Chub Rub Is Real: How to Stop Thigh Chafing

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

With 15 hours of daylight, sunshine rays and an impressive list of rosé cocktails, summer is arguably the most delightful season. But as is the case with all things hedonistic, the warmer months aren’t without pitfalls. Inner-thigh chafing (or, more endearingly, “chub rub”) is one such pitfall — a painful reality for many as the weather heats up. Fortunately, there are ways to treat the pesky inconvenience (and even prevent it altogether).

From the best chafing creams to the popular product you should steer clear of, here is everything you need to know about dealing with chub rub this season. Because summer should be pain-free.

What Is Chub Rub, and How Does It Happen?

Most people have experienced chafing at some point in their life, regardless of their body type. Runners can experience chafing when clothing repeatedly rubs against sweaty skin, and almost everyone is familiar with the uncomfortable sensation that an ill-fitting pair of shoes causes just before a blister forms. Chub rub is exactly that — except it occurs in between the thighs and most often in summer, when people sweat more and dresses, skirts and shorts are more pervasive.

“Chafing is the irritation of skin caused by repetitive friction. When the thighs meet and constantly rub you will have chafing,” notes Debra Jaliman, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist. It is also most likely to happen in places where moisture is present, such as the inner thighs and groin area. The severity of chub rub can vary from mild irritation and redness to broken skin and blisters, but “burning” is the word most commonly associated with chafing, regardless of the discomfort level.

Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

How Can Chub Rub Be Prevented?

Before you surrender yourself to months of inner-thigh discomfort, it’s important to know that there are steps that can be taken in order to minimize chafing and, in some cases, avoid it altogether. “Moisture and friction are the causes of chafing, so keeping dry is essential,” says Jessica Wu, M.D., a Los Angeles-based dermatologist.

To reduce friction, Dr. Wu recommends dusting a light layer of cornstarch on the inner thighs before heading out into the summer heat, and she urges her patients to steer clear of one popular ingredient. “I recommend avoiding baby powder, which contains talc,” she suggests. “Talc has been linked to lung cancer in those who have inhaled it, as well as ovarian cancer in women who have used it long term in the groin.”

Dr. Wu also urges patients to try an anti-friction stick, which forms a barrier between the thighs and makes them glide when rubbed together instead of causing friction. Dr. Scholl’s Blister Defense Stick and Fancy Feet Blisstick Anti-Friction Stick are two of her favorites.

Anti-chafe Clothing and Accessories

Another way to avoid chub rub is by choosing undergarments and clothing wisely. Dr. Jaliman recommends wearing a pair of breathable spandex bike shorts underneath dresses and skirts during the spring and summer months; they will both absorb moisture and reduce friction. Additionally, she urges anyone prone to chub rub to wear loose, cotton pajama pants to bed at night instead of a nightgown or T-shirt.

In addition to everyday bike shorts and cotton sleep pants, there’s an entire world of anti-chafing, anti-chub rub clothing and accessories out there. During Chromat’s Spring 2018 show, models were seen rocking Bandelettes’ anti-chafing thigh bands (which are sexy to boot). Similar to Bandelettes, Undersummers makes an anti-chafing “shortlette” for underneath dresses and skirts. Not only are the shorts made from moisture-wicking material (in adorable colors and patterns), but there’s no seam on the inner thigh for the ultimate chafing protection.

Thigh Society shorts are another option, preventing chafing via moisture-averting material. (Worth noting: Bandelettes, Undersummers and Thigh Society all are “regular” shorts — not shapewear — meaning none of the shorts have a compression fit.)

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/GettyImages

How Can Chub Rub Be Treated?

So you’ve used your cornstarch and worn your thigh bands, but you still somehow wound up with an uncomfortable case of chub rub. What do you do now?

“If the area is uncomfortable and red, it’s best to avoid tight-fitting clothes and keep the area cool and dry,” notes Dr. Wu. “If it’s itchy and the skin is still intact, you can use cold compresses, cool washcloths or an over-the-counter cortisone cream.” If skin is red, irritated or starting to blister, it’s also important to keep the area clean by using a mild soap and applying an antibacterial ointment, such as Neosporin. Ice packs, lukewarm baths and aiming a fan at the affected area can also offer almost immediate relief.

Also bear in mind that once the skin is broken, bacteria can make its way inside, so keeping an eye on the irritated area is important. “If there are blisters, whiteheads, broken skin or pus, it’s best to seek medical attention to make sure you don’t have an infection, such as a staph bacteria infection,” notes Dr. Wu, adding that such infections are more likely if you’ve already had one in the past.

Chub Rub Remedies

While relief is important, the best strategy is always prevention. The key? Being diligent with whatever method you choose to employ before leaving the house each day. And, as Dr. Jaliman suggests: If you’re out and about and start feeling uncomfortable from your thighs rubbing together, a small amount of Vaseline should reduce friction in a pinch. That said, here are some home and store-bought remedies to keep in mind when preventing — and treating — chub rub.

Home remedies:

1. Cornstarch and potato starch. If you want to avoid products with talcum powder in them, reach for cornstarch or potato starch. These do the same thing by keeping the area dry (and don’t come with a cancer warning). It’s also important to know that cornstarch should never be used on wet skin, as it acts as a type of food for fungus.

2. Coconut oil. By now, everyone knows that coconut oil is the solution to just about anything in life — and that goes for chub rub too. Along with Vaseline and anti-chafing sticks, coconut oil helps reduce friction.

3. Aloe vera and lavender essential oils. If your skin is already irritated, aloe vera alone — or with lavender essential oil — will help calm it. For the latter, simply mix a few drops of lavender oil with aloe and apply to the skin.

4. Calendula oil. This oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help soothe chafed skin. It can be applied directly to the skin with your fingers or a cotton ball.

5. Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is also known for its soothing and healing powers. You can apply it to a cotton ball and dab directly on the affected area.

Store-bought remedies:

1. Burt’s Bees Dusting Powder. If you don’t love the idea of using things you cook with on your skin — but you want to avoid talcum powder — Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Dusting Powder is a good choice.

2. Body Glide. Touted as the “original anti-chafe balm,” Body Glide is great for slicking between thighs to prevent friction. And, as a bonus, it is free of allergens and the ingredients are derived from plants.

3. Megababe Thigh Rescue Anti-Chafe Stick. An alternative to Body Glide is Megababe’s Thigh Rescue, which promises that one application will create a “friction-free barrier.”

4. Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel. If your skin is already red and irritated, Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel will relieve uncomfortable irritation and even reduce the redness.

5. 2Toms SportShield. This easy, roll-on ointment provides up to 24 hours of chafing protection — and it’s waterproof. Or, perhaps more importantly, sweat-proof.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you get chub rub in the summer? What are your secrets for preventing and treating it?