Nothing can ruin a great run like the acute pain of feeling your skin rubbing raw. While running is not supposed to be a contact sport, runners often have to battle with skin abrasions during their workouts. These abrasions can come from a variety of factors, including sweating, skin-to-skin contact and coarse clothing.
Sweat rashes are an unpleasant but surprisingly common running affliction, according to Sam Murphy in his 2009 book, “Marathon and Half Marathon.” Especially when running outdoors in the heat, sweat rubs against clothing and other parts of the body and can therefore irritate the skin. Among the most common places for runners to get sweat rashes are under the arms, under the breast or in the groin area. To reduce the risk of heat rash, Murphy suggests immediately showering after workouts as well as wearing sweat-wicking, breathable fabrics and using BodyGlide or petroleum jelly on the most commonly affected areas.
Chafing also occurs on the inner thigh, groin area, armpits, nipples, etc. and is also caused by sweating, friction from body parts rubbing together or friction from clothing. The best treatment for chafing is prevention, according to The Walking Site website. It suggests selecting snug fitting (but not tight) clothing. Shorts or jog bras that are too tight or too loose will create friction and rubbing.
When increasing your mileage, all other preventative measures may not work, so you may consider a lubricant. Medline Plus advises using baby powder or petroleum jelly as a lubricant on your chafed areas. You can use these preemptively on your easily irritated areas, such as upper arms and inner thighs, before you start your run.
Staying hydrated during your workout is also important to prevent chafing, according to The Walking Site. While drinking fluids will produce more sweat, if you stop sweating during your run, your sweat will dry into small, gritty crystals that increase skin irritation and chafing.
To soothe running abrasions once they have occurred, treat the area like an open wound. The website Time-To-Run suggests washing and cleaning the wound with an antiseptic to prevent infection and covering the area with a sterile gauze pad that allows the area to breathe until it is healed. The Walking Site also suggests using a diaper rash ointment such as A&D to relieve itching and pain and to promote healing. The ointment keeps your abraded areas lubricated so you can finish your walk or run.