At some point in our lives, we will experience the dry and itchy irritation that is chafe. Chafe is so common, we've become used to dealing with it, however, not many of us are aware of how to treat it. There are many products we can purchase to prevent thigh chafing, but how are we supposed to know the correct way to treat it when the internet holds such differing opinions?
A quick Google search on chafe treatments will bring up pages of products and advice. Most of the latter is contradictory. While this might seem to be of little help, chafing rash is simpler than you might think to treat.
Chafe is caused by excessive friction between skin and skin and skin and clothing. Once the skin starts breaking apart, it is prone to infection by the bacteria that your skin comes into contact with on a daily basis. Add moisture, like sweat, into the mix and our skin becomes a breeding ground for all kinds of germs.
Chafe requires a soothing and gentle moisturizer, time for the skill cells to repair, sanitization, and time to dry out to heal. How are we supposed to keep the affected area hygienic, moisturized, and dry? Great question...
What not to do
In order to keep our skin sanitized and free from infection, we're inclined to reach for an alcohol solution (like isopropanol). That's what hospitals use, right? Unfortunately, while isopropanol is fantastic for cleaning the area of skin around an open wound or a doctor's hands in preparation for surgery, it should not be used on chafe or other causes of broken or damaged skin. The chemicals are far too harsh and only serve to prolong the healing time.
How do we keep our skin dry on a usual day? We rub it with a towel, a napkin, a paper towel, etc. If we rub the chafe rash, the affected skin will flake away and we'll be left with smooth skin, right? While this is somewhat true, rubbing away at flaking skin will cause more damage to the overworked area. Rubbing (friction) is just one of the reasons we got chafe in the first place...
Moisture plays a key role in causing chafe, so how do we know what the right kind of moisture is? Lathering yourself in a store-bought cream seems ideal, but oftentimes these products are filled with alcohol and chemicals that can do more harm than good. Have you ever wondered why your moisturizer stung when it was applied to sunburn (or chafe)? That's because moisturizers contain acidic ingredients like fragrances (no matter how natural they might be, such as lemon juice) that cause a reaction in our skin when it's sensitive.
The real solutions
Gently wash the area in warm water with a mild soap. If the soap you're using stings, clean the area thoroughly and just use water.
After cleaning the affected area, pat your skin dry with a soft and clean towel.
After drying the affected area, apply a thin layer of Vaseline (or another petroleum jelly-based product).
If clothes created the chafe, try to avoid them rubbing on the area as much as possible. Use chafing underwear to protect your skin if necessary, by investing in chafe guards from No More Chafe to protect your skin.