Armpit Chafing while Swimming and Running, Causes, Remedies, Prevention

Have you been experiencing armpit chafing and have no idea what is causing it? Below we explore the possible causes, how you can protect your underarm skin from chafing as well as treatment options for armpit chafing while swimming, running or from the clothes you wear.

Armpit Chafing

The armpits are so placed that moments of intense physical activities such as swimming and running subject them to constant friction. When skin rubs against skin, the effect is intensified. It comes as no surprise then that when engaging in these activities armpit chafing is experienced.

Armpit chafing refers to the irritating result of too much friction on a part of the body which then leaves the skin raw and bruised. It is most common on the thighs, armpit and the groin area but can be experienced in any part of the body.

This friction induced skin injury becomes apparent when the sufferer suddenly experiences a stinging or burning sensation around the armpit area. The affected skin first appears pink or red before getting flaky. When severe, skin will become completely worn off.

Armpit Chafing Causes

The leading contributing factor of skin chafing is friction. As such, anything that increases the chances of friction is likely to aggravate the situation. Below are causes of armpit chafing.

Armpit Chafing while Swimming and Running

Any exercise enthusiast will experience some skin chafing at some point. While swimming, there is increased activity of the hands which increases friction in the armpits. While running, the same happens and is accompanied by excess sweating. These can see the underarm experience severe chafing. Seeking advice from your trainer on how to guard your vulnerable parts is advisable.

Armpit Chafing after Shaving

Another great cause of armpit chafing is frequent shaving. The variety of methods used to eliminate hair on the under arms could result in skin irritation. These include depilatories, using razors as well as waxing. After the process, your skin may become irritated and flake with time.

Armpit Chafing from Being Overweight

Overweight people tend to experience chafing in various parts of the body as compared to people with appropriate weight. The presence of armpit fat in overweight persons can increase the likelihood of excess friction which in turn causes underarm chafing.

Heart Rate Monitor

For people who run or exercise, the use of a heart rate monitor is important. This helps in working on current status to enhance improvement while at the same time preventing you from going overboard and injuring yourself.

Strap on monitors are passed around the chest area and could cause armpit chafing. Where this is the cause, the best solution is to use a strapless heart rate monitor. Some GPS watches and pedometers also have the heart rate monitor features and would be preferable.

Sports Bra Skin Underarm Chafing

In women who exercise, another cause of underarm chafing could be a sports bra. This is more so where the band around the armpit is too tight which increases the amount of friction with the skin. An ill-fitting bra can accelerate this too. To reduce armpit chafing, you can try spreading lube on the area where the band passes through or wear the bra inside out.

Chafing from Fabrics of Clothes Worn

At times, your choice of clothing could cause armpit chafing. Some fabrics are too rough on the skin and will leave it irritated and sore. With the combination of irritating fabrics, moisture and friction, chafing is experienced.

How to Prevent Armpit Chafing

Although mostly only annoying and not majorly a health risk, armpit chafing if left unattended could lead to bacterial infections. The risk of infection on the area is accelerated by the presence of bacteria and moisture making this a habitable spot. To prevent infections as well as the underarm chafing, here are a few things you can do:

Keep Skin Dry

To prevent your armpit skin from chafing, it is important to keep the area dry. To take care of the sweaty nature of the underarms and minimize moisture, apply talcum powder. This will help in controlling the buildup of moisture

Wear Right Clothes

Like discussed above, one of the causes of armpit chafing is wrong fabrics used on clothing. Too tight clothes could also contribute to chafing. To avoid this, wear clothes made of breathable fabrics. Also avoid clothes that are too tight as these increase friction. Moisture wicking clothes can also help a great deal as they will help minimize the amount of sweat in the under arms.

Armpit Chafing Home Treatment – Remedies for Underarm Chafing

In addition to putting into place the above preventive measures, there are some interventions that can be done at home to reduce discomfort. The first thing should be identifying what the cause is and avoiding it. To treat the irritated skin:

  1. Thoroughly clean the area with water and a mild antibacterial soap and a soft wash cloth. These if used carefully are better that stronger soaps and rougher wash clothes as these can make the problem worse.
  2. Apply an antibacterial ointment or spray on the area as directed by the manufacturer.
  3. Using gauze, cover the affected area. Gauze is naturally airy and lets the chafed skin get the necessary oxygen while at the same time minimizing its contact with clothing. To avoid further chafing, ensure the gauze is applied in the right way. This means it should neither be too tight nor too loose.

Calendula Oil

Calendula oil works against inflammation and will also get rid of fungus and bacteria on the skin. These properties will help fight and cure any infections. In addition, the oil will help reduce underarm friction thus help in treating armpit chafing.

By using the above home treatments for armpit chafing, the skin should heal within a few days. However, in case it doesn’t or where an infection flares up, it is best to make an appointment with your doctor.

Also see the doctor if the skin around is broken and if the chafing continues for more than two days. They will evaluate the infection and offer relevant treatment options. These can mostly be found over the counter. Once treatment is on course, give yourself some time to heal before resuming physical activity. Only go back to the activities when completely cured.

Tips on Dealing with Armpit Chafing

In addition to putting the above measures into place, here are additional tips on dealing with armpit chafing:

  • To soften fabrics and get rid of dies, wash new shirts before wearing them to prevent armpit chafing.
  • Prior to engaging in activities that provoke chafing, apply a homemade anti-chafing cream. This can be made by mixing a cup of vitamin A and D ointment, same amount of petroleum jelly and a dollop of aloe vera and vitamin E cream each.
  • Drink enough water to keep your skin well hydrated and prevent chafing caused by skin dryness.
  • In case sweating too much during workouts leads to underarm irritation and chafing, move your workouts to a cooler time of the day.
  • To keep skin dry and cool, settle for loose fitting clothes made of cotton and ditch all your rough clothing.
  • Instead of using deodorants, settle for antiperspirants to reduce the amount of moisture in your underarms.


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