Ask FGG: “How Can I Prevent Chafing Between Fat Rolls?”
Avoiding and treating chafing and body rash
Summer weather and climbing temperatures are upon us, and whether your preferred term is “perspiration,” “glistening” or just plain old “sweat,” the fact is we’ll be doing a lot of it over the next few months. Which makes this a perfect time to answer the following reader question:
This is totally embarrassing, but I’m hoping you guys have an answer. How can I prevent chafing between my rolls of body fat, especially when it’s hot outside?
Sure, it’s a decidedly unglamorous, potentially embarrassing subject. But we’re nothing but honest here at FGG, and the fact is if you’re an overweight woman, you likely have places on your body where your flesh folds onto itself and collects excess sweat. Fortunately, we have a few great tips to prevent chafing that will hopefully help keep you dry and comfortable during the summer and beyond.
Preventing chafing where skin touches itself
Chafing is caused by moisture, which increases the friction between skin and itself (or between skin and clothing, like when jeans or unlined dress pants rub your thighs as you walk). Therefore, avoiding chafing is as simple — and as complicated — as keeping the areas clean, cool and dry. Wash between any rolls or folds carefully each time you bathe, and don’t get dressed while your body is still damp. Take special care to dry the places that often get overlooked — rolls on your stomach/back/sides, your navel, the “belly apron” area under your tummy (if it hangs), areas under breasts or between the breasts & underarms, the spot where your thigh meets your pelvis, and even the areas where thighs meet the back of the knees. (I’ve even heard recommendations for blow drying areas using the ‘cool’ setting!) Once your skin is clean and dry, there are several different options for keeping it that way during a long day.
For professional advice, we turned to plus-size aesthetician and skin expert, Daniela of Daniela’s Facial Studio in Chicago. Having previously schooled our readers on the down-and-dirty business of bikini waxing, Daniela didn’t shy away from chatting about chafing: “One of the most effective, cooling and non-[pore]-clogging remedies is plain old corn starch,” she says. Daniela recommends avoiding products made with talc, which can clog pores and may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, and instead keeping corn starch in a shaker jar or applying with a large makeup brush.
To further reduce friction, Daniela suggests skipping petroleum jelly (which, in addition to feeling greasy, may not provide long-lasting protection because skin eventually absorbs it) and instead trying products made with silicone. We covered a number of these creams and roll-ons (from Monistat to Anti Monkey Butt) last fall as FGG discussed chafing under skirts and dresses, and now you can add one more brand to the list — Lanacane® has just released an Anti-Chafing Gel.
Other good suggestions: For clothing that rests between parts that touch (underwear that sits at your waist between love handles, for example), breathable cotton helps, as does moisture-wicking fabric designed for workout wear, like these Junonia QuikCool™ briefs. And in the “never would have thought of it” category, Daniela says, “For chafing in the breast area, you can actually put panty liners at the bottom of your bra to absorb moisture without adding bulk.”
Treating chafed skin and ‘fat rash’
Without proper prevention, rolls and folds often gather moisture or rub together, leaving the areas sensitive and stinging; the affected areas may also take on an unpleasant odor. This could be a sign of intertrigo, a type of inflammatory infection that’s specific to skin folds. The odor some women experience is caused by the accumulation of fungus and/or bacteria, and it generally won’t improve without treatment. Over-the-counter yeast infection remedies or Desitin® cream may help, but if the problem persists you’ll need to see a doctor for expert advice.
If the area is chafed and the skin is broken but no odor is present, try an antibiotic ointment with pain reliever on the raw areas, and keep them covered with a large bandage, Daniela says. Be careful not to re-aggravate the sore spots by allowing further skin friction before the areas heal completely and again, if you’re at all unsure, see your health care provider for an expert opinion.
Don’t let summer heat — or discomfort during any time of year — keep you from enjoying all the season has to offer. Preventative measures can go a long way toward helping you feel dry, comfortable and secure in your own skin.
Readers: Have we left out your favorite anti-chafing tip? Tell us how you keep cool & comfortable in those awkward areas.