Whether it's your thighs rubbing together on a hot day, the repetitive motions that come from endurance sports, or your clothes irritating your skin, chafing is a very real thing — and it's no fun. The good news, however, is that if you experience this annoying (and often painful) phenomenon, there are ways to minimize it, if not eliminate the issue altogether. If you're wondering how to prevent chafing, you've got two main options: lubricants and physical barriers. Let's explore these two methods a little more:
- Lubrication: Some of the best anti-chafing products are salves, creams, and balms. Since chafing is ultimately the result of friction, these products work similarly to the oil on mechanical gears, providing a slippery barrier that prevents uncomfortable rubbing.
- Physical barriers: The other main route for chafe reduction is via physical barriers, such as undergarments, thigh bands, or special tapes. These solid cloth or adhesive barriers prevent skin from rubbing together.
In addition to these two main strategies, reducing sweat can also help. Perspiration moistens your skin, making it more fragile and vulnerable to damage, while also potentially leaving salt crystals behind, which can increase irritation due to their gritty texture. So, for maximum relief and prevention, consider also wearing moisture-wicking underwear and clothing.
Read on to find more specific tips on how to prevent chafing.
1. Use A Chamois Cream
Originally created for cyclists to prevent their bike shorts from causing friction, chamois cream also works wonders for thigh rubbing and other chafing scenarios. This option from Zealios, which is made with organic aloe vera gel, is one of the best anti-chafe creams out there. The solution is also both antibacterial and non-staining — so you don't have to worry about the product ruining your clothes — and it's vegan and paraben-free, too.
2. Apply An Anti-Chafe Stick
Applying an anti-chafe stick balm is another excellent lubrication-based method for reducing friction. ChubRub is made with thigh rubbing in mind — but it can be used anywhere — and it is one of the top-rated products for skin chafing. The balm is formulated with a soothing blend of coconut oil, shea butter, and aloe, and glides on easily for long-lasting protection. Plus, the convenient stick applicator means it's easy to throw in your purse and take on the go.
3. Try A Powder Gel
Similar to chamois creams and anti-chafe sticks, powders gels are an effective lubricant for alleviating chafing. This Monistat Care anti-chafing powder is immensely popular among customers, earning consistently high ratings and more than 4,000 reviews. Many tout its ability to stay on for hours at a time, as well as its non-greasy texture. It's budget-friendly, and reviewers say that a "little goes a long way," so you're getting a lot of bang for your buck.
4. Wear Elastic Thigh Bands
Although elastic bands won't work everywhere on your body, they make a fantastic choice for anyone whose main issue is thigh rubbing. Made from nylon and spandex, these soft anti-chafe bands minimize friction, and reviewers say they feel silky against your skin. They can be worn under skirts, dresses, and long shorts, and come in a wide range of colors and styles, including many lacy picks.
- Available sizes: Small - XXX-Large
5. Wrap Sensitive Skin In Sports Tape
Its intended purpose is to help prevent athletic injuries, but sports tape also happens to be a great chafing solution, particularly if your discomfort is caused by repetitive movements from biking, running, hiking, or other active pursuits. This FlexTrek tape is easy to tear and stays in place without sliding down or peeling off, and it's made with latex-free, hypoallergenic cotton, so even those with sensitive skin can use it.
6. Invest In Moisture-Wicking Undies
Minimizing sweat and dampness is another way to reduce and prevent chafing, and this moisture-wicking underwear can help you do just that. Made with super soft bamboo viscose fiber and spandex, they rise to the mid-waist and offer full coverage. Even better, they're lightweight, comfortable, and — according to many Amazon reviewers — they don't ride up. (Because who needs any more discomfort?) Choose from a range of colors and pack sizes.
- Available sizes: 4 - 10
7. Add A Layer Of Long Briefs Under Your Clothes
Specifically made for thigh rubbing, these clever anti-chafe briefs are a fuss-free way to minimize friction-related discomfort. The mid-waist briefs hug your body without tightness or squeezing, and they're made with a cooling and moisture-wicking material, so you don't have to trade in chafing for overheating. Soft, smooth, and lightweight, they're available in two lengths and a handful of neutral colors.
- Available sizes: Small - 3X-Large
8. Keep It Simple With Plain Old Vaseline
Sometimes, the simplest solutions make all the difference. If you're not up for buying fancy creams and gels, you can always opt for a reliable tub of Vaseline. The petroleum jelly acts similarly to chamois cream, providing generous lubrication to help reduce friction. It may be a tad stickier, but it's a worthy option that's effective and wallet-friendly.
9. Prevent It From Getting Worse With A First Aid Salve
If you notice chafing beginning, a great way to keep it from getting worse is to use a first aid salve to stave off irritation. This one is made from gentle, soothing botanicals like rosemary, yarrow, calendula, and comfrey, and it's skin-friendly and paraben-free. It can also be used on blisters, scrapes, and cuts, too, making this a good all-around addition to your medicine cabinet.