Ever been out running and feel a stinging sensation under your arms? Or when out cycling felt a burning sensation in your bikini line? It’s mostly likely chafing. Chafing is horrible, it can be anything from some slightly red irritated skin to a raw bloody scabby mess (apologies for the visual).
Chafe is caused by friction, the resistance between two or more things. This could be friction between skin to skin (like your thighs rubbing as you run) or your skin, clothing and your bike seat. Friction is more likely to happen with increased pressure or force like excessive running or cycling, heat (sweat), moisture or dryness. But, it doesn’t need to be inevitable even with these conditions. Here are some tried and tested solutions to help you beat the chafe.
These creams are specifically designed to help you avoid chafe by adding a barrier between your skin and the fabric of your clothes. Body Glide is more commonly used by runners while chamois creams are more commonly used for cycling. Chamois creams contain some form of anti-bacterial element which will help you avoid infection in the case you do suffer some chafe. Apply either cream on clean dry skin (very important) before exercising. If using a pot or tub be sure not to ‘double dip’ as you will be dipping any bacteria or dirt from your fingers back into the tub.
Use for:underarms, bikini line (and beyond), bra line and inner thigh.
Not often spoken about, however, the timing of shaving or waxing can be very helpful to avoid chafe and ingrown hairs. When you shave not only do you shave off the hair but some of the top layer of skin, essentially irritating and weakening the skin. Thus, these areas become more sensitive to friction. For best results, avoid shaving directly before exercising. Give your skin 2-3 days to ‘heal’ before excessive exercise like running. Or, go retro and release your inner feminist… let it grow and just do a simple ‘prune’ as needed.
Good tip for: bikini line, underarm and legs.
For areas like your feet, your first check is to ensure your shoes and socks fit properly. If these are right and you still suffer chafe or blisters, try using tape or anti-blister powder. Tape will add a protective layer between your foot and shoe. Try using Elastoplast classic tape, it comes in a red roll and the tape is fabric like in a skin tone colour. It’s almost waterproof so will stay on even with excessive sweat. Anti-blister powder will help to lubricate the area between your foot and shoe and will also absorb excessive moisture which can cause chafe.
Use for: feet.
Don’t be a brand snob but be a fabric snob when it comes to your training gear. Moisture-wicking or dry fit clothing will help to remove excess moisture and let your skin ‘breath’. Ensure a proper fit, clothing that is too loose or too tight will cause friction over time. This applies to all of your gear from cycling knicks to your underwear. Check the band of your bra, is it too loose? Check the underarm line of your singlet, does it move around and rub while running? Find what works for you – for me, I swear by seamless Jockey undies with grip sides (so they don’t move around) and dry fit fabrics.
Good tip for: bikini line, legs, underarms, feet and bra line.
Key tip: To keep your gear in tip-top shape wash it separately to your regular clothes and do not use fabric softener as this blocks the moisture wicking pores of the fabric. Line dry as tumble drying can also damage the fabric.
More for post exercise to help soothe chafed areas, however, can also be used as a lubricant similar to Body Glide or a chamois cream.
Use for: neck.
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