Chaffing is a (miserable) fact of summer. Whether the cause is jogging shorts that ride up, skin-on-skin friction or the underside of a bra, with just a few rubs, skin can become red, hot, inflamed, and, in severe cases, even bleed. So when something rubs you the wrong way, try these 11 strategies.
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1) Choose natural fibers. No matter what your sport, synthetic uniforms may be more durable, but when it comes to chafing, cotton is the fabric of choice.
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2) Wash, then wear. Wash any new exercise clothes before you wear them to help soften the fabric enough to lessen abrasion.
3) Wrap it up. People who are overweight or who have big thighs, which makes chafing more likely, may find relief by wrapping elastic bandages around the portions of their legs that rub, says Tom Barringer, MD. These bandages will shield the skin when your thighs rub together, so instead of skin against skin, the rubbing will be fabric against fabric. But be sure the elastic bandages are secure so that they don't move across the skin.
4) Wear tights. A pair of athletic tights or Lycra cycling shorts are snug, yet they stretch and cause no friction against the skin, says Dr. Barringer.
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5) Grease your body. If you're experiencing chafing from clothing, Audrey Kunin, MD, recommends trying a silicone or cyclomethicone gel. You can apply it on your inner thighs, under your arms, or beneath a sports bra-wherever clothing rubs, she says.
6) Roll on relief. Most running stores carry sticks of roll on lubricant that you can rub on before an activity that may lead to raw skin. "These work quite well," says Randy Wexler, MD.
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7) Keep your skin dry. If excess moisture is the source of the irritation you are experiencing, try to keep the area as dry as possible, Dr. Kunin says. "Dry the area that is chafing, be it skin folds or your breasts, with a hair dryer on the cool setting to circulate some air there whenever possible," she says.
8) Smooth things out. Cornstarch gives a double whammy to chafing-it keeps skin dry and helps heal the irritated area, says Georgianna Donadio, PhD. So sprinkle on the cornstarch to prevent and treat chafing. For extra lubrication and protection, Dr. Donadio suggests smearing a little petroleum jelly over the cornstarch.
9) Find powder power. Your mother may have used this remedy when you were a child. An old tried and true treatment for chafing, baby powder works as a lubricant, just the way petroleum jelly does. It helps the skin slip past other skin without the friction that can lead to a rash, says Dr. Kunin. If you don't like powdery floors, sprinkle the powder into the middle of a large, soft, white handkerchief, and tie the corners. Then, use the sack of powder like a powder puff. It will leave powder on you, not on the floor.
10) Block it with a bandage. Simply block the rub with an adhesive bandage. Runners, for example, use bandages over nipples to prevent rubbing.
11) Lose weight. Overweight people may find chafing a regular problem until they lose a little girth, says Dr. Kunin. "This type of chafing usually happens when heavy skin folds rub on each other," she says.
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