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How to Prevent and Treat Skin Chafing

Adults doing squats in the gym

So you started a new exercise program. Way to go! You’re making serious efforts to improve your physical and mental health, even your quality of life — and you should be proud of yourself.

However, you might be experiencing a few negative side effects of the new routine, making it harder to feel proud and easier to feel, well, annoyed. Sore muscles you might expect, but if your skin starts chafing? That may be an irritation you weren’t ready for, and certainly one you don’t want to deal with. Luckily, there are ways to prevent and treat skin chafing.

What is Chafing, Exactly?

Chafing develops when areas of skin rub together repetitively in a warm, moist environment, producing an uncomfortable or painful irritation. Whether you’ve been attending Zumba classes regularly, going for runs outdoors or hitting the elliptical a few times a week, if you notice red patches of skin that are tender or painful, you might have skin chafing. The repetitive motion that accompanies physical exercise, coupled with increased body temperature or warm weather and sweat, can make chafing a common result of new (or endurance) exercise routines.

Surprisingly, chafing can be dangerous. A bad case can lead to infection, so it’s important to treat this rash whenever it pops up. Taking proper steps when exercising will prevent future cases of skin chafing.

If You Have Skin Chafing

If you notice red, painful areas of skin — often on the insides of the thighs or anywhere else skin or clothing rubs against skin — you might already have chafing. There are a couple of ways to treat this condition:

Keep it clean. After exercising, shower immediately in lukewarm water, using antibacterial soap. Chafing leaves your skin exposed, making it susceptible to bacterial infections. Make it a priority to prevent this by keeping the area clean.

Apply topical ointments. Applying a topical ointment to the affected area serves double duty by soothing the painful rash and preventing bacterial infections. Antibacterial diaper rash creams that contain zinc oxide will provide a barrier to moisture, kill bacteria and soothe the chafing all at once.

To Prevent Skin Chafing

Preventing chafing is easy and will ensure a much more enjoyable exercise routine. Without worrying about antibiotic diaper rash creams, you can focus on increasing your mileage or moving up to that next-level Yoga class. Follow these simple steps to prevent chafing:

Wear non-cotton, proper-fitting clothing. Clothing that’s too tight or too loose can cause chafing, and cotton tends to hold moisture. Opt for well-fitting clothing made of moisture-wicking material. You’ll have less clothing rubbing or digging into your skin, and this exercise-minded fabric will keep sweat off your skin. For chafing-prone thighs, compression shorts or leggings can prevent chafing completely by acting as a physical barrier.

Keep skin moisturized. Skin that’s moisturized is less likely to suffer from chafing, so use lotion a couple times a day to help prevent this painful rash. If you’re still encountering chafing or are running or biking long distances, apply a lubricant like petroleum jelly to chafing-prone areas.

If you take the proper steps, chafing doesn’t need to be a side effect of exercise. These suggestions for treating and preventing skin chafing will ensure you stay happy and healthy on the trails or in the gym. See you there!
Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

Cheryl Malik

Cheryl Malik is a food writer, photographer, and recipe developer. Her food blog, 40 Aprons, is known for her quirky voice and balanced recipes. She lives in Memphis with her husband, son, and dog, Magnolia.

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Filed under: Mind & Body


Cheryl Malik is a food writer, photographer, and recipe developer. Her food blog, 40 Aprons, is known for her quirky voice and balanced recipes. She lives in Memphis with her husband, son, and dog, Magnolia.

WellTuned provides inspiration and practical advice for healthy living.
WellTuned does not offer medical advice. Any personal health questions should be addressed to your doctor.

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