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Chafing: How to prevent it, how to treat it

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You had your best workout in a while, the music was on point, the new gym outfit was perfect, and, according to your fitness tracker, you set a new record for calories burned in a workout. You get to the shower and then it hits you: the burning. You’re chafed. So much for the perfect workout. While this may be a new experience or you consider yourself a seasoned veteran when it comes to dealing with the red, raw and sore skin, the great news is it doesn’t always have to be that way if you are willing to make some clothing adjustments or apply some preventive care.

Function over fashion

Most chafing can be prevented simply by wearing properly fitting clothing. Clothes that are too loose or too tight are common culprits. Other hot spots in clothing can be raised seams that can rub against your skin, or a clothing tag that, over the course of an intense workout, can become another area where chafing may occur. Buy shoes that don’t give you any discomfort on initial fitting. Leave room for your toes to have freedom to move naturally. Test the shoe in store by running in place, jumping and hopping side to side to check for heel slipping and lateral stability. Give your shoes time to break in before taking them for that long run, or they become your everyday shoes.

Thigh rub and anti-chafing products

Big thighs or small thighs, not a single body type is immune from chaffing on the inner thigh. Newbies and even elite athletes can get skin irritation. Usually, a slight change in clothing style can remedy most of these issues, but if the problems persist, anti-chafing products such as body glide or even petroleum jelly can work wonders.

Underarm rash

Long-distance runners probably have some experience with underarm chafing and rashes, but coming from a background of long-distance running in addition to long-distance open water swims and hours a day spent surfing, I know the pain that can associated with the burning from under your arm. This again can be prevented or reduced, using anti-chafing products instead of normal deodorant, which can actually add to the irritation. Also, skip tanks and sleeveless tops. Short-sleeve, fitted shirts will add a fabric buffer between your skin and help avoid friction on those steamy south Louisiana runs.

Let it heal

The biggest reason chafing continues to plague some people is that they don’t want to take time off from the exercise that is causing the chafing. So, despite sensitive skin, they’ll keep ticking off miles, swimming laps or taking multiple group fitness classes daily. Take a day off, do some cross training and give your skin, which is the largest organ of your body, time to heal completely. Finally, if your skin is rubbed raw and bleeding or shows any signs of infection, please consult a medical professional.


Remember why you started your journey into fitness: For most of you it was to create and maintain a healthier lifestyle and to take care of your body. Try to keep that in mind when you take a day off or choose to reduce the volume or intensity of your training to build a stronger and healthier you.

Learn more about Ochsner Fitness Center.


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