How To Stop Groin Chafing From Running Your Summer
Chafing is a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean we have to sit back and tolerate it. There is not a man in the world who doesn’t know the specific hell of chafing, but if you’re especially active, it could be something you have to deal with more often than not. The combination of moisture and friction is a recipe for irritated and uncomfortable skin in mild cases and welts and sores in extreme ones. But while chafing is a fact of life, there is plenty we can do to treat and prevent chafing in the groin area and everywhere else.
Common Chafing Areas
If you know where chafing might happen, you can take measures to lubricate those areas before walking, running, cycling, or doing other exercises.
What Is Chafing?
Most chafing happens where there is skin-to-skin contact, like the groin or inner thigh area most common among men or arm pits. It can also happen places like your nipples, where clothing can aggressively rub against skin, like in the case of distance runners. Doctors call it intertrigo, which basically means inflammation in the areas of skin that are touching each other. “What is chafing but disruption and damage to our skin barrier,” says dermatologist Kenneth Howe, MD. Mild chafing shows up as red, irritated, uncomfortable skin but some cases can open the area up to infection from bacteria or yeast.
What Causes Male Chafing?
“Some people are predisposed to chafing because they just have sensitive skin,” says Dr. Howe. “Another factor is hairiness, which can present a problem.” It seems counterintuitive since you’d think hair would prevent skin-to-skin contact, but Dr. Howe notes it goes to the root of what causes chafing in the first place. “Perspiration makes the skin surfaces tacky so they don’t slide against each other properly,” he says. In addition to chafing, hairy areas could also become inflamed , which can make chafing worse and possibly get infected.
Tactics to Prevent Chafing
Prevention of chafing falls into four categories: staying hydrated, staying dry, using a lubricant, and wearing appropriate clothing.
Drink lots of water before, during, and after your walk, run, ride, or other workouts. This will allow you to perspire freely so the perspiration doesn’t dry into salt crystals that can enhance the chafing.
Use an absorbent body powder, cornstarch, or potato starch to stay dry in any areas where you have crevices under the breast, crotch, armpits, fat rolls.
Note that there is a concern that talcum powder may increase the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer, so you should avoid using it in the genital area.
Look for unscented powders if you are sensitive to the perfumes often added to these products. If your clothing gets wet during a workout, switch to dry gear.
Walkers, runners, and cyclists use a variety of anti-chafing lubricants to keep the skin areas sliding past each other instead of rubbing each other raw. Plain old petroleum jelly is the standby choice. You can apply it liberally before your workout.
Take a Break From Physical Activity and Clean the Area
If you notice chafing while you’re working out or doing any other kind of physical activity, take a break from it. “Don’t work out or don’t do the exercise that led to it for a while,” says Dr. Howe. You need to give your body a chance to recover instead of pushing through. You should also thoroughly clean and dry the area before doing anything else.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Loose clothes may feel good on the trail and during workouts, but to prevent chafing you need a snug fit. Bike shorts or compression shorts are designed to give a skin-tight fit that will prevent chafing for the lower body or thigh area.
If you have experienced chafed thighs, use the prevention tactics in these ways:
- Keep the area dry. You can use non-talcum absorbent body powder or a sports powder to ensure extra protection.
- Choose spandex tights or light compression shorts that will protect your skin. Shorts should be long enough to cover any areas that have chafed in the past. Be sure they have flat seams or are seamless. Running skirts often have these shorts built-in. They should be made of sweat-wicking fabric not cotton if you are going to be exercising and sweating.
- Wear shorts under looser shorts, pants, or a sports skirt if you prefer. But be sure your combination fits well without fabric that ends up producing unwanted bunching and rubbing.
- Use a lubricant on the spots that are prone to chafing before you put on the tights or compression shorts if you still have chafing problems.
Moisturize the Chafed Area
Even though chafing can be caused by perspiration and moisture, protecting the skin with good moisture can help soothe pain. Apply a gentle and bland moisturizing lotion to the area as needed to help calm down irritation and manage the pain. Avoid lotions that contain fragrance or active ingredients “that do things like exfoliate or have anti-aging properties,” says Dr. Howe. They won’t help in this situation and will “just be annoying.”
Opt for clothes made of cotton or some other breathable material
Wear cotton whenever you can. Fancy polyester shirts and denim trousers may be tempting, but they can trap heat and cause you to sweat which can trigger chafing. Cotton dresses, shorts, and shirts are easy to find in a variety of styles as well. Giving your skin room to breathe is the best way to give the skin time to repair naturally.
Try Apply Tea Tree Oil to Chafed Skin
“A lot of people use tea tree oil and that could actually be quite helpful for chafing,” notes Dr. Howe. Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that could help treat the underlying causes of chafing. Apply a few drops of the oil to the area with a cotton pad or mix a few drops with some coconut oil to help moisturize the area as well.
Apply aloe vera to the skin to minimize pain if necessary
If your chafing has moved from irritating to painful, grab some aloe vera. Rub a pea-sized drop of aloe vera directly into your skin using smooth, circular motions. The menthol in aloe vera will soothe the pain from the sensitive skin.
Drink plenty of water to replenish fluids and dilute your sweat
The more water you drink, the less salt and minerals your sweat will contain. Drink at least 4-5 glasses of water a day to keep your skin looking and feeling great. You’re much less likely to chafe in the future if you stay well hydrated.
Trim Your Body Hair to Prevent Chafing
Since sometimes body hair can make chafing worse or can lead to other issues like folliculitis, Dr. Howe recommends trimming the hair around chafe-prone areas. Use a body hair trimmer to trim it regularly to help cut down on the rub, but don’t completely shave it, since bare skin can also chafe easily when it rubs against other bare skin. Yes, it’s a fine line.
See your doctor if your irritation doesn’t clear up with home treatment
Most of the time, chafing can be easily treated at home with simple remedies and lifestyle changes. If your chafing just won’t go away even after several days of home care, talk to your doctor. It’s possible that you’ve developed an infection in the broken skin, in which case they can prescribe an antibacterial or antifungal ointment that can help.
Call your doctor if you have a condition that makes you vulnerable to infections
Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, can increase your risk of developing skin infections if your skin becomes irritated or broken. If not treated properly, these infections can lead to serious complications.
Discuss medical treatments for conditions that make chafing worse
Some medical conditions, such as excessive sweating which is called hyperhidrosis, can make you more prone to chafing. Talk to your doctor about how you can treat the underlying cause of your chafing if it won’t go away on its own or constantly comes back.