Chub Rub

Ah, summer, the warm nights, hanging at the beach with friends, relaxed schedules, and Chub Rub. Wait?! What?! Yes, Chub Rub: the not-so-wonderful companion of warm weather, summer skirts, and thighs a-rubbin’. *sigh* It’s not just happening to me though. Even my skinny friends have complained about Chub Rub and the associated pain that comes with it, which makes me think that our cute little nickname for this skin condition isn’t really the most accurate representation. But, since I’m not in charge of such things as handing out cute nicknames for irritating skin conditions, and for lack of anything better, Chub Rub it is. So, for about three months out of the year, I actually have something in common with my runner friends and I can pretend to be one of them…I just can’t get those number stickers that say I ran a certain distance.

Chub Rub is actually no discriminator of persons based on size, physical fitness, or activity; it can affect anyone at anytime – there are a lot of different scenarios that can come into play and cause Chub Rub. Even an ear bud cord, over time, can rub skin raw.

What is chub rub?

Basically Chub Rub is diaper rash, minus the diaper. It is a superficial burn caused by the friction of chafing. In the medical profession it is referred to as Skin Chafing. Anytime you combine heat, moisture, friction, and skin you are going to have an area that is vulnerable to Chub Rub. The most common areas affected are the thighs (duh), underarms, groin, and chest. For men, the chest really breaks down to nipples rubbing against material. In woman, chafing can occur anywhere the bra elastic traps sweat, and/or rubs the skin.

We set ourselves up for Chub Rub. Whenever circumstances allow for repetitive movement in a limited area over an extended period of time, we are going to be prone to Chub Rub. For example: opting for loose fitting clothing, which seems like the right choice to a body-conscious person, is actually going to exacerbate the problem. The best solution for Getting Rid of Chub Rub is to prevent it in the first place, though you can treat it if you’ve got it.

Best Ways to Get Rid of Chub Rub

Keep in mind, this is a superficial burn; it needs to be treated. Be very gentle when washing the affected area. Don’t use any body scrubs or wash clothes. You don’t want to add to the abrasion that has already happened. Carefully dry the skin. Keep it lightly covered, if you can, and avoid tight clothing. If you have open sores you might want to cover them with non-stick bandages that you can hold in place with sports pre-wrap. Watch the area for signs of infection. A topical ointment can be applied once the sores have scabbed over. This is important to keep the skin from drying out. Some options include:

You will need to take some time off from your activities to give your skin time to heal. This is important so that you don’t make the situation worse. In the long run (see what I did there?), the key to getting rid of Chub Rub is prevention.

There are a number of steps we can take to prevent Chub Rub that range from very simple fashion choices, to actually stepping foot into a sporting goods store and finally admitting you are (*gasp*) a runner. Let’s start with the easy stuff first.

Fashion Choices to prevent Chub Rub

Two words: Compression. Shorts. I interviewed a number of friends who are avid runners, even on hot and humid days (who does that?). Every single person suggested wearing some sort of lightweight, body hugging shorts to cut down on Chub Rub. They don’t necessarily have to be compression shorts, but they do need to fit snugly to the body curves. And no cotton! Apparently, cotton bunches and that is… well… a whole other article. The same goes for tops too, body hugging is best. As a general rule, if your clothes don’t move, they can’t rub. I know this seems counter-intuitive to the body-conscious person, but in the case of preventing Chub Rub, this is the key to keeping the chaffing under control.

There are also such things called NipGuards&reg which can be used to protect the tender skin of the nipple. NipGuards&reg were designed by marathon runners with the serious runner in mind, but they really are for anyone experiencing the painful abrasions of Chub Rub. They use a medical adhesive which helps them stay put during almost any kind of grueling conditions you could possibly face. Trust me, marathon runners are extreme athletes, and what they put themselves through for the fun of it is nothing short of mind boggling. They designed this product to meet their specific needs, and endorse it. I have no doubt it will protect what it is designed to protect. You can buy Nipguards on Amazon.

In a pinch, Petroleum Jelly, Band-Aids, or medical tape will also work, but most runners will tell you that you will have to reapply these products frequently through a single workout because none of these product were designed to function under the extreme conditions of a workout.

For women, finding a good sports bra is the great quest. An ill-fitting bra is going to leave a woman more vulnerable to Chub Rub in any area the elastic rides. Until someone invents the perfect bra, using KT tape in the areas where the bands of the bra cause the most friction seems to be the best option. KT tape is designed to withstand repetitive movements and should stay in place for the duration of any activity.

Topical Applications to prevent Chub Rub

Another solution to prevent Chub Rub, which can be used in conjunction with clothing, is to use topical products designed to cut down on the friction caused by body parts rubbing against each other. One of the most common options is talcum powder. This method has been used effectively for generations. Though it really is only going to be effective for superficial activities, like taking a romantic stroll on a warm summer night.

For sweaty, athletic activities, there are a number of great products that come highly recommended by those in the know. All of these products are designed to cut down on chafing and abrasion that lead to Chub Rub. It boils down to a matter of trying a few to see which ones you like, and which ones are the most effective for the types of activities you enjoy.

  • Trail Toes
  • Stick Deodorant (budget conscious)
  • Sport Stick
  • Brave Soldier (doesn’t sweat off or come off in the rain)
  • Anti-Monkey Butt Powder
  • Body Glide (we highly recommend this, Amazon sells a variety of sizes for Body Glide)
  • Mission Skincare
  • Sport Shield by 2Toms
  • Trail Toes

And one last bit of preventative advice: Learn how to run. Sometimes Chub Rub is caused by an awkward running gait. Letting your legs cross over each other with each stride can also cause enough friction to damage skin. Become aware of your gait. Making corrections can not only reduce your Chub Rub, it can also reduce your chance of injury.

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About the Author

Tammi Hartung

Tammi Hartung