Running - Knowledge

How Runners Can Avoid Nipple Chafing and other Chafing Issues

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Nipple chafing is an embarrassing and painful skin abrasion in and around your nipples, affecting both men and women; and the former in particular. It is as common as an ailment such as a common cough, cold and fever. Running and sweat go hand in hand. Thus, after a long run, when your running T-shirt gets drenched with your sweat, you suffer from nipple chafing. The fabric rubs against your bare nipples which result in itching, irritation and in worse case even bleeding! The nipple chafing is definitely not contagious and can be treated at home at the primary stage. It does not cause any permanent damage if it is taken care of at the very onset of its detection.

Who suffers the most from nipple chafing? Well, runners who don’t wear a sports bra are the ones who suffer the most! Mostly male joggers are the ones who are affected with nipple chafing. Women do not fall prey to it much but if they run without a sports bra then the damage is done. With this said, let’s find out a solution to this awkward problem.

Table of Content:

  • Nipple Chafing
  • Symptoms: the Primary Condition of Nipple Chafing
  • Causes of Nipple Chafing
  • 15 Ways to Get Rid Of Chafing
  • Nipple Chafing Treatment 
  • Summing Up

Now having briefly introduced about the problem of nipple chafing, let us discuss in detail about the ‘know-how’ of the same:

Nipple Chafing

We need to stay fit. We love to stay fit. And running is the best exercise that accounts for a good health. It also comes with the benefit of investing almost nothing. However, many of us may find it a bit uncomfortable to run with ease as our nipular area starts to itch or pain. This is the first symptom to locate the problem of nipple chafing. Chaffed nipples start to develop in this way when you first notice a tingling and itching sensation in your nipular are and your nipples hurt.

The area surrounding the mammary gland, in both males and females, is extremely sensitive and is often subjected to the sudden eruption of rashes and infection.  Even though our body has its own defence mechanism to prevent any sort of infection with the help of anti- bodies, frequent ribbing and friction with our clothing while running make the area sore. Due to such soreness, often blisters or fissures develop in the nipples, which you can imagine is utterly disgusting as it sounds. They are painful and embarrassing at the same time. 

nipple chafing
Runner's Plight- Nipple Chafing (source)

But not only the common people but professional sports persons also are subjected to suffer from this bizarre skin infection. However, they have a profound knowledge about how to prevent chafing. Do not presume that just because you are not a celebrity you cannot have a preventive knowledge like them; because we are here to share what we have learned so that we all are benefitted. 

No one talks about chaffed nipples because everyone feels embarrassed to do so. However, it is a delicate matter that must be taken care of. If you do not know how to stop chafing then it may give rise to further problems. Spreading of the infection to a wider area and the deeper layers of your skin would be the last thing you would want to deal with.  

Let us now discuss in detail, the various symptoms that may help you to prevent nipple chafing and chafing rash.

There are several colloquial and commercial names used instead of nipple chafing, like-

  • Runner’s Nipple
  • Surfer’s Nipple
  • Red Eleven
  • Raver’s Nipple
  • Big Q’s
  • Red Nipple 
  • Stingers
  • Weight Lifters Nipple 
  • Gardener’s Nipple 
  • Nipple Chafe

Symptoms: the Primary Condition of Nipple Chafing

Nipple fissure or nipple chafing symptoms can occur in one nipple or both the nipples. Symptoms vary in several respects, like severity and duration.

The chief symptoms of nipple fissure and chafed nipples typically include:

  • redness
  • soreness
  • crustiness as well as scabbing
  • oozing of pus
  • bleeding
  • open cracks as well as  sores
  • pain as well as discomfort
  • blisters and boils
  • inflammatory sensations
  • chafed and dry appearance

Nipple chafing causes a lot of problems; it is not just the health issue that torments us. Bleeding nipples or nipples oozing out pus may spoil your work uniform or even your favourite dress that you hold so dear. People may make you a subject or joke or slur without even trying to understand your problem. But, you must keep in mind that nipple chafing is not a disease. It is as common or minor as a nip or a cut. However, you must also remember that if it is not taken care of at the early stage, it would give rise to a bigger problem.

Symptoms of Nipple Chafing
Symptoms of Chafing (source)

Causes of Nipple Chafing

Now that you are aware of the symptoms, it’s time to hit the rock bottom. Let’s find out the causes of nipple chafing. Yes, we know you would have tons of questions in mind such as- Why would your nipple hurt? What causes sore nipples? What causes itching nipples?

So let’s help you with that! From ill fit clothes to weather conditions nipple hurts or becomes soar due to several reasons, as:

1. Lack of an under garment beneath your jogging apparel is the chief cause. That is why it is more common in men than in women. As women have the habit of wearing a regular bra or sports bra under their jogging tee, it is less likely for them to suffer from such problem. If they too do not wear a bra, especially a sports bra, it would be difficult for them, to prevent nipple itching as well. Men wear tees which are not extremely soft and the coarse material often rubs against the nipular skin irritating it to a great extent. Thus, wear the right clothing is extremely imperative. Your shirts must snugly fit you yet must not be too body hugging and have the option of moving freely.

