How to Treat & Prevent Skin Chafing

You’re back from the gym and proud of yourself but now your inner thighs are red and raw and the skin under your bra is burning.

Welcome to chafing, medically called intertrigo, a common but annoying byproduct of being active and sweaty.

Common signs include itching, inflamed skin, burning and even bleeding or swelling. Also, raw skin can invite a skin infection and even painful blisters.


Wash affected areas with a gentle body wash or plain water. Pat dry, don’t rub, and let skin air out for a few moments to make sure all moisture is gone. Use an ice pack if needed.

Use a moisturizer to help heal wounds or irritation and prevent skin from drying out. Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Apply a few drops with a cotton pad or mix a few drops with coconut oil to help moisturize.

To treat overnight, apply an ointment such as petroleum jelly or a zinc oxide topical (used in diaper rash cream) at bedtime.

Treat chafed skin twice a day. If you need something stronger, you can use an over-the-counter corticosteroid but check with your doctor. Natural products such as aloe vera, coconut or olive oil or CBD shea butter are a good alternative.


Reduce friction and prevent abrasions by applying a powder (without talc) or a thick, slippery product like petroleum jelly on chafe-prone areas. Products with silicone, beeswax or shea butter also work.

Don’t rely on oily lotions, which are absorbed quickly and won’t last.

Moisture-trapping cotton is not your friend when it comes to working out. Instead, choose moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics like polyester or Lycra. They swiftly wick sweat to the fabric’s outer surface and dry rapidly.

When possible, change your sweat-soaked clothing and put on dry, soft clothing. Your skin will thank you.