How to Prevent Exercise-Related Chafing

Chafing is essentially a case of adult diaper rash, an irritation that can crop up anywhere your clothing touches your skin. For example, during a bike ride your legs may feel great, and you may have barely broken a sweat, yet you can’t continue because your butt is rubbed raw. It’s particularly common in hot weather, when heavy sweating contributes to the problem.

Every sport has special hot spots to look out for. The bra line, underarms, and sock line are the most common among runners. But you can also get chafed if your tights, shorts, or shirt rub against your skin as you move. Only streakers are immune.

Here are some tips to help prevent chafing:

  • Experiment with fabrics and cuts of clothing that don’t irritate your skin. Softer fabrics that include at least some cotton tend to be the kindest to your skin, but it’s a matter of personal preference.

  • Before your workout, try greasing up your hot spots with Vaseline or with a product like Sportslick or BodyGlide, all-purpose skin lubricants that last longer than Vaseline and won’t come off until you wash with soap and water. (Check with your local running or walking store; some all-purpose sporting-goods stores also carry these products.)

  • Long-distance cyclists also slather their butts with udder balm, an ointment made for cows but helpful for reducing chafing in humans. It feels kind of icky, but it usually does the trick.

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