2. If you already suffer from dermatological problems like Eczema or dermatitis, you are very likely to be prone to nipple chafing.  You must be extremely careful to wear the right clothing and take medicinal preventions if needed. It is advisable that you consult a doctor before taking any medicine.

3. Women who suffer from breast cancer are very prone to develop chaffed nipples while running. This is because the breast area is already delicate and sensitive owing to the growth of a lump and the possibility of having discharge from the nipples at a regular interval. Talk to your doctor immediately if you are suspicious that a breast lump is developing or causing discomfort in the nipples.

4. The weather becomes very challenging with its change, pollution as well as their characteristics with which they affect us. If the weather is very chilly, as in winter, our nipples tend to grow hard and perky and eventually rub more against the surface of our clothing. If you are someone who runs even during the rainy season or in the humid tropical climate, the already rubbed nipples tend to be affected by the rapid growth of bacteria. It is extremely necessary for us to be very careful about your personal hygiene if you are subjected to such weather. Besides, pollution in the atmosphere makes our body even more vulnerable to defend against natural enemies. 

Causes of Chafing
Eczema- Causes for Chafing (source)

Get Rid of Chafing: Top 15 Ways to Follow

Having learned about the different causes that implement chafed nipples, you must be inquisitive to learn about various methods involve in how to prevent chafing

Hence, now we would focus on the following aspects, as

  • how to prevent chafing
  • how to stop chafing

To prevent chafing  or to know how to get rid of chafing you have to keep the following points in mind, as:

1. It is advisable that you ditch cotton or cotton blend because the fibres in the cotton apparels tend to trigger nipple chafing. You may use synthetic or wicking fabrics as these are very convenient for the purpose of running. They are not as coarse as cotton fibres. Also, they do not absorb in your sweat, so, in a way you are less likely to catch a cough and cold.

2. It is important that you invest in a good synthetic or wicking fabric. You may choose from a wide range of jogging clothing from the reputed sports brands available in the market. They sell merchandise belonging to different price ranges, thus, you may be able to spend as per your budget.

3. You should do away with the tags and seams of your tee and bra, going seamless or tag less would help you prevent friction even further. So, just tear it off!

4. This is a surefire way on how to prevent chafing - make sure that your clothing fits you snugly. Too much of fabric or too less of it often causes problems. If your fabric is too baggy it would be rubbing you raw while if it is too tight the clothing or the bra would dig deep into your skin. These not only cause nipple chafing but also discomfort.

5. Never use or put on someone else’s jogging apparel. It is as unhygienic as borrowing someone's toothbrush. Be very pragmatic and invest in your own apparel 

6. Even though it is easier for women to keep their nipples covered with a sports bra, it becomes very critical for men to cover them up.  However, the male readers must not fear, for several trendy products has been created for you. You may put on nipple guards, Bandelettes or nipple band aids in this case. They are readily available in the market and you can buy the ones that seem convenient for you. 

Nipple Bandaids
Prevention is Better - Nipple Band aid 

7. Female runners must definitely replace their old sports bra from time to time. According to sports instructors and doctors, you must definitely change your sports bras every three to four months. Nevertheless, invest in a good sports bra that suits your needs and body type. Do not invest in one following the newly launched design just because they look trendy.

8. It is extremely important that you drink a lot of water each day. Hydrating your body prevents nipple chafing. If you are consuming less water, then the epidermis of your skin becomes very dry. If your skin becomes dehydrated and dry they become very prone to irritation.

9. Use lubricants, gels, Vaseline, and balms to make the nipples and the nipular area greasy.  These products have emollients with not only nourish the nipular skin but also soften the inner layer of the fabric in contact with your skin. Voila! The smooth surface of your skin and clothing been lubricated would also not absorb sweat.

10. If you are wondering and tensed that you cannot use any lubricant because you have an oily skin, or even, if you dislike the greasy feeling, then fear not. Use powder! It is as simple as that. Powder, with its smooth particles, would again prevent nipple abrasion.

Chafing Remedies
Easy Treatment-Chafing Powder 

11. You may also use regular moisturizing lotion according to your skin type. They may not be as effective as lubricants, gels, balms, powders, nipple guards and Bandelettes, but they would help you fight for the same cause to some extent.

12. You must also know the ways to stop thigh chafing while running. Not only your nipples, other areas like thighs and armpits too get chafed badly. So, do not think twice to protect both of your legs from the misery of thigh chafing as well as of lady parts. You may wear compression shorts to prevent your inner thighs from skin abrasions.

