Suffering from chafed skin?
A great workout can be exhilarating, stress-busting and mood-lifting—unless it leaves you with spots of red, raw, irritated skin. Ouch. “Whether you’re running, walking or doing cardio, the constant rubbing together of parts of your body—thighs, groin, or underarms—or fabric against your body causes friction that can weaken, wear away or chafe, the skin,” says dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery.
Here’s 4 tips to prevent chafing during your workout
Create a barrier.
Before a long hike, run, or other lengthy workout, spread on a light layer of a product like Vaseline, Aquaphor, or a lubricating balm like Body Glide Anti-Chafing Stick to create a protective layer, Engelman suggests. Powders work, too.
Try talcum powder, Lush Cosmetic Silky Underwear Dusting Powder, or Anti Monkey Butt powder. Either type of product will allow skin to glide smoothly instead of rubbing, reducing irritating friction.
Wear the right gear.
You might think that loose, cotton clothing is your best bet for avoiding friction, but cotton gets wet and stays wet, becoming abrasive. Opt instead for body-hugging workout wear made from synthetic moisture-wicking fabrics such as Lycra or Spandex, Engelman advises. They’ll pull the sweat away from your skin so you stay dry and chafe-free. (These best sports bras for well-endowed women will help, too.)
Mix it up.
If a workout leaves your skin irritated, do a different type of exercise next time you hit the gym. Focus on your upper body one day and your lower body the next day, Engelman advises, to give the affected area time to heal. (Looking for a new workout? Get a flat belly in just 10 minutes a day with our reader-tested exercise plan!)
You’re probably drinking plenty of water to avoid getting dehydrated, but it also helps prevent chafing. “Staying hydrated minimizes the salt concentration in the skin,” Engelman says.
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.
If you’re already suffering from chafed skin, it’s relatively easy to treat if done correctly, Engelman says. First cleanse the area with a mild, non-irritating cleanser such as Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Antibacterial Bar. Then apply Bio Oil, immediately after a shower, and seal it in with a replenishing cream such as Weleda’s Amica Intensive Body Recovery. If the skin stays raw, see your doctor for a medicated ointmen.
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