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Chafing: Skin Chafing Causes, Treatments, Prevention

Chafing: Skin Chafing Causes, Treatments, Prevention


What do you mean by chafing?

A common skin condition, chafing, refers to the skin damage caused by friction when body parts rub against each other or other materials like clothes, hygiene products, etc. Prolonged rubbing causes a stinging or burning sensation in your skin and you develop a mild rash that is reddish in colour.

In severe conditions, you may also experience swelling, bleeding or crusting of the skin with chafing commonly found in the thighs or buttocks but even occurring in the nipples, vulva, feet and armpits.

What are the common causes of skin chafing?

Your skin is the largest organ of the human body, which protects the internal organs from dust, germs and physical harm. But, the skin cells break down in the presence of too much friction, resulting in chafing. The most common causes of chafing can include the following:

  • Being overweight - If you are on the heavier side, excess fat in areas like the thighs, abdomen, arms, etc can rub against each other resulting in chafing.
  • Breastfeeding - As the baby constantly sucks during nursing, the skin around your breasts and nipples can get irritated leading to cracked nipples that can sometimes bleed.
  • Wearing wet clothes - When wet clothes stick to your body, the friction coupled with the moisture can result in your skin softening up and breaking.
  • Playing sports - Engaging in sports, especially biking and running, can combine sweat with friction, resulting in chafing.
  • Wearing diapers and pads - Wearing diapers and pads made of harsh synthetic materials can irritate your skin from the friction generated against your intimate parts, resulting in chafing and rashes.
  • Wearing tight or ill-fitting clothing - Wearing tight clothing like smaller bras and underwear can constantly rub against and dig into your skin, causing chafing. Even excessively loose clothing does not provide protection against rubbing body parts and can cause the same issue.
  • Choosing to wear a skirt - If you opt for a skirt, especially in hot and humid weather, your inner thighs can rub against each other while moving, resulting in chafing.

How do you treat chafing?

The first step to treat chafing is to identify what’s causing the issue. Once you realize what’s chafing your skin, you should discontinue it immediately, be it an activity, apparel or product. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to a few effective remedies for this annoying condition:

  • Use aloe vera to soothe the area - Either use natural aloe vera directly from the plant or use a store-bought good quality aloe vera gel to soothe the chafed skin. It is also capable of reducing the inflammation caused by chafing while imparting a cooling sensation.
  • Apply moisturizer - Use any lubricating substance like body butters, oils, petroleum jelly or moisturizers to soothe the dryness and promote skin healing while reducing friction. This is especially an important part of winter skincare as, during this season, your skin is drier than usual.
  • Getting fresh air - Let your chafed part get some fresh air for a soothing sensation while keeping the area dry from sweat.
  • Use an ice pack - If you experience swelling, burning or excessive pain from chafing, use an ice pack for some time to soothe the area.

How do you prevent chafing?

While it’s not always possible to completely avoid activities that prevent chafing, you can take steps to minimize the severity and lessen the discomfort and these can include:

  • Keep skin moisturized - If your skin is dry, the chances of chafing increase. Use a good quality moisturizer, oil, butter or petroleum jelly to keep your skin adequately moisturized. This will minimize friction and protect your skin from chafing.
  • Use pads made of natural fibres - If your synthetic pads are causing irritation, chafing and rashes, switch to Carmesi Sensitive Sanitary Pads, which are made of a plant-based top-sheet that is incredibly soft and 100% rash-free.
  • Change from wet clothes - After going for a swim or getting wet in the rain, change out of wet clothes immediately to prevent water and the wet clothes stuck to your body from causing chafing.
  • Use a natural deodorant in your underarms - If your underarms are prone to chafing, the culprit may be excessive sweat. Use a natural deodorant free from harmful chemicals like the Carmesi Natural Deodorant Roll-on to keep your underarms free from excessive sweat.
  • Wear clothes that fit well - Wearing excessively tight or loose clothing can result in chafing, as mentioned above. Always try to wear clothes that are made of natural blends and that fit you properly.
  • Use nipple shields for nursing - Using nipple shields while nursing can keep your nipples from getting damaged, while also giving cracked nipples time to heal. They are excellent when your nipples are very prone to chafing or already damaged but you don’t want to give up breastfeeding.
  • Avoid wearing skirts in humid conditions - It’s best to avoid wearing skirts when it’s hot and humid outside so that your thighs don’t sweat and rub against each other. Alternatively, if you want to wear a skirt anyway, consider wearing tights underneath to prevent friction in your inner thighs.

Should you see a doctor?

Chafing doesn’t usually require professional medical attention and heals on its own with a little care. However, if you notice that the area is becoming overly irritated or developing an infection, you should consider visiting a doctor for guidance.

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