing can also occur due to excessive sweating during exercise, and as we said before, this can happen to anyone during exercise.  

Chafing can feel quite uncomfortable because it is all to do with the combination of wet, sweaty skin along with rubbing – this can cause a burning sensation which leads to your skin chafing.

The burning sensation occurs due to the prolonged rubbing of friction, moisture and irritating fabric on your skin. In appearance, you will notice that chafing looks like a red rash, but it can also lead to bleeding skin.

Both men and women can suffer from chafing through exercise, and this chafing is not just limited to the thigh area. This is where chafing most commonly occurs, but there are other parts of the body where chafing can occur.

Chafing can also occur in the underarms area too, so you must invest in a high-quality deodorant that will serve you well not just in the underarm area, but in any area that you find to get particularly sweaty.

Additionally, you need to make sure that you work out in the appropriate garments that are quick-drying and that will not cling to sweat and moisture. Both men and women can purchase workout gear to suit them and this can help prevent chafing. 

As your largest organ, your skin has an extremely vital role in taking care of your overall health. Your skin is not only strong, but it is flexible too – so much so that it protects your internal body from outside elements and influences.

Some examples of these are germs, heat, and even physical harm. However, skin cells will reach a point where they are coming close to their limit. If they are overworked, then the skin cells will end up breaking down.

You need to ensure that your skin is clean and also dry, and it also needs to have just the right amount of body oil or body lotion so to prevent any kind of friction and chafing.

The repeated rubbing, especially when combined with moisture, will in turn make skin much more vulnerable and more likely to break down. This can be caused by endurance sports such as biking and running.

This also includes any other kinds of activities which combine together sweat and also repeated movements of the body. Chafing tends to occur when clothing or skin rubs on the skin. However, it is not just through endurance sports that chafing can occur. 

Chafing can just occur in daily life. For instance, women might find that when they are wearing a skirt in weather that is particularly hot or humid then they can develop chafing. 

This is because pants are not a barrier, in this case, your legs are exposed and there is nothing to protect your legs from rubbing.

Alternatively, if your clothes do not fit you properly then this can be something that incurs chafing. 

For instance, you can experience chafing if your sleeves, your bra strap, or even your waistband continuously annoyingly rubs against your skin, then you can experience skin chafing.

Can You Stop Your Thighs From Sweating?

Well… you can’t exactly stop your body from producing sweat. However, there are preventative measures that you can take just to make working out a much more comfortable experience for you overall. 

You need to dress to your best – and what we mean by this is that you need to wear clothes that will not rub you. Loose clothes can rub if you just wear them without layering. 

Some people prefer to work out in clothes that are not too tight fitting, but to avoid rubbing you could wear tighter garments underneath your loose-fitting clothing.

For instance, men can purchase lycra shorts as can women, who can also purchase sports bras to add extra support when working out. Alternatively, you can purchase Sport Shield which works hard to prevent chafing.

The Sport Shield has a roll-on application, which provides all-day protection against rubbing, chafing, irritation and also friction by creating a soothing and protective barrier. 

Sport Shield also prevents pain and discomfort that is caused by chafing or blisters, and you will be pleased to know that a little of this stuff goes a long way.

You can use Sport Shield on your underarm area, between the upper thigh area along with your groin area and over nipples, under the bra, and also on the tops of your toes and the backs of your heels. 

You need to also ensure that when you shower after your workout that you dry yourself properly after your workout. We know what you are thinking, you know how to dry yourself with a towel… 

But to avoid blistering the skin you need to make sure that you pat your skin dry. Do not rub your skin as this can cause irritation and exacerbate pain. 

Alternatively, if you notice that you already have a rash developing, then you can soothe this by applying an antibacterial ointment or you can rub Vaseline on areas that are chafed. 

This will give the chafed area some much-needed lubrication and this will in turn prevent further rubbing.

So, on the whole, you can’t necessarily stop your thighs from sweating – but you can take quite a few preventative measures to make you feel more comfortable when you work out. This is a trial and error process, but you need to work out what measures suit you the best.

Can You Stop Chafing When Running?

1. Wear Tight Layers

Skin-tight layers should be your best friend to prevent chafing. Reducing friction on your skin is one of the best ways to avoid chafing. 

Tight clothes provide a barrier so your skin won’t rub against other areas of the skin or loose fabric.

