It’s such a common occurrence: Your inner thighs are raw, red, and uncomfortable after a day of (sweaty!) fun in the sun. Or perhaps your sports bra straps are burning like crazy when you return from your Zumba class.
Yes, you are experiencing skin chafing, a rash-like inflammation known medically as intertrigo that develops when wet skin rubs against wet skin or clothing. According to Ope Ofodile, M.D., M.P.H., a cosmetic and medical dermatologist at Dermatology and Surgery Specialists of North Atlanta, it is “especially heightened during exercise or other activities that require long periods of movement.”
It frequently occurs in skin creases where sweat collects, such as the groin, the armpits, beneath the breasts, and between the legs, particularly after exercising or walking. Chafing can also be made worse by wearing tight or loose clothing, long distance cycling or jogging, hot temperatures, and sensitive skin.
Itching, red, irritated skin, burning, stinging, and perhaps even bleeding or swelling are the most typical symptoms of skin chafing. And since moist, raw skin encourages bacteria overgrowth, a skin infection may result.
Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, claims that friction and small wounds caused by moisture cause skin discomfort.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin chafing can result in painful blisters in more serious situations. Contact your doctor right away, advises Dr. Ofodile, if you discover the region is severely inflamed, looks infected, or doesn’t get better in five to seven days.
This season, do you want to avoid chafed skin, or at least minimize its severity? Follow the following recommendations from a dermatologist:
How to treat and soothe skin chafing?
Smear on a barrier repair cream.
Mona Gohara, M.D., an associate clinical professor in the department of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, suggests this dual-purpose skin lotion to her patients who have chafing. You can use it to both prevent and treat chafing. It functions as a kind of super-moisturizer that aids in healing wounds and irritation like chafing as well as preventing the skin from losing too much moisture. Dr. Gohara advises using it immediately after getting out of the shower; try Avene Cicalfate+.
Cleanse with care.
Wash irritated areas with a mild body wash or just lukewarm water to reduce fungal growth and soothe irritation from dried sweat. If you can, let the inflamed skin air out for a short while to ensure that all moisture has been removed before patting dry, don’t rub. Dr. Rokhsar advises that you “might even dry the area with a fan or a blowdryer set on cool.” Then, says Dr. Ofodile, apply petroleum jelly or a topical with zinc to help soothe and prevent further irritation.
Calm it with ointments.
Apply a zinc oxide ointment or balm, such as Aquaphor Healing Ointment or Eucerin Original Healing Cream, twice daily to chafed skin to soothe the abrasion and repair damaged skin. Try applying a topical over-the-counter corticosteroid twice daily for three days if you need something stronger for a one-time incident, then taper off and stop using it before the two-week mark. Due to possible side effects like thinning skin, stretch marks, and spider veins, Dr. Rokhsar advises against using steroids for an extended period of time.
Consider medical options.
If you have hyperhidrosis, which causes excessive sweating, you may have chafing. Hyperhidrosis can be treated with oral medications, prescription-strength aluminium chloride antiperspirants, Botox injections in the troublesome areas, or the FDA-approved MiraDry procedure, which eliminates sweat glands in the underarm region. Speak with your dermatologist, who can determine your best course of office treatment.
How to prevent skin chafing?
Interrupt the friction.
Applying petroleum jelly or another thick, slick product to chafe-prone areas decreases friction and guards against abrasion. According to Temitayo Ogunleye, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, “Products with silicone, beeswax, or shea butter provide the same benefit.” Avoid using oily lotions because they won’t last as long. According to Dr. Ogunleye, “you want a product that you have to scoop out of the jar or is specially formulated for chafing.” Reapply in three hours if necessary.
Try an antiperspirant.
In order to avoid sweating and hyperpigmentation, Dr. Gohara advises his patients to use an antiperspirant or deodorant on the inner thighs. “My favourite is Dove Even Tone, which evens out the skin using niacinamide.” Skin discoloration known as hyperpigmentation can develop over time in chafing-prone areas.
Additionally, you can use over-the-counter antiperspirants like Certain Dri, which contain the sweat-blocking ingredient aluminium chloride, in any moisturizing skin fold, not just under the armpits. Before engaging in any activity, apply a thin layer and let it dry. To help further wick away moisture and guard against infections, think about adding an anti-fungal powder (like this one), but keep it away from orifices meant to be moist, such as the vagina. According to Dr. Ofodile, there are even antiperspirant wipes that you can carry with you and use on your thighs or other problem areas.
Wear protective clothing.
When it comes to chafed skin, moisture-retaining cotton is not your friend; instead, go for synthetic materials like polyester or Lycra that are less absorbent. Remove any interior tags; this helps to prevent skin irritation. Look for clothing with flat seams or that is seamless. Wearing tight, moisture-wicking athletic clothing, such as sports bras and compression shorts (slip them on under a flowy dress), can reduce friction and create a barrier between two surfaces of skin or between skin and clothing, even when you’re not exercising.
Dr. Ofodile advises that you remove your sweat-stained clothes as soon as you can in order to allow your moist skin to breathe.