Chafing is skin irritation that occurs where skin rubs against skin, clothing, or other material.
Skin irritation from rubbing
When skin becomes irritated because of something rubbing, there are several things you can try, including:
- Avoid coarse clothing. Wearing 100% cotton fabric against your skin may help.
- Eliminate friction against your skin by using appropriate clothing for the activity you are involved in (for example, athletic tights or cycling shorts).
- Avoid activity that is causing chafing unless it is part of your typical lifestyle, exercise routine, sporting, or other activity.
- Wear clean and dry clothing. Dried sweat, chemicals, dirt, and other debris may actually be causing the irritation.
- Temporarily use petroleum jelly or baby powder on chafed areas of your skin. You can also use these agents before activity to prevent chafing in easily irritated areas -- for example, your inner thighs or upper arms while running.
Cole MB, Smith ML. Environmental and sports-related skin diseases. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 88.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.