Chafing is skin irritation that occurs where skin rubs against skin, clothing, or other material.
When rubbing causes skin irritation, these tips may help:
- Avoid coarse clothing. Wearing 100% cotton fabric against your skin may help.
- Reduce friction against your skin by wearing the right kind of clothing for the activity you are doing (for example, athletic tights for running or cycling shorts for biking).
- Avoid activities that cause chafing unless they are part of your typical lifestyle, exercise, or sports routine.
- Wear clean and dry clothing. Dried sweat, chemicals, dirt, and other debris may cause irritation.
- Use petroleum jelly or baby powder on chafed areas until the skin heals. You can also use these before activities to prevent chafing in easily irritated areas, for example, on your inner thighs or upper arms before running.
Skin irritation from rubbing
Franks RR. Skin problems in the athlete. In: Madden CC, Putukian M, McCarty EC, Young CC, eds. Netter's Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 40.
Smith ML. Environmental and sports-related skin diseases. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 88.
Review Date 7/8/2023
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.