Beauty

What is chafing and what causes it?

“Chafing is the term given to the form of irritant dermatitis that occurs in the skin after repeated friction. It tends to happen most commonly in the skin folds and between the thighs where friction, heat and moisture combine to wreak havoc on your skin barrier,” says Maguiness. Paik notes that tight or rough clothing can also lead to chafing.

How can people prevent chafing?

“To prevent chafing, it is important to focus on optimizing your skin barrier in those areas. Using a moisturizer in these locations right after you shower or bathe can help lock water in and restore and strengthen the local skin barrier,” says Maguiness. “I like to recommend a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic cream or ointment based moisturizer for these areas.” Maguiness and Paik also recommend opting for weather appropriate clothing and avoiding fabrics that may cause additional friction.

What ingredients should you look for in an anti-chafing cream?

“Since the goal is to help moisturize the skin and reduce friction, you want something thick. My preference is to reach for an ointment or balm for these areas. Ingredients such as petrolatum, glycerin, coconut and sunflower oil are great for this purpose,” says Maguiness. She also recommends to avoid formulas with fragrances or essential oils, as these can exacerbate irritation.

If someone does experience chafing, how should they treat it?

“If the skin is red or itchy, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can help,” says Paik. Maguiness also says applying a “plain petrolatum based ointment, such as Vaseline or Aquaphor” can help to treat irritation. However, Maguiness notes “If you’ve developed blisters, swelling or crusting, see your doctor as this could be a sign of secondary infection.”

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