If your thighs rub together when you walk (and most people's do, by the way) then you're probably well-acquainted with the agony that is thigh chafing. For those of us who struggle with this painful problem, it's normal to look for some relief in the form of skin lubes and fancy chafe-resistant underwear. But sometimes, knowing what can make thigh chafing worse is the best way to prevent the issue.
Before we get to that, though, let's talk about the mechanics of it all. "When thighs rub each other, similar to when your shoes rub your bare feet, they cause friction. This constant friction can lead to skin chafing," board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD tells Bustle. "Friction is resistance caused by rubbing, and sooner of later, it will injure your skin. Friction worsens with excessive pressure and force, heat, humidity, perspiration, and also from excessive dryness and cold."
If you find yourself walking or running around town all day long, the relentless rubbing can lead to a rash and irritation, blisters and raw skin, and sometimes even a skin infection. Since I doubt you want any part of that, read on for some things that can make thigh chafing worse, so you'll know just what to avoid.
1. Going Out For A Run
Not to say you shouldn't run, but you might want to take some extra precautions the next time you head out for a jog. "Runners experience lots of chafing issues from any number of sources," running coach Meredith O'Brien, MS, ACSM, USATF, CFE tells Bustle. "Chafing is most often caused by friction between skin and clothing, but comes from skin on skin contact as well." The best way to keep your skin feelin' OK when running is to apply some lubricant first. It should do the trick.
Whether you're running or not, sweat can definitely make thigh chafing worse. "Warm weather is notorious for raising the risk of serious chafing," O'Brien says. "Typically chafing will occur after breaking a sweat when clothes start to stick to or sag against the body." Sweat can create the aforementioned friction, which in turn leads to painful irritation.
3. Wearing Clothes With Scratchy Seams
A fabric seam might not feel like a big deal when you're at home, but wear it out for the day and you might think twice before ever doing so again. "[Chafing is] worse ... where bulky seams can sit in tight areas," O'Brien says. This is especially true for runners, who tend to wear tighter outfits that can rub against the skin.
4. Wearing Shorts
If you've ever worn shorts for a long day of walking around (perhaps while on vacation), then you already know it's not a great idea. "You will increase thigh chafing by wearing shorts because they create friction constantly in the inner thigh area," says Janice Rosenthal, spa expert and owner of Garden of Essences. For this reason, she tells me some women have better luck with skirts and dresses, since they don't have that interior piece of fabric.
5. Crossing Your Legs
If you tend to sit cross-legged, it may be time to switch up your style. As Rosenthal tells me, this position can increase the friction on the inside of your thighs, leading to chafing. It can also increase your chances of protruding and broken veins, which aren't too fun either.
6. Forgetting To Dry Off
Let's say you just took a dip in the pool, and now you're going to stroll around with friends. If you skin is still wet, consider yourself warned — it will lead to chafing to some degree. That's why, as Shainhouse tells me, it's smart to dry off and prevent the rub by sprinkling on corn starch or baby powder before getting dressed to reduce wetness and allow skin to slide, not rub.
7. Hanging Out In The Heat And Humidity
Thigh chafe seems to be less of a problem in the cooler months, when we're all wearing pants. But this also has a lot to do with the lack of heat. As board-certified dermatologist Jennifer T. Haley, MD FAAD tells me, repetitive movements (like walking), especially in the heat and humidity of summer, can make thigh chafing worse.
8. Clothing That's Way Too Loose
In the same way some clothing can be too tight (like shorts that are all up in your business), Shainehouse tells me it's possible for thigh chafe to happen with loose clothing, too. If you can imagine loose flowing shorts or baggier jeans bunching up and creating friction on your skin, then you'll know exactly what I mean.
9. Cycling Long Distances
Whether you're outside cycling through the streets, or popping over to the gym to take spin class, beware the thigh chafe. As Shainhouse tells me, running and cycling long distances can create friction on the skin, which (you guessed it) can lead to irritation.
10. Not Showering After A Trip To The Beach
It may feel great to stay all salty and sandy after a day at the beach, but you should most definitely shower as soon as you can. As Shainhouse tells me, the salt and sand from the beach can stick to your skin, further upping your risk of irritation.
11. Going Out In The Cold
Since you (sadly) can't hibernate all winter long, it's going to be necessary to go outside in the cold — even though freezing temps can make thigh chafing worse. You can, however, take some preventative measures. Shainhouse tells me it's important to layer with stockings or tights, especially if you're wearing rough pants, as this will provide a silkier barrier to protect your skin.
So, to sum up, Shainhouse recommends wearing clothes that fit properly (not too baggy, not too tight), applying balms and lubricants to your inner thighs, and choosing sweat-wicking fabrics for all your workout gear. Do these things and you should be all set to walk and run chafe-free.
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