An unfortunate result of spending a lot of time on our bikes is the all-too-common saddle sore, which is named for—as you might guess—sores forming after long stretches “in the saddle” whether it be on horseback or your favorite road bike.
There is no single type of saddle sore. Everything from lumps, abrasions, rashes and with differences in severity and placement, can be considered saddle sores. The common thread among them is that these issues present themselves in areas that make contact with the “saddle” (typically inner thighs, for example), combined with the moisture, heat, and friction from sitting on a bike.
The best solution for a saddle sore is to work to prevent them altogether. How do you do this? Some tips we recommend include:
- Inspect your gear. This includes both your bike, your actual saddle, and what you wear. Sometimes just riding a different bike or saddle every once in a while can vary the pressure points you’re hitting, but in other cases, you may want to look at everything overall. Do you have the right fit for your bike? Do you have the best saddle for your body type? Finally, have you considered a good pair of bike shorts to reduce friction in that area?
- Keep moving—while staying stable. For when you’re actually riding your bike, make sure you’re moving around a bit and changing your position to relieve pressure points from constantly hitting the saddle. One great way to do this is to stand up more often to get yourself out of the saddle. However, this does not mean you should be rocking around your saddle—stay stable and in control of your position when you are making contact—rocking too much could just cause more irritation and put you at risk for sores.
- Use Body Glide Cycle. Our anti-chafing balm was designed to help prevent saddle sores by reducing friction and irritation from rubbing. Put it on clean, dry skin or on your shorts.
- Stay clean. This applies to both your body and your gear. Starting with your shorts, make sure you are always wearing a clean pair. Re-using one without washing—even if you only rode in them once—still puts you at risk for bacteria, extra moisture, and more. Try to hit the shower soon after your rides or, at the very least, change out of your shorts and consider traveling with shower wipes if you are not able to bathe right away. This will help keep bacteria from lingering on the skin.
- Eat right. Proper nutrition can help with total body inflammation and even the appearance (or severity) of saddle sores. It never hurts to monitor what you put into your body, especially when you are fighting something like saddle sores.
We hope these prevention tips help you avoid saddle sores altogether, but what happens when it is too late and one’s already formed? Well, due to the differences of types of saddle sores—and the fact that they aren’t easily defined altogether—treatment is not always a one-size, fits all solution.
However, consider some of these treatment methods to start.
- Clean the area. Keep that area as clean as possible with warm, soapy water. After cleaning, make sure the area is completely dry as well.
- Take the proper time to heal. This means that yes, you might have to take some time away from your bike to avoid lingering discomfort. You might hear stories of cyclists who choose to ride through saddle sores. If you are not a professional, it probably isn’t worth it to push through discomfort and potentially make your problem worse. Wait it out and combine with another form of treatment. You will thank yourself later!
- Use Body Glide Cycle. This can aid in your treatment just like it can help with prevention, by helping avoid infection and soothe skin.
- Look at other ointments. Triple paste or ichthammol ointments are both cited as useful for saddle sores. Triple paste is often used for diaper rashes, but its healing properties and ability to help with calming skin make it a great ointment for saddle sores. Ichthammol ointment, on the other hand, can be useful for inflammation, in addition to anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.
- Respect the sore. Finally, no matter what you do for treatment, take these sores seriously as they can become infectious. You will want to seek medical care or consult your doctor for further treatment if the sore does not go away, becomes more painful or warm to the touch, or if you see red streaks starting to form around the area.
Any experienced cyclist has dealt with the inconvenience of saddle sores, but some proper prevention methods can be used to avoid them keeping you in the saddle for miles and miles.