Skin Chafing (Skin Rubbing) – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Chafing in simple terms can be explained as rubbing of skin causing painful burning sensation. It is quite common for many people who are overweight to experience itchy painful feeling due to skin rubbing with skin or clothing in many parts of the body. This phenomenon is prominent in regions between the thighs, underarms, below the breasts and groin. In the areas where there is skin folds and moisture skin rubbing can take place causing chafing. There is every chance for the bacteria to grow on it leading to an infection.

Skin Chafing Symptoms :

Chafing or skin rubbing can cause the following symptoms :-

  • Irritation of skin
  • Pain on the affected area
  • Burning sensation
  • Scarring of skin
  • Very itchy feeling
  • In severe cases blisters and red bumps can appear on the affected skin.

Skin Chafing Causes :

It is the friction that actually causes chafing. When skin rubs against another skin it produces friction and internal pressure. In areas wherein there is plenty of folds like underarms, between your thighs, and region beneath the breasts there is often skin rubbing against the clothing. In due course the upper layer of the skin gets injured causing pain and irritation.

  • Rubbing of skin with skin or clothing takes place when the person is overweight or if he/she wears tight clothing.
  • Extreme heat or dryness can also cause friction on the skin leading to chafing.
  • Any kind of skin injury and wounds are prone to chafing.
  • Chafing often begins like irritation but it soon causes microscopic tears in the upper epidermis layer of the skin. After few days skin rubbing takes place constantly affecting the inner layer of the skin that contains several nerve endings which is felt as pain.
  • Long distance walking or jogging or cycling can cause chafing.
  • If you are starting any fitness course, it can cause skin rubbing and irritation.
  • Wearing tight clothing that does not allow any air can cause chafing.
  • Thin skin and very sensitive skin are more prone to chafing than normal skin.
  • Any kind of repetitive movements can affect some part of the skin causing friction and constant rubbing of skin.
  • If you have fully developed muscles you are at increased risk of chafing.

Skin Chafing

Tests :

No diagnosis is needed since pain and skin irritation on the affected part of the skin is visible.

Chafing Treatment :

  • Athletes are highly prone to experience skin irritation and chafing caused by friction.
  • Avoid wearing tight fitting clothing and use only cotton fabrics.
  • You need to very careful in summer and while doing exercises since you are likely to sweat more during this period.
  • Apply lubricant or moisturizing cream generously on the risky areas before you leave home. Petroleum jelly or Vaseline is useful in preventing the friction.
  • If nothing is available you can just spray some talcum powder between your thighs and underarms and other vulnerable areas. Powders can easily absorb excess of sweat or moisture and keep you dry for extended period.
  • You can also apply few drops of coconut oil on the folds area so that skin is kept well lubricated and it reduces friction. This is highly useful to prevent scarring of skin.
  • It is essential for you to stay dry and reduce sweating to prevent chafing.
  • If you are exercising regularly you can wear proper fitting synthetic clothing. Compression stockings and jogging bra are useful to prevent rubbing of skin and chafing.
  • Do not ignore the symptoms of painful and irritated skin since it may lead to multiple tears in the inner layers of the skin. Clean the area with plain water and allow it to dry without using any towel. Apply petroleum jelly liberally on the affected skin area and let it settle on your skin.
  • Chafing can lead to infection if left untreated since bacteria and other micro-organisms would love to grow on it, being a perfect place with moisture and darkness.
  • If the condition gets worse, you can consult your doctor.

Skin Chafing

How To Prevent ?

  1. You cannot totally prevent chafing and rubbing of skin but you can always follow certain precautions.
  2. Maintain basic body hygiene and try to keep the skin folding areas dry and moisture-free.
  3. Use moisturizing cream or any lubricants on the regions like under-arms, groin, between the thighs and under the breasts.

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