Skin Chafe: What Causes Skin Chafing & When Do You Know?

Skin Chafing can be caused by physical activity involving the continuous rubbing of skin against skin and/or clothing material. The friction generated in this process damages the top layers of the skin and exposes the raw and more sensitive skin below.

Often, the first time that the chafing problem reveals itself is when a stinging, or burning, sensation is noticed in the affected area. The result is the familiar redness and soreness on the surface of the skin. There are many common areas where chafing occurs including on the nipples, inner groin and thigh, under and between breasts, between buttocks, under arms, under specialised sporting equipment, and on the feet.

What Factors Influence The Level, Or Intensity, Of The Chafe?

The degree of chafing is influenced by the level of the frictional forces and the number of times that the skin comes in contact with other skin or the material involved in the rubbing process.  The level of the frictional force may depend upon the physical build/characteristics of the person, and/or on the clothing material and/or fit.  It will also depend on the intensity of the activity, with longer and more intense levels of activity usually resulting in a higher level and frequency of rubbing, as well as increased sweat production.

Therefore, it is important for an individual to be aware of those areas on their person where they have chafed on previous occasions, or where they are likely to chafe.

Ideally, the activity should be terminated as soon as the problem becomes apparent. This is not always possible, or even desirable, from the individual’s point of view. If the activity cannot be terminated when this soreness first becomes apparent, then the inflamed skin surface may begin to ooze, or, in some cases, even bleed. 

What steps can be taken to protect your skin from chafe?

One of the traditional approaches to reduce friction is to use a petroleum jelly, or petrolatum, based lubricant. There are many examples of these products in the market. However, these products tend to sit on the surface of the skin, holding water in the skin, and preventing evaporation. This ingredient characteristic is called 'occlusive'. 

The occlusive function is acceptable in some circumstances, e.g., in skin moisturising.  However, petroleum jelly is less effective than other product types in preventing chafing during activity, i.e., they are not good skin lubricants.

The alternative to an occlusive product is a non-occlusive one. These include products based on silicones and vegetable and nut oils, butters and waxes. Silicones, in addition to being non-occlusive, have the following characteristics: they are clear, have low odour, high spreadability and are water repellent.

There is also an overarching need for you to look after your skin in those areas that are prone to rubbing. This means that it is important to use an anti-chafing product every time that you exercise so as to minimise repetitive damage to the surface of the skin.

You should also consider wearing well-fitting clothing made from appropriate technical fabrics.

Chafe No More Versus Anti Chafe Extreme

IRONMAN® by Bexters Chafe No More is a non-fragranced blend of silicones that provides a light weight long lasting protection from friction and blisters.

The product is ideal for use in shorter distance events such as half marathons, gym workouts, running, cycling, hikes and every day activities, where you will not be in the water.

The product contains Aloe Vera to help soothe and moisturise skin. It is also non-occlusive (i.e., it does not sit on the surface of the skin and tend to lock in the moisture), water repellent, and non-greasy. It is much easier to clean-up the skin and clothing after use than is the case for products containing a high level of petrolatum.

It does not contain vegetable oils or waxes, mineral oils, or petroleum jelly (petrolatum). Nor does it contain water, meaning that it may be applied to previously abraded skin with minimum discomfort.

IRONMAN® by Bexters Anti Chafe Extreme 
is a blend of silicones, vegetable oils and waxes that creates a thick barrier from friction and chafing ideal for long distance and underwater events; such as endurance events, triathlons, marathons, ultra-marathons, swimming and water sports. When applied to the arms and legs, it also facilitates the easy removal of the wetsuit in triathlons allowing for a fast and smooth transition. The formula is waterproof and specifically designed for wetsuit wearers, containing no mineral oil or petroleum jelly, ensuring the formula won’t damage wetsuits or athletic performance material. Furthermore, Anti Chafe Extreme does not contain water meaning that it may be applied to previously abraded skin with minimum discomfort. The product is supplied in a tub, allowing you to coat the product to the required thickness depending on the occasion. It also enables the product to be easily and hygienically be shared with others.





Information used on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are concerned about your magnesium levels, please contact your GP. Use only as directed.