Chafing is something most runners have come across at some point in their running endeavours, it’s like a rite of passage, albeit a horrible, uncomfortable one. No matter what the season or distance, there is always a risk of the red-raw and irritating feeling commonly found on the inner thighs, nipples and toes.
Some people are more prone to chafing than others, but unfortunately, nearly every runner will have experienced at some point, the sting of the post-run shower!
Luckily, there are some solutions to both help and treat chafing.
What is chafing?
Chafing occurs when the skin rubs against itself or your clothing, and over time, the increased friction causes the outer layer of exposed skin to become red, raw and irritated. Common areas for this to occur with runners would be the inner thighs, groin, armpits, under breasts, nipples and toes. However, chafing can occur anywhere on the body.
How to treat chafing
1. Proper Clothing
One of the most common causes of chafing is inappropriate clothing to run in. You may think that your loose top or favourite gym shorts are fine to wear, but all too often, they’re not!
Materials such as cotton are a bad choice when going for a run because they get wet easily, and once cotton is wet, it doesn’t dry easily…enter, friction!
Make sure your running clothing is made of a lycra, spandex or synthetic fabric with moisture wicking technologies that can help minimise rubbing and irritation.
Clothing with minimal seams and tags are also the go-to choice, especially in shorts and sports bras as these are prone to cause irritation.
2. Lube it up
Make sure to apply a sports ready anti-chafe lubricant, gel or balm to common chafe areas on your body. A cheap solution for this is Vaseline, however, since it contains petroleum jelly, it can cause staining to your clothes, which isn’t ideal. We will always recommend a proper lubricant such as BodyGlide as it is non-greasy, lasts all day, moisturises the skin and is sweat resistant…they even make one dedicated for women!
When running, keeping your fluids up and staying hydrated is so important to stay on top of. When you have fully hydrated, your body performs to its best ability when running, this includes the reduce risk of chafing.
Staying hydrated means you perspire freely and ensures that your sweat doesn’t dry and turn into microscopic salt crystals that cause increased friction. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your exercise.
4. Get Fitted
On top of actual performance apparel, having properly fitted clothing and footwear is extremely beneficial to help prevent chafing. A sports bra that is too tight can dig into the skin and one that is too loose can cause excess movement.
The same goes for t-shirts, any top with too much excess material can cause it to rub when it starts to get wet. Make sure to invest in proper underwear, socks (especially twin skins) and base layers with an ergonomic fit can make the difference night and day.
This also applies for your footwear, the impact of running causes the feet to swell, especially when it’s hot, so you need to ensure you have properly fitting shoes that can allow that extra bit of room while still providing the needed cushioning and support.
5. Get them covered!
Bloody nipples and sore blisters are the bain of a runners life. They also seem to occur at the most inopportune times. Nipguards are a firm favourite among runners to help stop nipple chafing and come with a 100% guarantee!
Blisters are usually caused by excess friction when you run, the first port of call is to reduce the friction to help prevent the blister. However, if a blister does occur, ensure it is properly cared for and then covered up using a blister plaster or zinc oxide tape.
Clean and Soothe
As soon as you can, clean the wound in the shower ensuring the water isn’t too hot. Use a mild soap to help wash out anything nasty that may have gotten into the cut…word of warning – this will sting.
Pat the area dry (do not rub dry) and apply a light layer of protective cream such as vaseline – Only use an anti-bacterial cream such as sudocrem if there is a sign of infection. Cover with a bandage or gauze, as this still allows the area to breathe while providing a protective coat.
A chafe will likely scab over and heal within a week. If you must continue to exercise, make sure it is protected and follow the points above.