The Ultimate Problem of Chafing for Athletes and How to Deal With It

When the temperature rises and humidity creeps up, you don’t get just red in the face. As an athlete, you would understand the discomfort and inconvenience associated with going on a long run or a cycling session on a particularly hot summer day and feeling that familiar burning sensation of chafing set in. If you have ever experienced the feeling of your thighs rubbing against each other as if they have brushed against a cheese grater, you know what chafing feels like.

One can only imagine the horrors of almost reaching the finish line and realizing that your shorts are streaked in blood. Chaffing is one of the most common types of skin concern faced by athletes. While it is easily prevented. Yet the kind of discomfort and pain it leaves you with is inexplicable if you don’t take steps to protect yourself.

What is Chafing and How Does It Happen?

Chafing is a kind of skin lesion caused by repetitive rubbing of the affected area. In scientific terms, chafing is a friction-induced skin injury where the outer layer of skin (epidermis) is rubbed, creating microscopic tears. These micro-tears expose the layer of skin below the dermis and make it susceptible to redness and irritation. The thighs, groin, underarms, under breast and nipples, are particularly vulnerable, but they can occur anywhere on your body. While chafing sounds and is most definitely painful, the athletes do not let it derail them from their path as they rely on the best anti-chafe techniques for runners to tackle the problem. The most preferred techniques include anti-chafing cream for runners, talc-like powder, and deodorant.

Why Are Runners and Cyclists More Susceptible to Chafing?

Runners, cyclists among other endurance athletes, are most likely to experience chaffing owing to repetitive movements, continuous skin-to-skin contact, and sweat. As athletes perspire, their skin becomes more prone to damage. Salt crystals form when sweat evaporates, adding grit that can cause more friction and chafing. The salt acts like sandpaper, grinding and irritating the skin. While chafing is often seen in the crevices of the body, with the crotch, armpits, under-breast area, and inner thighs being prime chafing areas, most runners also experience chafed nipples. If you remember the Fun Run episode of The Office, what  Andy Bernad experiences is a ‘runner’s nipple,’ which is essentially chafing around the nipples. 

While Ed Helm’s character uses tape and cotton to prevent scuffing, it isn’t exactly the best way to go. Anti-chafing cream for runners among a bevy of other anti-chafing gear serves as a  more effective way to treat and prevent the ailment for athletes. 

How To Prevent Chafing?

Stay Dry and Wear the Right Clothes 

While cotton is considered to be the best fabric to wear in summers, this cardinal rule does not apply to athletes.  For everyday needs, breathable cotton fabrics are an excellent option, as they absorb sweat and stay wet. So wear synthetic, sweat-wicking fabrics instead. The layers of clothing closest to the skin should be a moisture-wicking fabric, delivering sweat away from the body and minimizing rubbing or irritation.

Wear Proper Fit

There’s no refuting the fact that your workout clothes and gear should be as comfortable as they can get. The clothes you wear while cycling should be tight and snug. The excess material of a baggy t-shirt drenched in sweat can rub against your skin and cause skin lesions. So 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. 

Ensure Your Equipment Doesn’t Cause Chafing

Most often, the gear and equipment you carry while on the run or when cycling can also lead to skin 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. So to prevent friction, you should ensure that the band of these pieces of equipment is made of good quality fabric and, most importantly, is tight enough so that your gear isn’t bouncing around. You can also lubricate the area with anti-chafing cream to prevent further damage. 

Stay Hydrated

Keeping yourself hydrated during any sports activity is a no-brainer. When it comes to preventing chafed skin, staying hydrated while running lowers the salt concentration in your sweat, which further aids in minimizing friction. So make sure that you drink enough water to not only deal with fatigue but also to prevent chafing.  

Take Breaks

If you feel discomfort from your skin rubbing against itself get worse, stop what you are doing. Clean the area with soap and water (if available), pat dry, and bandage the area. It is imperative to understand how important it is to take breaks. If you are already chafed, treat the affected area like an open wound and consider taking some time off from the sports activity.

What Anti-Chafing Products Should You Invest In?

Deodorant

Yes, you read that right! Wearing deodorant and antiperspirants can help prevent chafing while you run – even in areas other than your underarms. By helping you keep your skin dry, a good antiperspirant prevents irritations caused by sweat. Additionally, a deodorant also acts as a lubricant that soothes the skin and reduces friction, thereby preventing your skin from chafing.

Anti-Chafing Creams

Natural anti-chafing creams are godsent for athletes, especially those with sensitive skin. Perhaps one of the easiest and most effective ways to treat chafing is using a cream that hydrates and protects the affected area. It is used by runners, triathletes, hikers, equestrians, skiers – anyone who experiences chafing and friction from skin on skin, fabric seams rubbing on skin, stiff boots, bra straps, or heat rash. One of the  best anti-chafe creams for runners is the one by CHAFE by bluerub. The natural anti-chafing cream is made of oils, butters, beeswax, essential oils, and plant extracts that help add a boost of hydration to dry skin and encourage healing for skin that needs it.

To get your hands on this cream, head over to bluerub’s website and check out the wide range of natural body care products for athletes.

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