After sweaty summer day walks, the inner thighs become red, raw, and painful, or soon after Zimbabwe classes, the body parts covered under the sports bra burns like hell. This sensation over the skin is known as skin chafing.
What is chafing?
Skin chafing is defined as a rash-like inflammation that usually occurs when moist skin rubs against the other moist skin or any irritating fabric. The medical term used for skin chafing is intertrigo. This is often seen in places where sweat is most likely to occur such as the groin, or armpits or skin fold under the breast, inner thighs, and buttocks. Rarely nipples, feet are also involved. Due to prolonged rubbing of the skin, the skin burns and develops into a mild, red rash whereas in extreme cases chafing may result in swelling, bleeding, and crusting.
Causes For Chafing
The largest organ of the body is skin, which helps in protecting and maintaining health. Skin is sensitive as well as strong enough to protect the body from external entities like germs, heat, and physical harm. Since it is protecting us it is our responsibility to keep it clean and proper by the right amount of body oil or moisturizer to avoid friction and chafing. Unnecessary frequent and continuous rubbing of the skin along with the moisture, making the skin more prone to breakdown.
Causes of chafing are :
- Fortitude sports like biking and running can cause chafing as these make the body sweat excessively due to repetitive motion of the body. It is common for athletes to suffer from chafing at places where the skin or the cloth rubs over the skin.
- Nursing babies, breastfeeding mothers can have chafed nipples.
- Due to prolonged wear of diapers with urine or feces can cause insufficient airflow to the underneath skin thus leading to chafing.
- Wearing a skirt and walking around with it during hot or humid weather allows the inner thighs to rub against each other. But it can be prevented by wearing pants to avoid rubbing of the thighs.
- Improper fitting clothes like tight waistband or strap or sleeves rubbing can irritate the skin.
Immediately stoppage of the rubbing activity irritating skin is advised. The uncomfortable clothing irritating should be changed into something more comfortable. In case, if the chafing is noticed at the beginning itself then, dry skin should be gently patted by the application of petroleum jelly on the affected area.
Treatment of chafing consists of :
- Avoiding the cause of the problem
- Application of lotion which provides a soothing effect over the affected area like balm or oil.
- Exposure to air
- Topical steroid if recommended by a doctor
Chafing can lead to a breakdown of skin and thus exposing skin against the germs and infections. If the chafing exceeds more than mild redness and chapped skin it is advised to visit a doctor. Following are some complications of chafing :
Chafing can be prevented by simple methods that just need proper time and frequent attention. If the chafing is caused due to certain regular activity it is hard to be prevented, but one can reduce its severity. Following are some of the preventing measures to avoid chafing :
These are antiperspirants which help prevent sweating to avoid chafing. Many deodorants contain a moisturizing substance which also prefects the skin. It is advised to apply a thin layer of deodorant to the affected area before initiating the activity.
Certain creams, oils, and powders can reduce friction and protect the skin. Chafing is uncommon when the skin is smooth. It is better to use lotion than powder as it can clump and worsen the chafing.
- Properly fitting clothing
Properly fitted clothes should be chosen as too big clothes are usually found to cause chafing of skin due to continuous rubbing. Special attention is required for the fit of the shoes, shirt over the chest, and waistband.
- Avoid wet clothes
Soon after the swimming, the swimsuit should be taken off as wet, and tight fabrics can irritate the skin.
- Moisture-wicking clothing
Fabrics like cotton retain sweat and moisture in them and keep the skin damp. This makes the skin more vulnerable to chafing. It is good to wear clothes that let the skin help in evaporating sweat specifically during exercise. Cycle tights and specific sports clothing protect the skin against chafing.
- Soft bandages
Chafing can be avoided simply by adding soft bandage which also prevents the flaring up of the affected area. Soft bandages are used on feet, inner thighs, and nipples.
- Keeping pubic hair natural
It is advised to keep pubic hair well decimated to avoid stubble which can lead to chafing.
Chafing is preventable. But if still, it happens, it can be managed and treated by the individual through certain steps. The best way is to avoid the activity which is responsible for chafing and apply petroleum jelly for smoothening effect. Usually, chafing takes only about two days to heal, but sometime it may turn complicated if not treated properly.