Most runners have experienced chafing somewhere on their body. Chafing happens when friction occurs repeatedly, rubbing the skin raw. Some runners notice chafing during their run. Some don’t realize they’ve been chafed until they’re showering afterward, when the mere contact with water on skin creates a painful, burning sensation. There are easy ways to treat chafed spots. Even better, there are ways to prevent chafing altogether.
Chafing is caused by repetitive friction. Chafing can happen on or around the skin of the armpits, inner thighs, waist, chest, lower leg—anywhere on the body where excessive friction occurs enough to rub the skin raw.
Friction against clothing like an ill-fitting hydration belt or pack, a seam on a pair of shorts that hits you in a bad spot, or even a seemingly harmless shirt can also be the culprit.
If a runner has discovered chafing while on the run, and doesn’t have any lube with them, the best bet is to try to remove the cause of the chafing. Run shirtless if the shirt that’s rubbing the wrong way. If the shorts or tights are causing pain on your skin, try rolling or adjusting the waistband or leg openings to remove the point of friction.
Once the run is complete and all clothing and gear can be removed, clean the affected area with water. Apply an antibiotic ointment. Leave the area uncovered to let air aid in healing the skin, if possible. If the area continues to chafe under clothes, then cover with a loose bandage (make sure to do this after applying an ointment). The area should scab over within a day or two.
Lube of any sort—like BodyGlide or Vaseline (but know that Vaseline can stain your clothes)—is the best form of prevention against chafing. However, no runner wants to lube their entire body before a run. If you know certain parts of your body are prone to chafing, apply lube to that spot before a run, and try to identify and eliminate the cause. For specific chafed spots, try these preventative measures:
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