Compression shorts
Compression Shorts for Inner Thigh Chafing

13. It is imperative that you trim pubic hair and shave or wax your legs, arms, and armpits regularly. Hair in these areas is very coarse and if they are bunching up between your clothes and skin they would affect your skin with uncomfortable chafing.

14. All women who use tampons or maxi pads with wings would relate to this point for certain. These products are manufactured with the best quality sterilized cotton; however, they are very coarse for our skin. Most women would suffer from chafing in the private lady parts if they do not stop their running routine even during their menstrual days. Exercises definitely alleviate period cramps as they release a good amount of endorphins. However, if you notice that running during those days is affecting you with chafing and irritation, take a break from the usual routine for a few days.

15. Women who have undergone old age or child birth or perhaps are in their pregnancy period often are noticed to struggle and cope with the problem of incontinence. Due to these three reasons, the muscular structures around the sphincters and pelvis lose their elasticity and are weakened. It makes them face the difficulty of controlling urination. However, we advise you that you need not be afraid. Try using urine protection pad if you are facing this sort of a trouble. Besides, you may take help of a gym trainer to teach you a few routine exercises pertaining to your problem. These exercises would help you to regain the elasticity of sphincter muscles as well as pelvic muscles to some extent, if not completely.

Nipple Chafing Treatment 

Let us now focus on how to treat chafing.

It is very important to have the knowledge to about treat the affected area if you already are suffering from nipple chafing. You may follow the following tips in order to treat your chafed nipples:

  • If your irritation is persisting then it is advisable that you take an off for a couple to days to calm the irritation down. Again, you must not delay from visiting a skin doctor if it refuses to go away even after taking breaks.
  • Personal hygiene is your primary saviour! So take baths regularly to prevent the building up of any bacterial or fungal growth. It would be even more beneficial if you take a shower in lukewarm water after a run.
  • Try to soothe your affected nipples with creams and ointments containing zinc oxides. If you want to opt for a medicinal one. Do not experiment with your instinctive choice or that of the shopkeeper’s.  Because you may be allergic to a chemical family and that may trigger other problems.
  • If you have baby creams or lotions that are meant to prevent diaper rashes, you may use those as well. They are very effective as they contain oxides of zinc.
  • If you are a person with green fingers start tending an Aloe Vera plant or more. If you already have one, that is really good. If an Aloe Vera plant lacks from your garden, then bring one home. Applying freshly cut Aloe Vera gel directly on your chafed nipples for instant chafing relief.
Nipple Chafing Treatment
Soothing Aloe Vera gel for Nipple Chafing
  • Fear not if gardening seems too hectic for you. Keep pro-biotic yoghurt or fresh curd in your fridge. Applying it directly to your chafed nipples would bring down the irritation and you would have instant chafing relief.
  • It is advisable that you use anti bacterial soaps which are most likely free of parabens and sulphates every day. They would help you to treat abrasions at the primary level.
  • Keep a small tub of white petroleum gel handy while jogging.  Application of such products, embalm chafed nipples.
  • You may also use anti bacterial ointments that are of drugstore brands. Keeping one handy while running would help you if the necessity arises. You get anti chafing creams at drug stores to treat chafing rash.
  • You may wrap a piece of an ice cube in a damp cloth and dab the affected area slowly. Do not over do as too much of cold temperature as that would dry out the area even more. Also, remember not to apply the ice cube directly on to the affected area as that may lead to a further problem.
  • If you have calamine lotion handy then dab a bit of it on to the affected area for instant relief. 

If you notice that even after following the above-mentioned tips for a couple of days, you are not relieved; and it is getting worse stop them. If you notice that your nipples have swollen or got cracked, they are oozing out blood or pus, and if you are having a worse burning or itching sensation, you must definitely seek a medical help. Try to book an appointment as fast as possible.

Summing Up

No one likes to have their clothing stained with blood. Neither does someone like to see someone else’s clothing blotched with blood stains. It is embarrassing for everyone to bleed or scratch in the nipular area, irrespective of our gender. Be your family or friend, people would not empathize with your problem if they themselves do not suffer from the same. Sympathy from them would only make you feel worse. 

Why give them a chance to point at you? Rather, why would you feel low about something which can be prevented and treated? This is not a problem that everyone faces, but none the less, this definitely is a common problem. Feel free to talk about such irritation the very first instant you get a suspicion. And, of course, take necessary action to treat it.

As we all know that “prevention is better than cure”, try to prevent the possibility of any such irritation, be it in the nipular area, or your inner thighs, or the bikini line, or your lower bust area or even in your arm pits. Don't let chafing disrupt your running routine, instead fight against it with our easy chafing treatments. We hope you are now clear with how to prevent chafing and the various treatments to keep chafing at bay.

Keep the faith and follow the preventive measures to never stop running!

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Running - General
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