Chafing is not a pleasant experience, and it can catch you off guard. Weather conditions, clothing, and hydration are only a few of the conditions that affect your skin and its propensity to chafe. However, if you know you’re among those who are more prone to chafing and you have an awareness of the conditions that lead to too much rub, you can stop the burn before it starts.
Who is more likely to chafe?
You chafe when your skin rubs against skin or an object like clothing. The rubbing creates tiny tears in the skin’s surface. In severe cases, the skin may get rubbed off or swell, potentially becoming infected.
Certain demographics and lifestyle habits put some people at higher risk for chafing, including:
- Athletes: The repetitive motions of many sports, such as running and cycling, can easily cause chafing. These activities also increase perspiration, which is another factor that leads to chafing.
- Individuals with limb loss: Limb loss and the prosthetics used for mobility put the skin under increased stress. The body also has to work harder to move with a prosthetic, which causes excess perspiration that can contribute to chafing.
- Individuals with excess weight: Excess weight can increase skin-on-skin pressure and friction throughout the body, increasing the chances of chafing.
- Active persons: If you’re the kind of person that’s hiking one day and on the beach the next, you might be more prone to chafing because movement creates more friction.
Why do I chafe so easily?
Perspiration and moisture on the skin increase rubbing and friction. In humid conditions, perspiration can’t evaporate, keeping the skin moist and prepped for chafing. If you live where it’s humid for the majority or part of the year, you could find yourself chafing more often than someone living in a drier climate.
Perspiration, like humidity, puts moisture on your skin, increasing the friction. Sweat is one reason athletes are more likely to chafe, too. The areas where you perspire the most, like under the arms, in the groin, between the thighs, and under the breasts for women can chafe more easily.
Some people perspire more than others because of their genetics. Others, like individuals with limb loss, may perspire more because of their medical condition. Individuals with limb loss have to work harder to do everyday tasks like walking and climbing stairs. Their higher workload causes more perspiration and, hence, more chafing.
Wearing skirts or shorts
Skirts and shorter shorts allow skin-on-skin contact at the inner thighs that could lead to chafing. You’re less likely to chafe if you’re wearing pants or long shorts because the fabric acts as a friction barrier.
Heat causes perspiration and can lead to hot, dry skin, both of which contribute to chafing. Many people struggle with chafing in the summer because they’re more active, and they perspire more. That doesn’t mean you can’t chafe in the winter, but it is more common in hotter months.
Poor clothing fit
Clothing that’s too tight or that’s too loose can cause excess movement of the fabric or leave the skin exposed to skin-on-skin rubbing. Clothing fit is especially important when you’re exercising. The clothing should be snug but not so tight that the seams dig into the skin. Clothing that’s too loose may cause excessive movement of the fabric or leave the skin exposed to skin-on-skin areas.
Prosthetic management, (socks)
For individuals with limb loss, prosthetic management is an integral part of chafing prevention. How you wear your liner and prosthetic sock(s) affect the fit of the prosthetic and helps manage perspiration.
Watch your residual for signs of swelling, especially in the heat. You may need fewer or thinner socks in the summer when you’re more prone to swelling and perspiration. If you know you’ll be working hard, keep an extra sock with you so you can keep a clean, dry surface inside the prosthetic socket.
Prevent Chafing by Caring for Your Skin
Being aware of the conditions that lead to chafing is a good first step. The next step is caring for your skin by:
- Staying hydrated. Drink plenty of water to help your skin stay flexible.
- Keeping it clean. Dirt and perspiration on the skin increase irritation and friction. Be sure to use a gentle cleanser that won’t dry the skin.
- Moisturizing in the morning. Well-moisturized skin resists rubbing better than dry skin. Try VitalFit’s Day Moisturizer, which specifically creates a protective barrier to reduce friction. It also helps reduce inflammation, odor, and bacteria.
- Moisturizing before bed. Use a night moisturizer that’s designed to help the skin heal, like VitalFit’s Night Moisturizer.
- Appling a friction barrier. Sometimes your skin needs extra help resisting chafing. Individuals with limb loss and athletes, in particular, need help to protect their skin from the high stress of their daily activities. Our Liquid-to-Powder Plus product applies like a lotion and dries to a powder finish that creates a friction barrier. It allows the skin to glide against any surfaces with which it comes into contact.
If you fall into one of the groups that are more likely to chafe, it’s best to be proactive with your skin care. Keep your skin clean and hydrated. Prepare in advance if you know you’ll be in conditions that increase chafing. With care and preparation, chafing won’t slow you down.