Home Fashionably Fit Chub Rub: The Best Ways to Stop Chafing and Exercise Comfortably

Chub Rub: The Best Ways to Stop Chafing and Exercise Comfortably

by Erika Nicole Kendall

It’s bound to happen, sooner or later—chub rub, more ‘officially’ known as chafing, rears its ugly head and causes rash, irritation, or otherwise uncomfortable dry patches of skin in places it just doesn’t belong.

And, for those of us with a little more skin to account for here, it can happen anywhere. Thigh rub, tummy rub, on your back, between your arm and your side (as in, if you swing your arms when you walk), along your panty line between your thighs, under your breasts… it literally can happen anywhere. That’s what makes it so damn evil.

It’s lovingly referred to as “chub rub,” but I prefer to call it “the damn devil.” My post-baby tummy definitely folds down where my c-section scar is, and the chafing and irritation that happens there was ungodly before I realized what was truly happening. That’s when I realized I very well may need to blog about it—I’m sure there’s at least one other person out there who might want to know some of the best ways to keep it as far away as possible.

So much of the talk about chafing centers around thigh rub, and is about being comfy while you’re trying to be cute and sexy for sundress season, so there are all these jazzy little lingerie-esque suggestions for how to keep your thighs from getting a little too cozy. (If you use my link to check ’em out, Amazon will pay me a few coins for referring you!)

That ain’t gon’ help you in the gym, or on the field, or in class, or wherever it is you’re trying to get sweaty and gross. I mean, sweaty can be sexy too, but when you’re putting in work, you’re not trying to be sexy—you’re trying to be effective… and lacy fancies ain’t gon’ cut it.

It doesn’t matter what size you are, either—if your thighs touch, regardless of how full they are, you can experience rubbing. If your breasts are constantly rubbing underneath because of the way your sports bra smashed them—by the way, get a new sports bra!—you might be experiencing chafing damage, too.

It’s important to deal with chafing before it starts to become a more serious problem, because frankly it can discourage you from staying committed to your exercise routine. The dry skin can harden and callous, peel and be left feeling raw. The abrasive rashes ultimately become so painful they’re unbearable, and could make even the most committed of us say “Aw, hell nawl. Not today.” It’s okay. It happens.

But it doesn’t have to. Here are the few things I do to help keep chafing and irritation at bay, and keep my skin smooth, soft, and rub-free:

1) When you’re not exercising, keep the area moisturized properly. Dry skin is far more likely, in my personal experience, to chafe and become injured than properly moisturized skin. When you jump in the shower, use a less-drying soap that doesn’t leave any flaking or film on your skin, pat yourself dry while still leaving some moisture, then use a reliable moisturizer while your skin is still wet. Follow that up with another session of patting your skin dry, and boom.

2) Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. During exercise, sweat combined with the rubbing of your workout clothes can cause little pile-ups of dead and dry skin. If you’re not showering immediately after your workout—it happens!—these little pile-ups can dry and become “tags” of dry skin that can callous, just like the callouses you get on the bottom of your feet. If you don’t take care of them in the shower before long, the skin becomes dry, dark, and can harden that way, leaving long-term discoloration. These are invitations for that raw-feeling rash situation, raised swelling, and worse. Exfoliating is an invaluable way to stay on top of that.

Lots of people use different kinds of oil and raw sugar or oil and rock salt blends, and those are great for many different parts of the body—homemade body scrubs are an effective and inexpensive way to help keep the dead skin for piling up while also keeping the skin moisturized and soft. However, they might not be usable for every region of your body, and I’m thinking specifically of your—whispers—genitals.

If you experience chafing in your panty line area—more on that later—you might not want to use something with ingredients that can potentially upset the ph balance of your genitals. I’m just saying…I’d be careful and do my due diligence, checking up on the ingredients of everything in your scrub to make sure it’s safe. My go-to for inner-thigh exfoliation has always been a simple scruffy loofah mitt and lots of warm water—after the water has been running over my skin while washing and rinsing my hair for a while, a good scrub-a-dub-dub post-soap down always does the trick. Following it up with a good, light moisturizer will have you feeling magical.

Yes, it’s that serious.

3) Try to find workout gear that will help separate skin and keep it from touching. Sometimes, if your workout tights don’t fit properly, they don’t fully reach your crotch, and will not properly separate your thighs and stop the skin-to-skin touching. Or, even worse, sometimes the seam on the inside isn’t laying flat and winds up becoming abrasive enough to rub against both thighs and cause irritation. This alone is reason to ditch the tights until you can find a pair that accommodates your body, or skip the tights altogether for a good fitting pair of sweatpants.

The same can—and should—be said for underwear. We’ve talked about workout underwear before (and whether or not you wear them), but it must be restated—not all underwear can be worn during workouts. Sometimes the seams and outer hems are tooabrasive for the constant friction that comes with active movement. Sometimes, honestly, they just aren’t built for anything beyond looking cute. That’s why training undies exist.

4) Cornstarch is your best friend. We talked about baby powder before, and how many people use it for odor control, especially when we’re talking about sweaty genitals in a public environment. But a lot of us also use it to help reduce chafing.

But, because baby powder often includes talc and talc has been very clearly linked to increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, we don’t use talc-based baby powder anymore.

So, instead, we use powders that have no talc whatsoever, and we’ve replaced that with powders that are pure cornstarch. It not only absorbs any sweat that might otherwise irritate your skin and keeps you feeling drier, but it also creates a fine layer of small microbeads that rub against one another, and keeps your skin from rubbing against itself in an uncomfortable manner. I keep a bottle of Gold Bond in my purse at all times and, instead of just squirting a giant puff of it randomly in the direction I want it to land, I tap a little of it into my hand and rub it exactly where I want it to go. I not only save more money this way by not running out so fast (remember, cheapskate!), but I can ensure better coverage than just squirting blindly.

Um, pause?

It’s also worth noting that, when it comes to genitals, I’d be careful about what I use near my goodies, specifically because of what we learned about talc and the reactions it potentially causes while traveling through the Fallopian tubes. Since we learned this solid lesson from talc, let’s not use things like deodorant or gels or other fun stuff near our inner thigh/vaginal area. And, while cornstarch is what I use, I can’t guarantee that it doesn’t have the same effect as talc—the research simply hasn’t been done. This is why I’m very careful about where I put it. You should be, too.

I’d also be careful using goopy-gel and gliding things in the gym or anywhere where you share equipment, because it quickly becomes a safety hazard. Moisturizers and creams with too much slip makes gym equipment less secure, and can leave everyone at risk, you included.

Those are my anti-chafing tips—what are yours?

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Stephanie November 13, 2018 - 2:31 AM

The one problem with gold bond is that it does contain talc. Read up on that one but cornstarch is a great natural alternative to talc. Arrowroot starch or tapioca starch. Baking soda. Oat flour. Commercial baby powder alternatives are all great. Just wanted to put that out there. I have chafing in those areas too.

Stephanie November 13, 2018 - 2:39 AM

I wanted to add that I exfoliate with a sea salt mineral oil mixture that has a vanilla cookie aromatic and all I do with that is gentle rub and then warm water rinse, not too hot because that can irritate skin too and blot with towel and wear comfortable fitting clothing overnight and by the next day its soft skin. I use the cornstarch as well. Oh and for tough areas such as knees and elbows I use a thing called bag balm. I know this sounds crazy but it used to be used for cow utters because of chafing from peoples rough hands overworking them

Erika Nicole Kendall November 17, 2018 - 8:46 AM

The version I have doesn’t, so I’d encourage people to check the labels to be sure. And, if anyone wants more details on the trouble with talc, click here.

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