Hands up if you know the feeling of those red hot, inflamed and itchy red patches between your legs all too well? Hands up if you’ve ever walked around looking like you’ve peed your pants, just to stop the pain? Hands up if you’ve ever felt too embarrassed to admit that you experience chaffing to your loved ones? Hands up if you’ve been avoiding skirts or dresses for too long, because you don’t have a thigh gap and you’re not sure how to prevent chafing?
For the vast majority of us the warmer days bring with it not only the joy of sunshine, but sweating and rubbing that can cause all manner of discomfort – and it’s absolutely and completely normal. Unless you’re #blessed with a thigh gap, those two meaty bits of flesh will touch when you move; even Beyonce has been pictured wearing anti-chaffing shorts, proving that it’s not just an issue of fat and more of an issue of biology.
For as long as I can remember, even when I was a lot smaller, I’ve suffered yearly with thigh chaffing and the burning sensation that comes as a consequence. I spent many a summer holiday with friends pretending like everything was normal, tucking my dress between my legs ‘so it didn’t blow up’ or trying to get out of long walks during the hottest part of the day for fear of not being able to bear the pain. It was never something that was spoken about, never something that was normalised, and it’s always been a root cause of my summer discomfort; if only I knew then what I know now – that not only is it as common as heat rash, but you can actually do something about it.
Until I started this blog, until I found some fellow curvy friends, I had no idea that chaffing was such a universal problem and it was ok to talk about it. Even my husband, a slim and fit rugby player with muscly thighs, suffers with chaffing and wears cycling shorts under his kit to prevent it. So why is chafing still such a taboo subject? If it happens to so many of us, and a whole new industry has been born off the back of chub rub prevention, why is it still tinged with embarrassment?
Well no more, because I’m here to tell you it’s nothing to be ashamed about and there is something you can do to stop the summer discomfort so you can enjoy those warm days to their fullest potential.
WHY DO MY THIGHS CHAFE?
It’s just simple physics: when your thighs (or any other body part) rub together the resulting friction can cause micro-tearing in the skin – which leads to irritation, inflammation and even skin erosion. This is exacerbated with moisture or heat, which is why it’s so common and all the more uncomfortable during the warmer months. While it may start as mild irritation or a burning sensation, if left without treatment or protection these inflamed patches of skin can become infected.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT CHAFING?
You need to stop the friction or the contact that’s causing the friction in the first place. Now the conversation around chafing is a lot more open (although we still have a long way to go,) there are so many different solutions available to prevent rubbing or irritation – including:
1. Anti-chafing shorts & bands. These are pretty self explanatory, but basically they’re either lightweight stretchy shorts or elasticated bands that you wear under your usual clothing to stop your skin touching. It can be tricky to find your perfect style, shape and fit (I can’t tell you how many have laddered, rolled up or given me a super sweaty lady area) but when you do they’re an absolute lifesaver. I like wearing these when it’s super hot and I know I’m going to be out all day / am off on a long walk, as there’s no need to faff about re-applying creams; but the downside is that you obviously need to wash them after every wear (treat them like knickers!) so you need a few pairs within your portfolio.
I really like the Big Bloomer Company ‘classic anti-chafing shorts’ as they’re super stretchy, lightweight and do the job brilliantly. They do come up quite big though, so I’ve found I need to downsize. A great alternative is also the Snag Tights ‘chub rub shorts’ which feel like cut-off tights but come in a multitude of colours; they can get a bit sweaty, they do come up small and they have a tendency to roll up, but they’re super affordable.
2. Anti-chafing balms & creams. This kind of solution is more short term and designed for targeted relief, as you have to apply (and re-apply throughout the day) to specific areas, but it’s a great alternative if you don’t fancy adding layers during an already hot and sweaty day. I tend to apply a generous amount between my thighs when I leave for the day, and top up every time I go to the loo – because if you get VERY hot and sweaty it has a tendency to rub away.
Lanacane Anti Chafing Gel has been a long-term go-to of mine, as I love the silky smooth lightweight texture; it’s non-sticky and actually helps my skin to feel super comfortable, even when it’s already a little sore from the day before. Be You Anti Chafing Cream is a recent discovery, and although relatively pricey, it’s great at providing long-lasting relief. You do have to wait for it to dry down before walking away, but it’s super gentle and definitely helps to stop the friction.
3. Talc & powders. I used to go through tonnes of talc and always had a bottle in my bag, as it’s the quickest and easiest way to absorb any excess moisture and stop skin from rubbing together if you’re hot and sweaty. Although this doesn’t provide long-term relief, it does stop chafing in the short term and soak up any of the moisture that could be making it worse.
4. Alternative barrier products. If you go searching, there are hundreds of different recommendations and suggestions for things you can put on your skin to prevent chafing – from Vaseline and Dove deodorant, to Sudacrem and baby lotion. Whatever works for you, go for it.
HOW CAN I SOOTHE CHAFING?
If the inevitable has happened, then it’s important you clean the area thoroughly with a mild cleanser (no harsh fragrances) to remove any moisture and bacteria. Avoid scrubbing or buffing the skin – it will only make it worse. Your only option is then to ‘rest’ the area and apply a very gentle emollient cream to hydrate and soothe the skin, avoiding any broken areas or products with harsh chemicals or fragrances.
Let’s stop the chafing, soothe the burn and get on with our lives.
You don’t have to live with it and you don’t have to be embarrassed about it.
SHOP THE LOOK