Nothing ruins a day quite like thigh chafing. You probably barley notice it at first, that building stinging. It’s a hot day; a day for shorts or a skirt, and you probably aren’t even going to walk that far.
And then it starts—a subtle discomfort that feels like you could relieve it easily with a well-timed breeze, building into a pain severe enough to make you walk bow-legged.
From wearing a skirt in the summer to ill-fitting clothing to a common side-effect of pregnancy, you can encounter a chafing rash countless ways. Maybe, like me at 18, you decided to go on a water ride in the June heat of Universal Studios, and by the end of the day swear to never wear another pair of jean shorts for the rest of your life.
No matter how you first encountered it, thigh chafing can be nearly debilitating. But thankfully, it’s easy to prevent.
Dressing the Part
New York dermatologist Elaine Kung, MD explains that trapped moisture that accumulates from sweat is a primary cause of all chafing rashes. “I believe chafing is due to sweating and skin rubbing on skin or against our clothing,” Dr. Kung explains.
This irritates our skin even after the sweat is dried. The tacky, sticky feeling to skin increases the amount of drag on the skin as it rubs against itself or clothing.
According to Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD, clothing that reduces moisture can help prevent chafing. “Anyone can experience chafing regardless of their body type, and thigh chafing is a particular issue that concerns many,” Dr. Schlessinger explains. “If thigh chafing is a problem for you, try wearing specialty pants or shorts designed to be more breathable and less constricting to prevent moisture from accumulating. Spandex bottoms may tend to allow for smoother movements and less friction (which in turn, decreases chafing).”
New York dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD adds you may need to avoid tighter fitting clothing if chafing is a common concern. “Wearing breathable fabrics and loose-fitting clothing can also reduce friction and prevent chafing.”
Body Glide Body ($9)
Recommended by both Dr. Henry and Dr. Kung, Body Glide is a sweat– and water-resistant balm meant to prevent chafing, irritation, and raw skin. This child-safe product glides on easily to create an invisible barrier between your skin and the rest of the world.
Derived from plant waxes, Body Glide’s formula allows sweat to escape while keeping the skin itself dry and protected. It can be easily applied to any area of the skin that experiences chafing rash and the glide-on applicator keeps your hands clean.
The formula is fragrance-free and vegan, and goes on dry and grease-free. Body Glide is great for even the toughest conditions, and has been partnered with the USA Triathlon since 2001.
Offering guaranteed long-term protection, this Anti-Chafe stick is suitable for sensitive skin types. Packed with shea butter, coconut oil, and collodial oatmeal, this chafe guard’s formula is non-greasy and sweat-resistant.
Recommended by Dr. Henry to prevent thigh chafing, this fragrance-free balm “creates a barrier between the skin and clothing to prevent irritation,” Dr. Henry says.
According to First Aid Beauty, 96% of reviewed customers agreed their Anti-Chafe Stick was long lasting enough to protect them for 10,000 steps.
This antiperspirant is good for more than just your underarms, as Dr. Kung recommends Dove’s Advanced Care to prevent chafing, too. “Waxy antiperspirant sticks for sensitive skin that prevents moisture and friction will help with chafing,” Dr. Kung explains.
Formulated with 1/4 moisturizers, this deodorant stick is gentle on sensitive skin while still providing 48 hours of odor protection. For your thighs, that means long-lasting chafing prevention that can stand up to a busy day.
Dove’s Advanced Care line of antiperspirants comes in a range of spray-on and stick formulas. For thigh chafing, the classic stick will provide the best protection.
Reformulated without talc, Gold Bond’s Body Powder tackles itch, cools skin, and controls odor. Safe to apply to sensitive skin, the menthol formula provides temporarily relieves pain and itch. When it comes to thigh-chafing, the powder helps dry and cool irritated skin, making it the perfect relief when chafing has already started.
Safe for children 2 and up, the medicated powder can also relieve itch and pain from insect bites and sunburn. It’s always been a staple in my grandmother’s purse, even back at The Universal Studios Thigh Disaster of 2015. Dr. Henry recommends it to absorb excess moisture and reduce friction.
Formulated by Dr. Joel Schlessinger along with his son, Dr. Daniel Schlessinger, this Body Balm is formulated with hydrocortisone to heal even deep irritation. The balm is fragrance-free, making it perfect for sensitive skin, while shea butter and cocoa butter moisturize and soothe.
Dr. Schlessinger explains the Body Balm “can help soothe irritation and aid in healing,” he explains. “Plus, it’s a convenient stick formulation, so you can have it on hand just in case chafing happens or for other irritations and dry skin conditions.”
Along with preventing irritation, this balm can also help calm skin condition flares like eczema and psoriasis.