Prob­lem solved: chaf­ing Sim­ple so­lu­tions that will help

Prevention (Australia) - - Contents - BY RICHARD LALIBERTE

Feel­ing rubbed raw after a work­out? Or the sum­mer heat is tak­ing its toll on your skin? Here are some sim­ple so­lu­tions that will help.

It’s a fa­mil­iar sce­nario: after a sweaty work­out your in­ner thighs are red, raw and painful – as though you were wear­ing sport shorts made from sand­pa­per. Yes, you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing chaf­ing, a rash-like in­flam­ma­tion (med­i­cally known as in­ter­trigo) that hap­pens when moist skin rubs against other moist skin or cloth­ing. It’s es­pe­cially com­mon in skin folds where sweat be­comes trapped, such as the groin, armpits, and un­der the breasts, and after walk­ing or other forms of ex­er­cise.

And be­cause raw, mois­ture laden skin in­vites mi­cro­bial over­growth, a skin in­fec­tion can fol­low. “Abra­sion from mois­ture and fric­tion makes mi­cro­scopic cuts in the skin, and salt from sweat can ex­ac­er­bate the ir­ri­ta­tion,” says der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr Cameron Rokhsar. Want to avoid chaf­ing this sea­son, or at least lessen its sever­ity? Fol­low this ad­vice.


IN­TER­RUPT THE FRIC­TION A thick, slip­pery cream ap­plied on chafe prone ar­eas re­duces fric­tion and pre­vents abra­sion. Brands like Body Glide and Neat 3B are tai­lor-made to pre­vent chaf­ing. Don’t rely on oily lo­tions, which won’t last as long. “You want a prod­uct that you have to scoop out of the jar or is spe­cially for­mu­lated for chaf­ing,” says der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr Temi­tayo Ogunl­eye. If needed, reap­ply after about three hours.

TRY AN AN­TIPER­SPI­RANT Over-the-counter an­tiper­spi­rants con­tain alu­minium chlo­ride, which can block sweat in any mois­ture-prone skin folds, such as un­der breasts or in the in­ner thigh or groin area. Ap­ply a light layer and let it dry be­fore any ac­tiv­ity. Con­sider adding an an­ti­fun­gal pow­der to help fur­ther wick away mois­ture and pro­tect against in­fec­tions, but avoid putting it on or around places that are meant to be moist, like the vagina.

WEAR PRO­TEC­TIVE CLOTH­ING Cot­ton traps mois­ture so isn’t your friend when it comes to chaf­ing – in­stead, choose syn­thetic fab­rics like polyester or Ly­cra, which aren’t as ab­sorbent. Look for gar­ments that have flat seams or are seam­less, and re­move any in­te­rior tags; this also helps pre­vent skin ir­ri­ta­tion. Even when you’re not work­ing out, wear­ing close-fit­ting, mois­turewick­ing ath­letic gear like com­pres­sion shorts (slip them on un­der a flowy dress) can re­duce fric­tion and cre­ate a bar­rier be­tween two skin sur­faces or be­tween skin and cloth­ing.


CLEANSE WITH CARE Wash in­flamed ar­eas with a gen­tle body wash or plain luke­warm wa­ter to soothe ir­ri­ta­tion from dried sweat and help con­trol fun­gal growth. Pat dry, don’t rub – then, if you can, let the skin air out for a few mo­ments to make sure all damp­ness is gone. “You might even dry the area with a fan or a blow dryer set on cool,” Rokhsar says. CALM IT WITH OINT­MENTS Treat chafed ar­eas twice a day with a zinc ox­ide oint­ment or a balm such as Bepan­then or zinc and cas­tor oil cream to soothe the abra­sion and re­store da­m­aged skin. If you need some­thing stronger for a one-time in­ci­dent, try ap­ply­ing a top­i­cal over-the-counter cor­ti­cos­teroid twice a day for three days, then ta­per off and quit be­fore the two-week mark.

“You don’t want to use steroids long-term due to po­ten­tial side ef­fects like thin­ning skin, stretch marks and spi­der veins,” Rokhsar says.

CON­SIDER MED­I­CAL OP­TIONS If chaf­ing is from ex­ces­sive sweat­ing, you may have a con­di­tion called hy­per­hidro­sis, which can be treated with pre­scrip­tion strength alu­minium chlo­ride an­tiper­spi­rants, Bo­tox in­jec­tions in the prob­lem spots or pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions. You can also talk with a der­ma­tol­o­gist about laser treat­ments that elim­i­nate sweat glands in prob­lem ar­eas.

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