I've been blessed with big thighs. I love my shape, but it comes at a cost: thigh chafing. Recently, I went on a vacation to Jamaica. As you can imagine, it was full of fun activities and a whole lot of heat. All I packed were swimsuits, Daisy Dukes, and dresses, so my thighs were bound to rub together. By the end of the four-day trip, the insides of my thighs felt inflamed from the combination of sweat, short shorts, and heat, which resulted in constant friction followed by sore, red, uncomfortable patches on my skin. It doesn't just happen to those with thick thighs, though. It can happen to anyone.
Thankfully, there are ways to treat and even prevent chafing altogether. To find out how, we tapped Dr. Stacy Chimento and Dr. Ope Ofodile for their expert insight and advice. Plus, we rounded up our favorite anti-chafing balms, sprays, and oils to bring you our ultimate guide to nipping chafing in the bud once and for all.
Meet the Expert
- Stacy Chimento, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology. She is based in Miami.
- Ope Ofodile, MD, MPH, is a cosmetic and medical dermatologist at Dermatology and Surgery Specialists of North Atlanta. She specializes in general dermatology, dermatologic surgery, pediatric surgery, and cosmetic dermatology.
Ahead, learn how to deal with chafe-prone thighs and discover the 15 anti-chafing products that'll calm and soothe your stressed-out skin.
How to Prevent Chafing
Since thigh chafing—or any chafing for that matter—is caused by friction, one way to prevent it is by keeping the area lubricated. "Applying petroleum jelly, or a similar anti-chafing lubricant, to your chafing hot spots helps eliminate skin friction," explains Chimento. She also suggests using a cornstarch-based powder since it can absorb moisture from the skin, leaving it silky-smooth. Antiperspirant wipes won't hurt, either, says Ofodile. Essentially, "To prevent chafing, you’ll want to try to create a barrier between the skin to skin contact, or the skin to clothing contact," she explains. In other words, dress wisely (read: no Daisy Dukes—at least not without the proper precautions). According to Ofodile and Chimento, that means wearing clothes that are loose, breathable, and moisture-wicking, especially if it's hot and humid. Covering your thighs with a soft bandage or using compression shorts will also help since it will keep skin from rubbing against itself.
How to Treat Chafing
In case chafing prevention is merely wishful thinking at this point, not to worry, you're not alone. If you find yourself looking down at inflamed and irritated thighs, Chimento instructs, "Carefully clean the irritated area with lukewarm water and body wash and dry it thoroughly. After the chafed area is clean and dry, apply an anti-chafing product such as petroleum jelly, aloe vera, cornstarch, or shea butter. All four of these remedies soothe the skin and prevent future chafing." However, if irritation worsens, it's best to seek medical attention and obtain medicated ointment. Keep in mind: "It takes some time for chafing to heal, so wait for a little before returning to activities that caused chafing. If you fail to wait long enough, friction will continue and put you at risk for a possible infection," says Chimento.
When it comes to chafing prevention and treatment, it's essential to look for hydrating ingredients that'll coat your skin with a protective layer against environmental aggressors. Chimento counts zinc oxide, Dimethicone, and petroleum jelly as key anti-chafing ingredients. "[They] help create a protective barrier on the skin, which helps prevent skin friction," she explains. "Other ingredients such as aloe and vitamin E act as soothing agents to help calm irritated skin," she adds.
Best Balm: Body Glide For Her Anti Chafe & Moisturizing Balm
This vitamin-packed stick provides a protective barrier on top of your skin that'll keep chafing away on the hottest of days. Its vegan formula is free of petroleum and mineral oils, so it's safe enough for those with sensitive skin.
Best Stick: Josie Maran Argan Oil Moisturizing Stick
Argan oil is known for its super-soothing benefits. This multipurpose balm will calm irritated, chafed spots with a quick lather. Plus, you can use this balm for a bunch of other things like dry cuticles and chapped lips.
