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Chafing in the Inner Legs for Runners

by
author image J. Renae Brinkman
Renae Brinkman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a Bachelor of Science from Purdue University in dietetics and nutrition, fitness and health. Brinkman has a passion for health promotion and disease prevention and has written numerous educational materials and articles on nutrition, fitness and health for health and wellness organizations in the Nashville area.
Chafing in the Inner Legs for Runners
The proper running shorts help protect runners from chafing. Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Whether you are training for a marathon or just enjoy running as a form of exercise, chafing between the inner legs can cause enough discomfort to make you want to quit. This is a common problem among many runners, both new and experienced. However, by wearing the right clothing and keeping the area between your thighs free of excess moisture, you can eliminate chafing and get back on the pavement.

The Cause of Chafing

Chafing can be caused by skin rubbing against skin or against clothing. When this friction continues over a long period of time it can become painful and cause the skin to become irritated, red and even to bleed. According to an article published in the May 2004 issue of "The Physician and Sport Medicine," chafing occurs most often along the inner thighs, nipples, neck, groin and feet. It is found more often in individuals with larger thigh muscles or those with excess fat along the inner thighs. Excessive sweating and ill-fitting shorts can enhance the problem. Athletes who commonly suffer from chafing in addition to runners include bicyclists and tennis players, most likely due to the large thigh muscles they develop while training.

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Wear the Right Fabrics

According to the National Institutes of Health, wearing certain fabrics, such as cotton, can soak up the moisture caused by sweating. The increase in moisture then increases the friction between your thighs or clothing. Wear fabrics that are made of synthetic fibers, such as polyester or spandex. They help to wick away moisture, which in turn decreases friction. Biker shorts are usually made with these fibers. If you do not feel comfortable wearing spandex, wear them under another pair of shorts. Also, wear a clean pair of shorts for every workout and even when switching between workouts. Dirty or soiled clothing can leave behind debris that can increase friction against the skin when exercising.

Use Lubricants or Powders

To decrease irritation, you can try applying a lubricant to your inner thighs. A readily available and affordable product often used is petroleum jelly. An alternative to lubricants is powders to keep your inner legs free of sweat. Common examples are alum or talcum powder -- baby powder. Many other lubricants and powders available are specifically designed for runners and other athletes.

Allow Time to Heal

If the irritation has caused discomfort, redness or bleeding, allow some time for the area to heal. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends cleaning the infected area with water and patting it dry. If the irritation remains or appears inflamed, contact a health-care provider for treatment, which might include medicated ointment.

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