What is Chafing?
Chafing is what happens to your skin due to stress on it caused by friction and moisture. Your skin is made up of three distinct layers, the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis, when subjected to friction and moisture these delicate layers of your skin wear away creating a chafing wound that can range from mild to severe.
What Causes Chafing?
The most common causes of skin chafing are:
- Exercise and strenuous activities.
- Certain activities like intense exercise may result in positions or movements that cause friction to develop between skin, equipment, or clothing.
- Hot or humid environments.
- Excessive sweating can cause inflammation and rashes in certain areas that experience friction.
- Being obese or overweight.
- This accumulation of fat causes folds to develop resulting in skin that is in a constant state of moisture & friction between other skin or clothing.
- Clothing made of certain types of fabric (cotton, denim, leather, etc…) as well as tight, restrictive, or wet clothing as well as can cling to the skin or bunch up in areas causing friction every time you move.
What Are The Symptoms of Chafing?
A feeling of sore or extremely tender skin with a burning sensation is the most common symptom but chafing can range from mild to severe in certain cases.
Mild chafing symptoms may not make themselves known right away. Upon removing your workout gear or getting home from a long day on your feet you may notice that certain areas (thighs, groin, underarms, nipples, feet) feel tender and raw. This stinging or burning feeling may be unnoticeable until the affected area is touched or rubs against clothing or another object. As the skin heals it may become dry and flaky as well as itch. Proper care is needed to ensure that mild cases of chafing do not develop into severe ones.
- A hot or sunburn like feeling over the affected area
- Excessive irritation
Severe chafing symptoms will show up after extremely strenuous activities or when previously mild chafing was not properly treated or ignored. The skin may become swollen and raised like a welt, this is due to inflammation of the skin caused by not only injuring the top most layers of the epidermis but the underlying layers and in some cases the muscle as well. Cracked, broken, or bleeding skin is an indication that the epidermis has been worn down to an extreme degree causing a wound that may require special care and even antibiotic creams or ointments. Blisters or sores may also occur in extreme cases of chafing, these also require special care and may need to be wrapped and protected to ensure they do not pop or burst causing an open wound that could lead to an infection.
- Swelling of the affected area
- Cracked, or broken skin
- Blisters or sores
Click on the links below to check out our extensive guides for Men & Women on chafing prevention and treatment.