Exercise-Related Chafing in the Groin Area

When you are working out and experience a burn on the inside of your thighs near your groin, this is probably chafing. Severe chafing can make walking difficult, so you can forget completing your routine. Put simply, chafing is about friction. If you take some preventative steps before, during and after exercise, you may eliminate the rub and successfully protect the skin.

A female runner is wearing spandex shorts. Credit: tyler olson/iStock/Getty Images

About Chafing

Chafing occurs when something rubs against the skin. While this is a problem that you do get in the groin area, you can also experience chafing under your arms, or anywhere clothing moves against your body. Sweating during exercise adds to the inflammation. The skin becomes irritated from the friction, or chafes. As you exercise, you start to sweat, and the already sensitive skin becomes wet -- furthering the damage. Sweat also contains salt, which will cause stinging. The most effective way to manage chafing is to prevent it.


Preventing chafing is a two-fold process. You must reduce friction and then keep the skin near the groin area dry. The wrong clothing can lead to rubbing. Select clothes for your workout that fit well, but are not tight. You also need to avoid clothes that are too loose. Stay away from clothing made of cotton, because it absorbs moisture. Instead, wear clothing made from synthetic material that breathes such as Lycra. Apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly to the areas prone to chafing. This will reduce the friction. Drink plenty of water as you exercise to dilute sweat, so there is less salt irritation.


The first thing you can do for chafed skin is to take time off exercising until it heals. Serious chafing may put you out of commission for a while. Wash the skin gently with soap and water and then apply an antibacterial ointment to the affected area. This protects the skin from both infection and further irritation. Apply a loose gauze bandage if the skin is open or oozing.


Even if irritation develops during exercise, it may not be due to chafing. There are other conditions to consider as well. Skin with a crusty border may indicate a fungus infection. Folliculitis is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles that may feel similar to chafing. If the skin irritation is persistent, or reoccurring, it is time to see a doctor. If you notice drainage coming from the affected area, or if you run a fever, get medical treatment for the problem. Some breaks in the skin can lead to a life-threatening bacterial infection.

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