2. Wear Anti-Chafing Thigh Bands

Thigh bands are a fantastic choice for preventing thigh chafing while running. The best-known brand out there is Banelettes; their thigh bands are made to be worn up high on the thigh to avoid groin and thigh chafing. 

These anti-chafing bands are made from synthetic microfibers and non-slip silicone to prevent them from sliding down your legs. 

3. Lotion Up

Although it seems like slathering up before running would lead to more chafing, it’s quite the opposite. A little lubrication prevents the friction that leads to chafing. 

To avoid a rash from running, it is recommended to use Vaseline, Body Glide(designed for runners), or a hypoallergenic balm on sensitive areas before starting. 

It is crucial to cover all the usual hotspots like your thighs, groin, armpits, and nipples.

4. Powders Do the Job Too

A New York Road Runners coach, says powders are beneficial once chafing has already started. “After your run, dry the area thoroughly and use a medicated powder to keep the chafed area dry.”

Cornstarch-based powders work well for preventing sweating in problem areas.

5. Be Sure Your Equipment Won’t Cause Chafing

Heart rate monitors, hydration packs and belts, and armbands for your phone are all things that can cause chafing, and you should consider them before starting your run. 

To prevent or minimize the effects of chafing from your equipment, make sure to tighten straps so that your gear isn’t bouncing around and lubricate the areas that it will touch.

6. Stay Well Hydrated

With any sports-related ailment, prevention is the best policy, and chafing isn’t any different. 

Keeping yourself hydrated while running lowers the salt concentration in your sweat, which aids in preventing friction.

Proper water intake and using the tips in this article to care for areas prone to rubbing together are the best ways to avoid chafing.

Chafing while running can happen anywhere you have clothes rubbing against your body or in areas where your body rubs against itself. Most people do, however, chafe in four specific areas. 

These areas are the thighs, groin, nipples, and armpits. If you have chafing in any of these four problem areas, follow the tips below.

Can You Treat Chafing?

It is important to note that skin chafing must be treated with care, and is not something that you should ignore. 

If you are suffering from chafed skin then you should gently clean this area with water, and then pat the area dry.

Once you have cleaned the area then you can apply a lubricating substance such as petroleum jelly. 

Alternatively, if you find that the area is extremely painful, or extremely swollen, or if the area is bleeding, or perhaps if the area is crusted, then you might need to visit your doctor who would most likely recommend a medical ointment. 

It is key that you allow your skin to have sufficient time to heal properly before you even consider participating in any kind of physical activity. 

You do not want to impose continued friction upon your affected area, because this could end up making the chafed area a lot worse, so much so that it could even lead to the area being infected.

If you find that your skin chafing does not improve in any way, then you should book an appointment with your doctor especially if the chafed area has become infected. 

This will require some medical attention and possibly a medical ointment.

However, it is important to say this one thing: chafing should not stop you from doing something that you want to do. 

To advise you to avoid doing whatever caused the chafing is extremely unfair, especially because we have previously listed preventative measures that can prevent chafing.

What you should be doing is what you want, but in a way that is the most comfortable for you. 

You must ensure that when chafing does occur that you treat it properly and that you use a soothing lotion or just any kind of fragrance-free product that will repel moisture buildup.

You also need to ensure that when you have chafed skin you expose your skin to fresh air, the worst thing that you can do to chafed skin is encase it in tight-fitting clothing. 

This will end up making the chafing much worse.

When To See A Doctor

Consult your nearest healthcare provider if there are any signs of infection, or you have diabetes, and the skin is not healing. You might have a skin infection if:

  • It’s been a couple of days, and the area hasn’t scabbed over
  • Blood or puss is coming from the spot where the chafing occurred.
  • Your skin around the area is hot to the touch
  • There is swelling

It is not easy to prevent chafing while running, especially as you start running in the hot summer months up ahead. 

Being aware of your problem areas and taking preventative measures to keep them from rubbing is the only thing you can do regarding chafing. 

Luckily, if a chafing injury does occur, it heals quickly as long as you take care of it and gives it time to heal.

In Conclusion

Overall, chafing is something that can be prevented. 

But, if you are trying to treat chafing that you have already then do not worry. 

Chafing can actually heal in a few days if the problem is removed.

If you can’t have a complete break from the very activity that caused the chafing in the first place, you should definitely use protective measures when you are doing this activity. 

After all, the best treatment that you can give for chafing is prevention.



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