The recipe for chafing is simple: dry skin, sweat, and friction. Dry skin can be caused by failing to hydrate well enough during exercise or a game. Some people have naturally dry skin which simply produces less oil. Others live in a dry climate which can lead to chronically dry skin if proper soap, moisturizer, and skin care are not adhered to. Sweat is the natural byproduct of exertion. To get a good workout sweating is inevitable. Armpits are especially active in producing sweat which is why chafing in armpits is common. Friction is simply is when two things rub together, in this case, the skin of the armpit rubs together and especially if the skin is dry the sweat irritates it causing inflammation. This condition can deteriorate into blisters and breakage in the skin. This, in turn, can be a breeding ground for infection in the skin. The first signs, redness, and tenderness should be taken seriously and treated.
Thankfully there are things athletes can do at home to treat chafing armpits. Proper hydration is critical. Drinking water to replace the fluids that were lost during exercise is important. Beyond drinking water, it is important to use soap that can help reduce the irritation as well. No perfumes, extra moisturizing, and antibacterial soaps can all be beneficial. Finding a good lotion that soothes the skin can be helpful.
Moisturizing is also a great preventative step. Athletes who are aware of their skin health and committed to keeping well hydrated are more likely to avoid chafing in armpits.
Sometimes moisture is not enough. Sensitive skin, shaving, wearing synthetic fabrics and extended periods of activity can all contribute to someone with well-moisturized skin developing chafing. In these situations, a good solution is to use something like ChafeZone Anti-Chafe & Blister Prevention Lubricant or Bodyglide Original Anti-Chafe Balm. These products provide a light, nonoily barrier between the two layers of skin and reduce the irritation of friction.
If chafing in the armpits does not improve despite using moisturizers, wearing cotton or natural fabric, and even using a lubricating gel, it is time to ask a doctor. A dermatologist would be the best source of information. They would be able to identify any underlying conditions causing the chafing armpits and recommend prescription treatments.
Chafing armpits can be treated and healed. Delay in addressing any chafing in the armpits can result in more serious skin conditions so all athletes should be aware of the signs and familiar with the remedies to this painful skin condition.