Runners Issue – The dreaded “Chafe”.

Posted by Ian (Race Runner and Collector of Bling) on Friday, August 16, 2019

A common issue for many runners – chaffing. Severe chaffing is known as friction burn.

You’ve just had a great run maybe the best one in a while or perhaps the longest in ages. You get home and dive into that post-run shower and straight away you are hit with that burning sting – OUCH. Preventing the chafe in the first place is the best way to go here.

Common areas for chaffing.

Common areas for chaffing are the thighs, nipples, groin, areas where your arms rub the body, where clothing rubs against your skin, feet and toes.

Most commonly, male runners will experience chafing around or under their arms, nipples or crotch, while female runners are more prone to thigh or breast chafing, or where the sports bra meets the skin and under the arms.

Men are more at risk from bleeding nipples than a woman because woman are often wearing sports bras that can prevent friction in this area.


Running in warm conditions or the rain can be a recipe for the dreaded chafe. It is caused by firstly skin on skin rubbing commonly in the inner-upper thigh area. Secondly, fabric on skin rubbing.

When you sweat your moist skin is prone to damage. The salts and fatty acids in our sweat dry and crystallise. They have a sharp cubic structure to them. Which then creates a source of irritation on the skin.

Rubbing is not just restricted to the area between your legs. It can occur anywhere there is skin-to-skin contact or flesh exposed to clothing. Constant friction combined with sweat, humidity or excessive dryness triggers the skin to break, blister or a burning rash – the result, rubbed-raw skin susceptible to infection.

How it presents itself.

It can show itself as red raised, upbraided skin and can eventually turn into raw skin patches, at its worst it can turn into blisters. ****



Hydrate before, during and after your run. Hydrating will help your sweat not to dry into salt crystals and create friction. When your electrolytes and fluid levels are balanced, the sodium content of your sweat would be lower.

Run in the right gear.

Don’t run in cotton as it is a very absorbent fabric and dries slowly. Also, don’t run with clothes that have large seams A good pair of shorts will have a built-in liner with wicking or quick-drying material which will pull the sweat away from your body and keep you dry.

Opt for synthetic materials, such as Dri-Fit, Coolmax, or polypropylene, especially on a base layer closest to your body. Also, look for clothing that is seamless or has flat seams in the areas that you are prone to chafing.

Get a good moisture-wicking shirt. The best ones are 100% polyester and pull the moisture away from your body and will keep you cool and dry. The moisture is pulled into the top layer of the shirt so it doesn’t sit on directly on your skin. This also stops the build up of bacteria and body odour.

When commuting by foot to work, it’s a good idea to have spare running clothes in your bag or stashed at work to avoid wearing damp or wet running clothes.

Lube, Lube, Lube.

One of the best and easiest methods of prevention is to use a lubricant. There are some excellent lubricants on the market. Most come in a stick form like a deodorant which you apply to the prone areas before your workout.

Cover your nipples.

Some men wear products that cover their nipples. There is a range of these products on the market NipEaze, Nip Guards or adhesive band-aids. Be sure to choose the one that is the right size for you.

Treatment and Recovery.

Wash and treat the area with lukewarm water and mild soap. This action will sting – it will probably be when you first find out you have chaffing when you have that shower after the workout.

Don’t apply anything to this area like alcohol or Hydrogen Peroxide.

Pat the area dry – do not rub it.

This area will be tender until it heals so you should protect it from rubbing and any exposure to the sun.

Wear loose-fitting clothes or clothes that don’t rub in this area.

When you should see a Doctor.

You should consult your health care professional if there are any signs of a skin infection developing or if you have diabetes and the skin is not healing.

Medical Disclaimer: Here at SweetCommute, we aren’t providing medical support or advice. This page is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Always, always seek professional medical health advice. Take care of your body and mind with the appropriate support.