Chafing is a common complaint for runners. This uncomfortable irritation happens when there’s friction between either skin and fabric or skin and skin. One place that runners often experience chafing is their nipples. This type of chafing is so common that it’s sometimes called “jogger’s nipple.”
Jogger’s nipple is more common in people who run long distances, particularly in cool weather when nipples are more likely to be erect.
One study found that 35.7 percent of people who ran 40 miles a week or more experienced jogger’s nipple, while only 3.6 percent of those who ran 15 miles a week or less did.
While nipple chafing is a frequent issue for runners, you can prevent and treat it with these eight tips.
Lubricants form a protective barrier and help reduce friction between your shirt and nipples. Your shirt can glide over the lubricant more easily than it glides over skin. Try using a small dab of petroleum jelly to coat your nipples.
Clothes can make a big difference in jogger’s nipple. Cotton shirts and shirts with rubberized logos over the chest can rub and cause more chafing. A wet shirt, like from sweating, can also make chafing worse.
Synthetic, moisture-wicking shirts can help you stay dry and are less likely to irritate your nipples. Wearing a well-fitted shirt can also help reduce the amount of friction between your clothes and your skin, since it’ll stay in place better.
Talc is a mineral that absorbs moisture when it’s in powder form. Dry nipples are less likely to chafe, so you can try covering your nipples in talcum or alum powder to help keep them dry. This also helps reduce friction.
Creating a barrier between your skin and shirt is one way to reduce friction and lessen your chance of nipple chafing. Many runners use bandages or adhesive tape over their nipples to create this barrier. Some companies even make special tape for runners to use on their nipples.
A sports bra is another way to form a barrier and add padding between your shirt and nipples to reduce friction. In fact, women who run without bras generally are more likely to have chafing than those who run with them.
Just make sure that you wear the proper type of bra. Semi-synthetic, soft, tight sports bras are best to help prevent any chafing issues.
Looking for an easy way to reduce friction? For men, you can skip the shirt completely. No shirt means there’s nothing to rub against your nipples. Just make sure the weather is appropriate to go shirtless — a little chafing is generally better than frostbite.
Sometimes chafed nipples happen despite your best efforts. When they do, the most important thing to do is treat them properly. That way they won’t continue to get irritated or become more painful.
The first thing to do is clean the affected area, especially if your nipples are chafed enough to bleed. Clean it gently with water and mild soap. Then, make sure the area dries completely to avoid more chafing.
A steroid cream, such as hydrocortisone, can help reduce swollen or inflamed nipples. If your nipples are cracked, you might need an antibiotic cream to help them heal. Cover them while they heal to prevent further chafing.
Nipple chafing, sometimes called jogger’s nipple, happens when the friction between your nipple and shirt or bra causes chafing. It can be painful, but it can also be avoided with a little preparation.
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