Chafing is caused by repeated motion of skin rubbing against the loose fabric of clothing or other areas of skin. The area affected will appear red and raw and be accompanied by a stinging or burning sensation. The areas prone to chafing are the inner thighs, under arms, the bra line in women and the nipples in men. The chafing can be caused by poorly fitting clothes, moisture from sweating, lack of hydration and poor preparation before a walk or run.
Prevention is better than cure but if you do experience chafing do not continue walking. Treat the affected area with antiseptic wipes or tepid water and soap. Dry well and apply an antiseptic cream and cover with gauze. Wait until the area has fully healed before re-starting your walking programme.
To minimise the occurrence or prevention of chafing smother the vulnerable areas in petroleum jelly before your walk – feet, under-arms, inner thighs and bra- line. If you do not like the consistency of petroleum jelly there are many proprietary anti-chafing products available in your pharmacy such as Bodyglide, Lanacane or Monistat. Barrier creams sold for protecting babies from nappy rash are also very effective. Petroleum jelly is cheap and is an excellent product.
Walking clothes should be snug fitting with well covered smooth seams. Do not wear cotton tops. They are cool but soak and retain moisture which exacerbates the problem of chafing. If you are overweight or have fleshy thighs friction in the inner thigh area can be minimised by wearing close fitting running shorts on their own in warm weather and under a regular pair of running trousers in colder weather. If you do not fancy wearing running shorts a regular pair of panty-hose cut off at the knee or higher up under your own shorts or trousers will do the trick. Make sure your bra is a good fit, snug but not tight and lubricate the bra-line area well before starting to walk.
Ill fitting socks will cause blisters and chafing on the feet. Make sure your socks fit snugly with no seam-lines under foot. They should be of quick drying material which wicks away the moisture from the feet and again lubricate feet liberally before you start. On long walks it helps to take your feet out of your boots every hour or so for a few minutes to help them dry off and cool down. While this may appear to be a nuisance doing so will pay dividends when you finish your walk blister free.
Inadequate hydration makes the body prone to chafing also. You can tell whether your body is adequately hydrated by the colour of your urine. A light straw colour indicates adequate hydration while a dark amber colour would suggest that you need to drink more. Make sure you drink plenty of water up to a half hour before your walk. This gives you time to make a toilet visit before you start to excrete excess fluid. During your walk drink small amounts of fluid every twenty minutes or so or when you feel the first sensations of thirst.
Here are some links for anti-chafing creams.