We’ve all experienced chafing at one point or another — the painful friction rash that’s a result of excessive skin-on-skin or skin-on-fabric rubbing. But what causes it to happen, and how can it be prevented? These are the questions we’ll answer in this post. Read on!
What causes chafing?
Chafing most commonly occurs on the thighs, the sides of the torso, the armpit area, the chest/nipple area, and the neck. And there are really just two conditions that bring about this dreaded irritation.
We usually associate moisture with making things more slippery, but when it comes to our skin, moisture creates friction. Whether it’s from sweat brought on by the summer heat, getting caught in the rain while on a run, or going for a dip in the ocean, the outcome for our skin is the same: a very grippy situation. You know how it’s a lot harder to take off a wet t-shirt because it just wants to stick to your body? That’s the phenomenon we’re talking about.
The other thing that can cause friction is clothing that doesn’t quite fit right on your body. Usually the friction occurs when the item is too tight, but it can also develop if the item is just an unusual cut, or poorly constructed, or made from a rough material. Underwear or shorts that are too tight is a common cause of thigh chafing, and you may have experienced painful chafing on your neck when your shirt is a rough material or the neck hole is a bit too small.
How to prevent it
To keep chafing out of your life, the goal is to avoid the two above-mentioned conditions as much as possible! Here’s how to do that:
Wear looser-fitting clothing
We know it’s tempting to show off those muscles with skin-tight clothing, but the tighter your clothes are, the more they’re going to rub on your skin as you move. For workout clothes, definitely opt for somewhat looser styles. Not baggy, which can actually be problematic as well, but a comfortable close-to-the-body-but-still-slightly-loose fit. This will prevent fabric-caused friction, and will also improve the air flow to your skin which will help cool you down.
Choose the right fabric
When choosing your athletic gear, the type of fabric you select is important as well. A lot of sources recommend synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, because they wick away moisture and will keep you drier than natural fabrics such as cotton (which absorb moisture and more easily get wet). While that is true, synthetic fabrics unfortunately aren’t breathable and trap in heat, which in turn makes you sweat even more (and makes you stinky).
We’ve found the best solution for sports clothing is a cotton/polyester blend. This clever combination offers the moisture-wicking benefits of polyester, along with the breathability of cotton. It’s a win-win!
Use anti-chafe powder
Another essential chafe prevention tactic is to rub your problem areas with a good body powder before getting dressed. Powder reduces friction by keeping your skin nice and glide-y when it comes in contact with other skin or with fabric. It also has the added benefit of soaking up the sweat that forms in those areas, keeping you drier and keeping the chafing at bay.
We of course recommend our 4-in-1 Body Powder for your chafe protection needs. In addition to stopping painful chafing, it’s been specially formulated with ingredients to effectively absorb moisture, control body odor, and soothe and protect skin that may already be irritated. And it’s talc-free!
Wearing the right clothes and using body powder will go a long way towards keeping you dry out there. But, if you’re preparing for a competitive match or an intense workout, some sweating is inevitable.
In these situations, it’s always a good idea to keep a small towel on-hand to dry off your problem areas as much as possible as you go (e.g., during water breaks or timeouts). This will help keep the moisture levels on your skin down and prevent your clothes from soaking up too much sweat, keeping your skin more comfortable and irritation-free.