Check-Up: His chafing is out of control

May 20, 2019

Dear Readers,

Jason is a 58-year-old gentleman who writes Check Up from Spanish Town. Sometimes he works as a driver and he also does a bit of farm work.

He spends plenty of time in the sun and sweats a lot. He’s more than 230 pounds and he thinks his size and propensity to sweat is why he cannot get rid of chafing in his groin area and even sometimes under his arms.

He has been to see his doctor several times with this problem, but it always comes back!


Chafing is an irritation of the skin which mostly occurs in the areas of the groin, underarms and nipples, and can also occur in other parts of the body.

It is caused by the constant rubbing of the skin and occurs on areas of the body with sweat glands and pores. It is quite often seen in athletes and in people who are overweight.

Usually, clothing or body part keeps rubbing on the affected area, creating friction. The best way to treat and to prevent this problem is to keep the affected area clean, dry, and moisturised, and to keep well hydrated at all times.


n Dryness: For under the arms, avoid the use of too much roll-on deodorant and if needed, powder the area with corn starch or talcum powder. Use talcum powder on the groin area also.

n Keep well hydrated so that you sweat freely during these hot days. This will prevent sweat from drying and crystallising into salt crystals, which will make chafing more likely. Using a lubricant on the skin might also help here.

n Use lubricants: Petroleum jelly and other lubricants can keep the affected areas sliding against each other rather than the area becoming abraded with the repetitive movements. Lubricants can also be used on the feet and toes to help prevent blisters. A good mixture to use on the skin is aloe vera with vitamin E.

n Clothing: Wear proper underwear. Men should wear boxers and women should avoid wearing pantyhose. Avoid wearing clothes repeatedly without washing them.

The dried sweat and other chemicals retained by the clothing will become an additional cause of chafing. Don’t stay in wet or sweaty clothes! Choose clothing, including bras for women, with very smooth seams to avoid chafing.

One cause of chafing is being overweight. With obesity, there is friction as the thighs rub against each other.

This friction will also affect the groin and underarms and these areas may become chafed. Try to keep the skin dry and moisturised.

Use a towel when sweating and, when possible, change off wet clothing for dry replacements, even during the workday, and certainly if working out or exercising. This will also help prevent skin irritation.

Once you’re chafed, treat the area like an open wound. Wash and clean it with a mild antiseptic and cover the affected area with a layer of lubrication or antibiotic ointment and gauze. Sometimes, both men and women experience chafed nipples, which can even bleed. When this occurs, clean and dress the nipples and wear loose clothing. Avoid excessive movements (like exercise) until the nipples heal. Sometimes it’s best to even cover the nipples with plaster, when active to prevent recurrence of this problem. Give your body time to heal from chafing before resuming any rigorous activities. If your chafed skin does not heal after several days, then you need to see your doctor.

Also, try to get on a healthy diet associated with some exercise to lose weight. Weight loss will help lessen skin friction and chafing.

Including vitamins A, C, E and the mineral zinc, in the form of supplements or from their natural sources, in your diet regularly will also help to maintain a more healthy skin.

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