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Chafing

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read
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Chafing occurs when skin rubs on either clothing or directly onto other skin. The result is red, inflamed skin that can have cuts. It is common and can occur anywhere on the body, but the most likely areas are the armpits, thighs, groin, and nipples.

Doctor’s advice

Next steps

To avoid chafing, it is best to keep the vulnerable areas dry by changing out of wet clothing items, using talcum powder, and wearing properly fitted sweat-wicking fabrics to exercise. If you are prone to thigh chafing, then wearing cycling shorts when wearing skirts or dresses can help prevent it from occurring.

To treat chafing, speak to your pharmacist regarding purchasing petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or a specific cream or lubricant to help. Clean the area using water and, once dry, apply the product. Avoid causing further chafing to the area to allow healing. Normally chafing should heal within a week.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

The key aims for chafing treatment are to reduce friction and protect skin from wearing down by a combination of sweat and rubbing. It's then to help the skin repair and improve the skin barrier to relieve symptoms and avoid infection.

A petroleum jelly-based product, such as Vaseline or similar, may help provide a protective barrier on the skin to reduce irritation by providing some lubrication and thus reduce friction from rubbing. A product such as Sensi-Care may also help with this.

Lanacane anti-friction gel is a non-greasy alternative that can help protect skin from chafing and provide a smooth, dry barrier over the skin to reduce friction. Being non-greasy, it has less undesirable effects, like being transferred to clothing and underwear.

When should I see my doctor?

You should be able to treat chafing at home with advice from your pharmacist. If the area has not improved after treating for one to two weeks or looks infected (oozing, red around the area, or swollen), then seek medical advice from your local doctor.

The doctor will take your medical history, ask about your current symptoms and examine the area. They may prescribe an antibiotic cream to apply to the area if it is infected.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
EmailFacebookPinterestTwitter
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