Chafing is a common skin condition that happens to people a lot in the summer, and understanding how to prevent skin chafing is much wiser than simply dealing with the issue when it occurs.
Chafing is caused by friction on the skin (such as thighs rubbing together while walking) combined with moisture (such as sweat during the summer months). Chafing can even be caused by irritating fabric.
Let’s go back to the thighs rubbing together example. When you go for a summer walk, run, or hike, you may want to wear shorts that are long enough to cover all of your thighs. This is because prolonged rubbing of the skin (and the skin-on-skin friction) can make your skin sting, burn, or feel raw. If you don’t wear proper clothing to prevent skin chafing, this prolonged friction can cause you to develop a rash on your skin where the chafing occurred, and it can be very painful to endure. Imagine having no choice but to hike back down a trail while you’re chafing (because there’s no gondola or other way of getting down) and you must endure the sting or burn of the chafing the entire time. Doesn’t that sound uncomfortable? That’s why it’s so important to prevent chafing.
If your skin tends to chafe, then anti-chafing strategies should be added to your list for how to exercise safely in the summer heat.
It’s most common for chafing to occur on the inner thighs, groin, buttocks, nipples and underarms.
In severe cases, chafing could include bleeding, swelling, or crusting of the skin. However, even if it’s just a skin rash, it’s still very uncomfortable.
Who is Most Likely to Experience Skin Chafing?
Below are examples of situations that can lead to chafing
- Exercising in hot or humid weather
- Excessive sweating
- Those who wear ill-fitting clothing or wear cheap fabrics that don’t wick moisture
- Those who have sensitive skin
- People who are carrying extra body weight
- Those who wear clothing that is not suitable for endurance exercise (such as going for a long walk in a skirt, or going for a hike wearing shorts that are far too short.)
How to Prevent Chafing
Since chafing is so uncomfortable, it’s important to keep reading this article to learn how to prevent skin chafing. If you take the steps to prevent chafing before you go about your activities in the summer heat, you’ll likely be able to prevent having to deal with this uncomfortable and irritating skin condition.
Preventing chafing is mostly about preventing the combination of moisture and friction.
Below are some tips about how to prevent skin chafing this summer.
1. Use Natural Deodorant
Wearing deodorant can help prevent chafing in the armpit and underarm areas. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to stick to natural deodorant. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, there are many other benefits of using natural deodorant.
Some people also apply their deodorant to their inner thigh area to help prevent skin chafing there, as well. However, there are better products for inner thigh chafing:
2. Anti-Chafe Balm
Anti-Chafe Balm, such as ‘Body Glide: The Original Anti-Chafe Balm’ is advocated for by many people who noticed it prevented chafing.
For example, you can apply an anti-chafe balm like this to your inner thigh area where the chafing normally occurs, and apply it before you take a long walk in the summer. Or, apply anti-chafe balm on your nipples if you’re a runner who finds chafing occurs there due to the friction of fabric while running.
The balm lubricates the area and minimizes skin rubbing that causes irritation and chafing. Think of it as a protective barrier that can prevent chafing even if you’re wearing short shorts or a skirt, because lubricating the area reduces friction.
Some people use petroleum jelly instead of anti-chafe balms, but you may as well get the real product.
Anti-Chafe Balms are inexpensive, ranging from $8 – $28. A low price tag for a high likelihood that you’ll prevent skin chafing.
3. Use Dusting Powder or Cornstarch
You should not use talc powder to prevent chafing, but you could use cornstarch or buy a dusting powder product such as the Burt’s Bees Baby Dusting Powder.
Cornstarch and other dusting powders have the ability to absorb the extra moisture from the skin caused by hot weather, humidity and sweat. Applying the powder also creates a soft and silky feeling on the skin that may help prevent friction and irritation.
In general, these powders help keep the skin dry, which can prevent skin chafing from occurring.
4. Wear Moisture-Wicking Fabrics
The wrong fabrics can cause chafing to occur as well. When you’re exercising, wear moisture-wicking fabrics, such as those made with synthetic fibers, or those sold at athletic stores. Ensure the clothing fits you properly. If it’s too loose on you, chafing could occur.
If you’re prone to chafing, do not exercise while wearing cotton. Ask your local sports or athleisure shop to point you in the direction of moisture-wicking clothing.
5. Dress Appropriately
If you’re doing a long hike in the heat, or going for a long run outside, consider what you’re wearing. For example, if you’re a man going for a run and you’re prone to nipple chafing from your shirt’s friction against your nipples while you run, consider running without a shirt. (But apply plenty of sunscreen first.) If you’re a woman with thighs that rub together and chafe while you hike, consider wearing longer shorts that are a moisture-wicking, high-quality fabric.
If certain poor-quality fabrics and poorly-fitted clothing items lead to chafing, it may be time to upgrade your closet with higher-quality fabrics, or start using anti-chafing balms.
Skin Chafing: The Bottom Line
If chafing has occurred, give your skin time to heal before exercising again. If more friction or rubbing occurs on the already irritated areas of the skin, it will just make it worse.
Clean and dry the area, and let the area breathe. Your healthcare provider may suggest a medicated ointment to apply.
Prevention is always better than a cure, so use the tips in this article to help prevent having to deal with skin chafing.
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