What the chaf?

June 05, 2011


Two years ago when I started running, I read (and heard) horror stories about chafing. Fortunately, for the past two years I've been chaff-free. That all changed about two months ago. In my post "If you can't stand the heat, you're not prepared", I mentioned that I'm perpetually dehydrated. This issue caught up with me. What is chafing? Chafing is caused by repeated motion — specifically, skin rubbing against loose fabric or other skin. Chafing most often occurs around the bra line (women), nipples (men), inner thighs, and under the arms. Moisture, either from sweat or rain, can worsen chafing. If you ever wondered why men run with no shirts, it's not because they are trying to chennel their inner sex symbol, but they are trying to prevent their nipples from falling off. My chafing issues happens to be my inner thighs and the back of my legs. Thankfully, there's plenty of methods and products on the market to help prevent irritation.Here's a few things ways to prevent it.
  1. Hydrate: Staying hydrated allows your body to perspire freely. When you stop perspiring, you body forms salt crystals which increases friction.
  2. Lubricate: In the words of BodyGlide, "Prevention is better than a cure". BodyGlide happens to be our go-to lube because it's uber effective. Not only that, but they have a formula especially for women, feet and a SPF balm. If you want to take the cost-effective route, good ol' Vaseline or powder works.
  3. Wick it: We often tell beginner runners, that running doesn't require much but good shoes, but different weather requires different clothing. Ditch anything you have 100% cotton and meet wicking, your new best friend. Moisture wicking material takes the moisture from your skin and moves it to the outside layer of your clothing to keep your skin dry. Wicking goes by several names such as "performance," "technical", "Nike Dri-Fit," "Under Armor Heat Gear." and the list goes on and on. Bras, shirts, pant/short/skirts should all contain some type of wicking material. Clothes should also fit snug to reduce the amount of skin to fabric friction.
  4. Change clothes: Guilty as charged. After weekend runs, I usually commence in errand-running, stinky, sweaty and all of the above. I've actually gotten a lot better about this though and take along a towel and change of clothes to dry off before I do anything. Drying your skin off after a run or working out is imperative, as wet, dirt and debris can cause friction.
While, there's many products on the market that help prevent the cumbersome ailment, there are a few things you can do to make chafing it better or "cure it". Clean the area with luke-warm water and soap. Be sure to keep the area dry and if possible don't wear anything that may cause more friction. I typically try to wear dresses to let the area breathe and get a chance to heal. Otherwise, cover with a dry gauze. I also apply aloe vera and/or Gold Bond powder. Some folks even use Destin (yes, the baby rash stuff). Have you ever experienced chafing? What's your go-to methods for prevention and tried and true cure?

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