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How Treat Cycling Pimples & Chafing

author image Natalie Stein
Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.
How Treat Cycling Pimples & Chafing
A woman in full cycling gear rides her bike down a big road in the countryside. Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Many avid cyclists have experienced pimples and chafing on their buttocks or inner thighs. Cycling pimples and chafing can be uncomfortable or painful during rides, but proper treatment can relieve symptoms and speed healing. Consult your doctor or a dermatologist if your symptoms do not improve soon or if you suspect that you are developing an infection.

Reduce Friction

Friction, or rubbing, can make pimples and chafing worse. Reduce friction by using petroleum jelly or baby powder on the affected area as soon as you realize that you have pimples or chafing. Pimples are red with white, elevated centers. Intertrigo, or chafing from the rubbing of sweaty skin, is a red-brown rash. Petroleum jelly and baby powder can prevent your condition from getting worse and let you continue to cycle without much pain.


Your doctor may recommend medications for more severe pimples or chafing. Some over-the-counter treatments prevent bacterial infections. Erythrasma is a bacterial infection that can result from intertrigo, and it requires antibiotics. Antibiotics may also be necessary for severe acne and pimples. Inverse psoriasis is a kind of chafing that results from friction, such as your legs against a bicycle seat. Treatment may include topical anti-inflammatories or corticosteroids.

Keep Clean

Keep the area clean where you have pimples and chafing. Pimples can result when your follicles have an excess of oil and dead skin cells in them. Regular cleaning with a gentle cleanser can remove extra oils and dead skin cells to prevent more pimples. Clean clothing also helps prevent pimples. Cleaning the affected area can remove particles of dirt that may cause more rubbing and make chafing worse, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Wear Proper Clothing

Rough clothing can cause more rubbing and exacerbate chafing. When you are bicycling, shorts made from scratchy materials can increase friction between your thighs and the bicycle seat. Shorts made from soft materials, such as 100-percent cotton, can reduce friction and allow your pimples and chafing to heal even while you continue your bicycling program. Technologically advanced wicking fabrics remove sweat from your skin to reduce irritation while cycling.

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