How to stop, treat and prevent chafing

Pre-Run Food

How to stop, treat and prevent chafing.

Ah, the terrible word we all hate to hear, see or feel…chafing. As runners, or anyone who takes part in physical activity may know, chafing sucks.

Chafing is painful, itchy, unattractive to look at and let’s say it again for good measures, it hurts. If you’re out and about and start feeling a burning sensation on your skin, you might be experiencing chafing. Chafing can be caused by a combination of moisture, friction and irritating fabric, but there are several other reasons like hydration that could play into account.

Chafing usually happens on body parts that rub against each other or your clothes. Common chafing areas include your thighs, buttocks, groin, nipples, feet and armpits. But don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely possible in all or most body parts.

Your skin is your largest organ and it is vital to your body to protect your insides.  Skin is strong and flexible for that reason, to protect your internal organs from germs, heat and physical harm.

Skin needs to be dry, clean and have the correct amount of body oil or lotion to prevent chafing.

Common Causes

You’re more likely to develop chafing on body parts that rub against each other or your clothing. Chafing commonly occurs on the thighs and buttocks. The nipples, groin, feet, and armpits can also chafe. Repeated moisture and rubbing can make the skin more vulnerable to breaking down.

Running and other sorts of physical activity can be the main cause of chaffing, athletes can develop chafing anywhere that the clothing or skin rubs on the skin.

Another reason you might be chafing is you’re overweight.

Breastfeeding mothers commonly develop chafing when they’re nursing. Children in diapers often chafe from the material of the diapers.

Ill-fitting clothing can chafe if your sleeves, waistband or bra straps repeatedly rub your skin, causing it to be irritated.

How to stop chafing?

You might not want to stop the activity you’re doing but it’s the safest thing to do. If you keep exercising without treating the chafe, it’s going to get worse and it’s going to hurt even more than it already does. An easy fix would be to change your clothes into something more suitable for the time being, but that’s not going to resolve the chafing instantly.

We suggest applying a soothing cream, oil or balm like aloe vera. You definitely want something that is fragrance free and make sure it repels moisture.

Fresh air often helps ease the pain of chafing as well. What I like to do is sit outside, legs up and just let the breeze naturally chill the chafe.

If you’re not able to treat the chafe yourself, or if it’s extremely painful, go see a doctor. They can provide a topical cream that may help or can possibly recommend something suited to your skin type.

To prevent chafing when you feel it starting, pat the skin dry in the affected area and apply a product like petroleum jelly.


Chafing should heal within a couple of days if the problem is removed. If you don’t want to or can’t stop what caused the chafing, make sure you protect yourself. Let the skin heal overnight by letting it breath. If the chafing is on your legs, sleep in shorts instead of pants and avoid allowing your legs to rub together.

While your skin is recovering:

Do not try to clean chaffed skin with hydrogen peroxide or iodine, as these chemicals can hinder the healing process. Instead, clean with mild soap and water or just a saline solution.

Do not shower in extremely hot water or use harsh soaps, both of which make the skin overly dry and more susceptible to damage.

Always pat skin dry. Rubbing will make chafing worse.

Use ice or a cold pack for short amounts of time to relieve pain. Be sure to pat dry when you’re done.


Chafing breaks the skin’s protective barrier against germs and infection. If your chafing goes beyond mild redness and chapped skin, see a doctor. Signs that you need medical attention include bleeding, discoloration, swelling, crust.


Preventing chafing is relatively simple, though it takes time and requires frequent attention.

It may be difficult to prevent completely if you regularly participate in activities that cause chafing. But there are still steps you can take to reduce its severity and keep it from getting worse. The following are some methods you can use to help prevent chafing.


Antiperspirant can prevent sweating before it causes a problem. And deodorant often contains moisturizers to protect your skin.

If you have an area prone to chafing or you’re worried that an activity may lead to it, apply a thin layer of deodorant to the area before beginning the activity. For example, if you often experience chafing along your inner thighs when wearing a skirt, apply a thin layer of deodorant to your thighs before leaving the house.


Creams, oils, and powders can provide a layer of protection and reduce friction. You’re less likely to chafe if the skin can glide smoothly. Powder may be less effective than lotion. That’s because it can clump and make chafing worse.

Moisture-wicking clothing

Materials like cotton retain sweat and moisture and keep your skin damp. This dampness increases your risk of friction and chafing.

Wear clothes that “breathe” and let the sweat evaporate off your skin, especially while exercising. Running tights and other sport-specific clothing can protect skin when you’re active. You can also wear bike shorts underneath a skirt to prevent thigh skin from rubbing together.

Properly fitting clothes

Clothes that are too big can move a lot and chafe skin by continually rubbing. Pay special attention to the fit of shoes, your shirt across your chest, and your pants at the waistline.

Soft bandages

For specific areas that flare up often, you can prevent chafing by adding a “second skin” of soft bandage. This is especially helpful on feet, inner-thighs, and nipples.

Air-drying and pads for nursing mothers

If you’re nursing, keep your nipples clean, dry, and away from any irritating fabric. Look for soft nursing bras. Some have built-in nursing pads. You can also purchase reusable or disposable pads that you can insert into your bra cups to help absorb extra moisture.

Remove wet clothes

Take your swimsuit off shortly after swimming so as not to keep the tight, wet fabric right on your skin. You should change out of other clothing that’s become saturated as soon as possible. That may include clothing that’s wet from sweat, getting stuck in a rainstorm, or wading through a river.

Plan for the weather

Consider working out when it’s cooler outside, such as morning or evening. That may help you sweat less and keep your skin and clothing drier.