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Chafing Between the Legs: The Causes, Prevention and Treatment

At a recent 5K race, two very different female participants had one thing in common. After passing the finish line, they both were very uncomfortable. Both had chafing between the legs.

One participant was a was a very fit, athletic runner who finished the race with ease. The second was an obese walker who was challenging herself and hoping to eventually become healthier. Their inner thighs became sweaty, irritated, red, and raw.

Causes of Chafing Between Legs

• Friction causes leg chafing. It can be prevented and cured. Walking, working out and wearing tight jeans can make the skin more fragile and lead to it wearing away.
• Excessive sweating wears down the top layer of skin causing painful, irritated and chafing between legs.
• Badly fitting workout clothing can also create leg chafing. You should not be wearing loose-fitting or cotton shorts or pants. Cotton causes moisture to be trapped, which irritates the skin.

Prevention of Chafing Between the Legs:

• You must keep the area dry. Wet skin creates leg chafing and also makes it worse. Get out of your wet or sweaty clothes as soon as possible. Apply talcum or alum powder to the sweatiest areas. Powders wick the perspiration away from the body.
• Apply a lubricant such as petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or similar item to the areas of leg chafing. Petroleum jelly is inexpensive and you can get it almost anywhere. Try applying in the morning when you get dressed and see if it helps.
• When exercising, be sure to wear clothes that fit well, such as bike shorts or other compression shorts. Also, synthetic fiber clothes are best for wicking away perspiration. If it is very warm, men might consider running without a shirt, and women try wearing a sports bra to minimize perspiration. Always choose workout clothes with no seams between the legs that may create chafing between the legs.

How to Stop Chafing Between the Legs

• Don’t ignore it!
• If you are already afflicted with chafing legs, be sure you don’t scrub them. That will definitely make them worse and more painful. Wash them very gently with a mild cleanser and warm water. A recommended product is Dove soap, which is pH neutral.
• Women should consider wearing soft comfortable pants or shorts during the day, and also wear pajamas at night, to avoid skin-on-skin rubbing.
• Use petroleum jelly to soothe the skin, and to protect and heal the raw skin. Avoid skin creams with fragrance and additional ingredients that may be irritating and harsh.
• If the area is painful, bleeding, swollen or crusted, you must see a doctor. You may need a medicinal ointment. If the chafing continues, you may get an infection, bacterial or fungal.
• Do not resume exercise until the chafing legs are healed.

You can find many products that assist in the prevention and treatment of chafing legs. Some are:

Body Glide: A cream originally for runners, but now for a variety of people with chafing legs.
• Bandalettes: Lace pull-ups that cover the thighs. They are sized up to 32” and are made of silicone so they don’t slip.
• Undersummers: Shorts that are stretchy and soft, with a variety of colors, styles and in sizes up to 30.

So there are a number of ways you can keep your legs healthy and comfortable, but be sure to care for them diligently.


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