Summer is here and that means more sweat, more skin on skin contact and more chafed, raw, burning skin. If you chafe when you run, you’re not alone. And it’s not a pretty thing.
Did you know chafed skin is actual raw skin? Friction removes the top, layer of skin cells, creating a definitely-not-welcome painful situation. This leaves your skin open to infection from dirt and bacteria.
Chafing occurs anywhere on your body, but the thighs, groin, underarms, neck, and nipples are particularly vulnerable. Skin-on-skin contact and clothing-on-skin can both cause friction so you'll want to address both skincare and clothing solutions. You can also use on your feet to help prevent hot spots.
Prevention is the key to not letting friction ruin your race or training day. A few simple pre-run steps can make a big difference in your fight to keep your skin healthy and ready for the next day.
Keep Dry. Keep a towel handy if you can to keep your skin dry throughout an intense workout. In addition, you'll want to avoid cotton clothes and focus on moisture-wicking gear. Don't forget to check your socks to be sure they, too, are moisture-wicking. A good pair of Coolmax socks can make a difference. If you're running in the rain or snow, you'll want breathable rain gear to help you stay dry. If your clothes get wet, get out of them as soon as you can.
Use Lubricant. Lubricants help reduce friction by providing a thin layer of protect on your skin. Lubricants help ensure skin slips instead of grabs. It can also reduce the heat generated by skin-on-skin rubbing together. Think how different your hands feel when they are dry and rubbing together vs. after you’ll applied a massage oil or cream.
In addition to adding slip, the protection from an anti-chafe product, like bluerub’s CHAFE adds moisturize and hydrate to further protect sensitive skin. Use before you lace up your shoes and touch up as needed if hot-spots develop on your run.
Not all lubricants are created equal, though. Look for natural, non-petroleum based ingredients like castor oil, which is a natural alternative to silicone. Aloe vera, beeswax, and shea butter also provide a protective barrier while moisturizing and hydrating. You want a product that will go on easily, last long enough, and will rinse off easily. Some products will even work post-workout to help provide relief to the chapped and chaffed areas. Try bluerub's CHAFE
which has only natural ingredients that are good for your skin and good for the environment.
Check your Fit. Wear proper-fitting, moisture-wicking running clothes, such as those made with synthetic fibers. Remove any tags that rub you the wrong way, and check for seams that create hot spots. You can apply a CHAMOIS or CHAFE around the under your bra to help reduce friction or under your arms where seams can rub you the wrong way. That said, reducing friction points from your clothing is your best bet. We also recommend you don't wear new clothes on race day!
Raw, blistered, chapped skin is not just painful but can lead to infection and skin breakdown if not treated right. If you do end up with chafed skin, first you'll want to gently clean the chafed area with warm water and pat it thoroughly dry. Once dry, apply a product like bluerub's CHAFE or a diaper cream or other protective balm.
Do not use products on affected areas that contain essential oils like mint, pepper, capsicum, menthol, camphor, or any other ingredients that create a sense of warmth or coolness. Balms or lotions that contain lavender, helichrysum, or chamomile are probably safe, but you'll want to test an area before you go all in.
If you end up with chaffed skin, give your skin some time to heal. Switch up your running with something that won’t aggravate the affected area. Avoid the swimming pool and the ocean — chlorine and salt water will aggravate you. Just like you need to heal from pulled muscles and other injuries, skin injuries require rest, too. Continued friction will only make it worse and could lead to infection.
If the chafed area is very painful, swollen, bleeding, or crusted, check with your health provider to see if you need something medicated to help prevent infection.
If your skin does not improve with these self-care measures, see your health provider.
Some runners don’t chafe but most do and using an effective anti-chafe product will keep you running longer, recover faster, and keep moving.
|Growing up in Southern California, Val played competitive softball (coached by her father), was a gymnast, swimmer, ran cross country, fished, hiked, kayaked, and as an adult, experimented in rock climbing and golf. In 2010 she was diagnosed with a rare cancer; a liposarcoma was growing on her sciatic nerve. Once this tumor was removed, she has been cancer-free!
Left with significant nerve damage, she now has limited mobility. Yet still moves and engages in the world around her. She snorkels, walks, travels, and practices yoga to combat chronic pain and to maximize her ability to keep moving. She works with a personal trainer, acupuncturist, physical therapist, and massage therapist to maximize her mobility.
She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and her dog and gets her fins on so she can swim with the fish any time she can.