Chafing When Running

chafing thighs running

Chafing when running is not something that you think about until it affects you.

You get into the shower after your run and suddenly you feel that stinging pain between your thighs, on your lower back or your knees or perhaps you have seen some poor guy with bloody nipples leaking though his running shirt. Yikes, that is probably chafing.

What are the chafing symptoms in runners?

Many people think that it is only the overweight who suffer from chafing but in fact it can be anyone, whether you are fat or thin, fast or slow, male or female.

Running is a repetitive movement. You swing your arms and legs (and everything else), back and forwards, over and over again. Add to this a bit of sweat and then throw in some salt and you can start to imagine how your sweaty, salty skin is going to react.

Chafing is caused by the continual rubbing of a skin surface either against another skin surface or other material such as a t-shirt.

This continual rubbing causes friction and damges the outer layer of skin leading to redness and pain and even bleeding.

Chafing symptoms include:

  • Redness on the area of friction
  • Soreness
  • Grazed and/or broken skin
  • Bleeding

Common areas where runners suffer from chafing when running :

  • Where skin rubs against skin such as inner thighs, inner knees,  groin,  ladies vulva area, armpits.
  • Where skin rubs against material such as from waistbands, waist packs, bra straps,  heart rate chest straps, camel packs, t shirts on nipples, short liners.

4 Tips on How to Prevent Chafing when Running

Prevention is better than cure and there are definitely ways to prevent nipple chafing,  thigh chafing or any other chafing.

Create a barrier layer on your skin

Create a layer between your skin and the adjacent skin/material that might rub. Do this by slathering on a barrier cream or ointment such as Vaseline, skin balm or powder, in order to create a barrier layer. 

These all deserve a spot in your gym bag:
Body Glide (my favorite)
Anti Monkey Butt Powder (yes I know!)
Run Butta Anti-Chafe Balm
Squirrels Nut Butter

(Please note that as an Amazon associate I earn from any qualifying purchases)

Choose clothing that won't rub

You might be tempted by loose clothing in the hot weather but in fact you are better off with tighter or snug fit clothing. Make sure that it  is made of a sweat-wicking fabric so that you limit dampness and try and find clothing that has flat seams or is even seamless. 

UGLOW is a French brand that produces high quality, seamless and ultra light, running and cycling clothing. I have quite a few of their products and have been more than happy with them.

Look after your skin

At night, moisturize areas that are prone to dryness such as your feet and look out for any dried or cracked skin areas that might be more likely to rub or catch on skin or material.

Watch those crevices

Keep crevices such as armpits, breast folds, groin, buttocks, as dry as possible. Easier said than done, when you are running and getting hot and sweaty.

Before a run, keep as cool as possible. Thoroughly dry your skin  and then sprinkle an absorbant powder in the chafe prone areas. Cornstarch or potato starch are said to work well.

Protect those nipples

Men seem to suffer more with sore nipples than women. Most women wear a bra so that prevents rubbing on the nipples.

A few preventative measure that you can take are:

How to Treat Chafing when Running

If you suffer from chafing when running, then treat the sore area as you would any  other wound. 

  • Before you apply any products, make sure that your skin is clean and dry.
  • Wash the area gently, by running some cool water over the sore and using a gentle soap such as baby soap or baby shampoo.
  • Dry the area gently by patting it with a soft towel rather than rubbing.
  • Apply a skin soothing product (see below).
  • Try to let the air get to the chafed area but if necessary you can cover the area with a piece of light gauze.
  • The chafed area should start to heal within a couple of days. However if the redness and swelling gets worse or you can see pus, then go and see your doctor.

Best creams to treat chafing

The best creams to apply are something that soothes and protects the skin. What better than diaper cream or vaseline! Alternatively try these home remedies below.

Home Remedies for Chafing when Running

You don't have to buy a special product to prevent or treat chafing when running. Here are my favorites and all tried and tested.

Coconut oil

Good for prevention and treatment as it is anti-inflammatory, healing and very moisturizing. One downside is that it is not so good if you don't like the smell of coconut and it is quite messy.

Cornstarch or Potato starch powder

Both cornstarch and potato starch are great at keeping the skin dry as they absorb moisture. Sprinkle onto dry skin or mix with a little Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to make a paste. You can also use baby powder although there have bee some concerns about a possible link between baby powder from Johnson & Johnson and ovarian cancer.

Aloe Vera

If you don't have an aloe vera plant or a bottle of aloe vera gel at home, then get one now as it is so useful. The juice from the leaves contains a magical protein called glycoprotein which is wonderful for reducing pain and inflammation and so excellent at treating chafing when running and in fact any type of sore. It feels lovely and cool when you apply it and absorbs easily and gets rid of the sting.


Antiperspirants contain a product known as aluminium chloride which helps to stop sweating so can work as a preventative treatment. Try rolling some antiperspirant on areas that get sweaty such as under your breasts or your groin. PS don't do this on broken skin as it will sting like crazy.

You might also be interested in Black Toe Nails

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