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Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 26.01.2023 | 2 min read

Chafing occurs when skin rubs on either clothing or directly on to other skin. The result is red inflamed skin that can have grazes or cuts. It is common and can occur anywhere on the body but the most likely areas are the armpits, thighs, groin and nipples.

Doctor’s advice

Next steps

To avoid chafing it is best to keep the vulnerable areas dry by changing out of wet clothing items, using talcum powder and wearing correctly fitted sweat-wicking fabrics to exercise. If you are prone to thigh chafing, then wearing cycling shorts when wearing skirts or dresses can help prevent it from occurring. You can also purchase petroleum jelly (commonly known as Vaseline) or a specific chafing cream from the pharmacy to use on areas prone to chafing.

To treat chafing, speak to your pharmacist regarding purchasing petroleum jelly or specific cream or lubricant to help. Clean the area using water and, once dry, apply the product. Avoid causing further chafing to the area to allow healing. Normally chafing should heal within a week.

Caidr pharmacists' top tips

The key aims for chafing treatment are to reduce friction and protect skin from wearing down by a combination of sweat and rubbing. It's then to help the skin repair and improve the skin barrier to relieve symptoms and avoid infection.

A petroleum jelly-based product, such as Vaseline or similar, may help provide a protective barrier on the skin to reduce irritation by providing some lubrication, and thus reduce friction from rubbing. A product such as Sudacrem may also help with this, and additionally has some antiseptic properties.

Lanacane anti-chafing gel is a non-greasy alternative that can help protect skin from chafing and provide a smooth dry barrier over the skin to reduce friction. Being non-greasy it has less undesirable effects like being transferred to clothing and underwear.

When should I see my doctor?

You should be able to treat chafing at home with advice from your pharmacist. If the area has not improved after treating for one to two weeks or looks infected (yellow residue, red around the area, or swollen) then seek medical advice from your local doctor.

The doctor will take your medical history, ask about your current symptoms and examine the area. If it is infected they may prescribe an antibiotic cream to apply to the area.

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