Best Ointment: Aquaphor Healing Ointment
This drugstore ointment soothes and restores irritated skin by locking in moisture. And while it works wonders on chafed thighs, it can also be used to heal everything from dry lips to cracked heels. No wonder it's a favorite among dermatologists, Dr. Ofodile included.
Best Spray: Sweatwellth Friction Free Workout Anti-Chafing Spray
Doesn't solving all your chafing problems with a quick spritz sound enticing? This fast-absorbing spray is like magic in a bottle. Whether you're a workout fanatic or not, spray this in between your thighs and let the moisture of the hyaluronic acid spread a barrier on your skin against chafed patches.
Best Oil: DeoDoc Intimate Calming Oil
DeoDoc's team of doctors chose nourishing oils like chamomile, almond, and shea butter to create a calming blend to relax the skin. Simply massage this onto irritated patches.
Best All-Around: Megababe Thigh Rescue
This little stick will knock chafing right out with its combination of vitamin E, aloe, and grape-seed oil. It's made to guard against continuous friction by creating a silky barrier for the skin. "This product is amazing because it is specifically created for the thighs, a chafing hot spot. The combination of these ingredients reduces inflammation and heals the skin," explains Chimento.
Best Cream: Lasinoh Lanolin Cream
Even though this product is marketed to ease breastfeeding nipple chafing, lanolin will work just as well in the thigh area. Trust that this 100 percent natural, hypoallergenic product is recommended by doctors and dermatologists to cut down on chafing.
Best Powder: Lush Silky Underwear
If you prefer powder form, this will feel like heaven to your skin. A quick rub of this powder, which is packed with cornstarch, cocoa butter, and kaolin will comfort skin affected by chafing. It smells like vetiver and jasmine, so it'll remind you of a garden.
Best Roll-On Applicator: 2Toms Sport Shield
The aloe vera and vitamin E in this roll-on applicator will prevent chafing for a full 24 hours, according to the brand. It's a silicone-based product that won't feel greasy or sticky. Simply coat your skin with this and let it seep into your pores.
Best for Athletes: SBR Skin Slick Continuous Spray Lubricant
Created with athletes in mind who partake in activities like cycling, running, or swimming, this mist is the real deal. It even works on things like pesky blisters. "[It] helps to prevent chafing by acting as a shield to avoid all types of skin friction and irritation. This product is a must-have because it is both waterproof and sweatproof, so you don’t need to worry about re-applying it throughout the day," says Chimento.
Best Texture: Lady Anti-Monkey Butt Anti Friction Powder
This powder was formulated especially for women and brings on silky-smooth skin. You can find calamine inside of it, which reduces sweat and friction on the inner thigh area.
Best Long-Wear: MedZone ChafeZone Skin Protectant
Athletes and runners deal with chafing because of the inner thigh movement during their workouts. Fortunately, this hardworking stick is made to stay on your skin during the most intense moments. Glide this long-lasting formula on affected areas for protection during your sweat sesh.
Best Smelling: Chamois Butt'r Her' Anti-Chafe Cream
You're probably wishing that chafed area of your skin felt like butter instead, which is why you need this cream. Its impressive lineup of aloe vera, green tea leaf extract, tea tree oil, shea butter, and lavender oil will spoil your skin and quiet any feelings of irritation.
Best Powder Gel: Monistat Care Chafing Relief Powder Gel
Recommended by doctors and dermatologists alike, this gel formula provides the ultimate prevention against chafing. It'll melt right onto your skin and any inflammation will instantly feel relaxed.
Best Multi-Use: Vaseline Original Pure Petroleum Jelly
Ain't nothing fancy about it, but when it comes to thigh chafing prevention and relief, we can't deny the powers of Vaseline. Our parents use it, and their parents, and we're fairly certain that our future grandkids (real or imaginary) will be using it one day, too. It's the OG of petroleum jelly. Simply slather some onto chafing-prone areas to create a protective barrier for the skin, instructs Odofile.