All that running you're doing might help whip your body into shape, but those red, painful, raw areas under your arms are probably not the fashion statement you're going for. The culprit: skin rubbing against skin, or against clothes, when you pump your arms back and forth during your run, combined with dampness from sweat. To avoid having to deal with painful, chafed underarms, learn simple ways to prevent arm chafing so you can keep enjoying your run and reaping the benefits.
Dust cornstarch or talcum powder liberally on the sides of your torso and areas under your arms that are prone to chafing. This helps keep your skin dry and minimizes friction.
Alternatively to the talc/cornstarch option, rub petroleum jelly on chafe-prone areas under your arms and at the sides of your torso. For optimal protection, also apply jelly to the edge of your running top under your arms. If you're going for a long run, bring a small tube of petroleum jelly so you can reapply as needed. A commercial anti-chafe lubricant works as well.
Wear snug-fitting tops that are made of moisture-wicking, breathable fabric that pulls sweat away from your skin. If tops are too tight or too loose, the fabric is more likely to rub. Cute but functional tops with smooth, soft seams are easy to find, but be sure to cut out tags to prevent that extra irritation. Wash your new tops before wearing.
Sip liquids during your run to keep your body hydrated. A gal that's dehydrated has to deal with icky sweat crystals forming on her skin that can stain clothes and trigger chafing. In addition to drinking water before and after your run, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking between 3 to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes during an hour-long workout. If the superwoman in you feels like exercising longer than one hour, bring out the sports beverage with electrolytes and carbohydrates as well.
- If you do having chafed areas, treat them gently and with care. Wash with cool water and soap, apply antibacterial ointment and cover with bandages.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.