It seems like we’ve been talking a lot about the Charleston and Mount Pleasant heat lately…but who can blame us? With heat indexes reaching into the 100’s in much of the country, it’s not just a Lowcountry problem! And we know that no matter how toasty it gets, many of you Duffnatics will keep up your exercise routines, sweaty or not! BUT with this heat comes sweat and the inevitable—CHAFING!
Yes. We said it. The dreaded word that has earned other such illustrious names as “Marathon Tattoo”, “Road Rash” and our personal favorite: “Man Rash” (for other HILARIOUS but somewhat inappropriate terms check out the Urban Thesaurus’ entry on the subject!!!). And the worst part about chafing is that oftentimes you don’t realize that it’s a problem until it has already happened. So what are we athletes to do to avoid this painful problem?
Read on to get the “rub” on ways to avoid chafing:
HERE’S THE RUB
First of all, in case you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing chafing, Men’s Health, describes it as: “Repetitive friction can cause redness or irritation—even blistering or bleeding. Common problem areas are the nipples, underarms and between the thighs, but chafing can occur anywhere friction does. And once the rash sets in, it’s difficult to treat because there’s no convenient way to keep your thighs [or any other affected body part] from touching for an entire week.”
THE RUN-DOWN ON PREVENTION
Long-distance runners are some of the most susceptible to chafing, so Runner’s World has some sage advice on how to avoid the pain—including some outside-the-box ideas. While it’s common knowledge to lube-up with petroleum jelly-based gels like BodyGlide, what happens when you’re out on a run and you’ve sweated through it? Runner’s World recommends, “When heading out for a long run, stash ChapStick or a travel-sized deodorant in a pocket.” Brilliant!
ALL ABOUT THE FIT
Another way to avoid the friction that causes chafing is to protect your skin from outside elements like tags, velcro and ill-fitting gear. LiveStrong explains, “The wrong clothing can lead to rubbing. Select clothes for your workout that fit well, but are not tight. You also need to avoid clothes that are too loose. Stay away from clothing made of cotton, because it absorbs moisture. Instead, wear clothing made from synthetic material that breathes such as Lycra.”
PopSugar recommends streamlining your gear: “Go seamless. You may have to pay extra money for clothes that have smooth seams, but it’s so worth your comfort. Also look for clothes that don’t have any tags.”
HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE
And what you do before and during your exercises can help. Prevention Magazine reminds us to drink up to help cut back on chafing: ”Staying hydrated minimizes the salt concentration in the skin…Otherwise, your body can’t sweat out enough water to wash away the tiny salt crystals, so they cling to the surface of the skin and act like sandpaper, worsening irritation.”
AFTER THE FACT
And finally, what do you do once you’ve realized that you have already irritated your skin to no end? Runner’s World recommends: “Apply petroleum jelly or talcum powder to the sensitive areas to prevent further irritation, or cover the chafed spot with a bandage. (Also, look for special lubricating products formulated not to stain clothes, often available at specialty running stores.) When your nipples are the rub, try a Dr. Scholl’s product called “Corn Cushions,” which offer good protection from friction and peel off easily after your run.” You can also apply bandaids in a pinch. The most important thing is to allow the area to heal without further irritation (or infection—if your chafed area includes broken skin, be sure to keep it clean and if necessary, apply antibiotic cream)!