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Five ways to banish painful chafing in summer

The combination of sweat, heat and friction in the warmer months can lead to painful chafing that can be identified by a painful red rash.

Chafing can occur anywhere, but it’s most common between the thighs, armpits, nipples, and groin. You can get chafing from just walking around, but it’s especially common with activities like running, cycling, and sports.

Some people are embarrassed by chafing, but there’s no need to suffer in silence as there are actions that you can take to prevent chafing and to treat it if it does occur.

Try using anti-perspirant or anti-chafe products

If you get chafing under your arms, it’s likely that you’re already using an anti-perspirant deodorant. However, you may also wish to try applying anti-perspirant between the thighs if that’s where you’re chafing.

Because chafing occurs from the repeated rubbing of sweaty skin, anti-persiprant can be effective in preventing chafing. If you already have chafing, even if it’s mild, you may wish to choose a sensitive formula to reduce the likelihood of irritation. If you’re someone with sensitive skin or an existing rash, you may wish to test a small patch of skin in the area first to check for any signs or irritation.

Another option is a specific anti-chafing product which is available as sticks, rubs, creams or powders. These products act as a layer between the two points of the skin, helping to ease friction and/or keep the area dry.

Choose anti-chafing fabrics

Fabrics which are labelled as ‘sweat-wicking’ use special fabrics that are designed to draw moisture away from the skin.

Keeping the skin free of sweat is key in preventing chafing, so wearing sweat-wicking fabrics (usually synthetic fabrics) can help, especially when you’re exercising.

On the other hand, some people find that loose-fitting, breathable clothing in cotton fabrics can help to regulate body temperature and reduce chafing.

Try a few different options and see what works for you.

Wear protective layers

Typically you don’t want to layer up your clothing in the warmer months, but wearing a protective garment under your clothing can help keep chafing under control.

For chafing on the thighs or groin, a garment like bicycle shorts can help by placing a layer of smooth fabric between the two points that rubbing, reducing friction, and therefore, chafing.

If you experience chafing on the nipples, it may be worth investing in nipple shields or guards which can be worn under the clothing undetected.

For the underarms, look for clothing that is seamless or fits snug against the armpit without bunching.

Avoid fragrances and harsh ingredients

If your skin is even the slightest bit irritated, you’re much more likely to experience chafing.

This is because the skin is already sensitive and possibly inflamed, so it is more prone to irritation from sweat and friction.

Try switching to fragrance-free or sensitive versions of products like body wash, laundry detergent and moisturiser to keep irritation to a minimum.

Keep stubble to a minimum

If you shave your armpits, thighs, or pubic hair, you may experience chafing as the hair begins to grow back.

Short, blunt hairs (or stubble) increase friction, which leads to chafing. Try keeping the hair slightly longer or freshly shaved to help ease the friction.

Treating chafing

If you’re already suffering from chafing, there are a few things you can do for relief. Firstly, avoid using any harsh products on the area, and instead choose fragrance-free and sensitive formulations. Aloe vera gel can be especially soothing, especially if you store it in the fridge.

When bathing, avoid using very hot water and try lukewarm or cool water instead. Choose a gentle cleanser and avoid scrubbing the area. When drying off, gently pat the area instead of rubbing it.

An ice pack can also provide relief, but be sure to wrap it in a tea towel or cloth first and avoid placing the ice directly on the skin.

An anti-inflammatory cream (combined with an antifungal agent) is available from your pharmacist and is often helpful on severe, red, inflamed chafing rashes.

Your local Capital Chemist pharmacist can recommend products and treatments that are right for you.

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Capital Chemist acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.