Thigh chafing and the joys of summer

iz needs talc powder   mai thighs are chafing

Warmer weather is here. Spring! And soon, summer! I can put away my black tights and wear cotton dresses and mini-skirts. I can stop wearing running tights. But of course, much as I love all those things, there’s the problem of thigh chafing.

“At first thigh chafing is annoying, then it’s embarrassing, then it’s painful, then it’s ugly (all that friction causes little red bumps to pop up on my inner thighs–so not cute). My solution up to now has been to wear spandex shorts underneath all my dresses. This combats chafing and serves the secondary purpose of preventing me from flashing the whole neighborhood whenever I get out my car. Every time I pull on those shorts, though, I feel a little sad and a little resentful: for once I’d just like to throw on a sundress and some comfy undies and be done. This hot, binding extra layer kind of defeats the purpose of the easy, breezy summer outfit.” from the Horrors of Thigh Chafing, The Frisky.

For active women, out deliberately pursuing sweaty activities in the heat it can be especially difficult. While it’s ridiculous looking you can get the sense the lengths people will go to to avoid thigh chafing. It’s a serious problem. A blog reader sent me the link along with a note saying that people were mocking both the product and the problem If only you had a thigh gap, like reasonable, thin women, you wouldn’t have this problem. (For more on thigh gap, see Tracy’s post, Thigh Gap” Makes Me Sad.)

To that I have two things to say. First, for me, my thighs have always made contact and it’s been a summer issue no matter what I’ve weighed. Second, it in no way follows from something being a problem for fat women that the answer is shame. Oh right, they could diet and lose weight? And even if that did work, which it doesn’t mostly, surely we don’t deserve pain and suffering when we exercise?

For non-workout occasions I have friends who swear by bandelettes. They’re lacy thigh bands, sexy is the idea, with the added benefit of helping with chafing. Me? I’d never be quite sure where to put them and they aren’t quite in my everyday repertoire. Maybe for fancy nights out but fancy nights out don’t usually involve a lot of walking.

I’ve tried various lotions and creams but with no great success. Bodyglide works well for making it easy to get your wetsuit off but it’s not something I want to use for a run on a warm day. There is specific anti chafe cream for runners but again I haven’t had great luck with it. Baby powder works but never lasts long enough. For workouts I never wear traditional baggy running shorts. Instead, I wear tighter fitting reasonably long bicycle style shorts.

I discovered my answer for regular day to day skirt wearing when I started riding to work in dresses with bike shorts underneath. If I forgot undies I’d just keep the bike shorts on and that had the added benefit of no thigh chafing. It also meant I didn’t worry about modesty at all.

These days when I’m not riding I wear bike short style undies, like these by Jockey. Is this a summertime issue for you? Does it affect your exercise plans? What solutions have you found?

18 thoughts on “Thigh chafing and the joys of summer

  1. I use roll-on deodorant, which mostly works for me (very hot days + very long walks = it starts to wear off)

  2. I use Mad Alchemy “La Femme” chamois cream – on the thighs, and the armpits too for those long runs. It seems to last long enough (about 2 hours) to get the job done. You’d probably have to re-apply for anything longer, like marathon training.

  3. Great post! I know people with thigh gaps, men, babies, even animals who have thigh chaffing. I learned this when I hiked a 16 mile river hike in Zion National park and the combo of water all day and dry air made the skin split on my thighs- a female ranger in the Grand Canyon treated me for it with bandages and aloe and said “I have seen EVERYONE get this here- welcome to the desert” (this helped a lot because my male hiking companions had been grumbling that I was slowing down/making fun of my thigh rub (split skin! Bleeding! Such jerks). Time we all admitted that it is a general problem with having legs, rather than something to make fun about. I wish people would stop calling it chub rub like if we all just got skinny it would go away. Different solutions work for different folks- I know one woman who uses gel baby oil – that stains my clothes so I stick to bike shorts (although I resent the extra fabric in the heat too). I had never seen the lace leg things above- I fear they would roll up, down, with much walking, and rub happens with much walking!

  4. For under dresses and skirts, I swear by pettipants– sort of a slip/shorts. It’s dual purpose garment.

    For running, I’m still searching for the perfect pair of shorts that don’t ride up and expose my thighs…

  5. I find certain types of deodorant work really well. The clear gel ones like Almay keep the friction at bay. I just slather (or spray, aresols work well too) it on my thighs in the morning.

  6. I’ve tried a bunch of different solutions over the years. My go-to now are the “sculpting shorts” made by Gap body–the largest size available isn’t constricting as shapewear on my, they’re lightweight and don’t let the temperature get too high, they don’t soak up sweat, and most importantly, they don’t ride up or twist around at all.
    – bandelettes: I hated these, the elastic still dug in and felt uncomfortable and weird. Also didn’t work for biking at all.
    – bike shorts: too thick to keep on under dresses once I got to my destination, imo; also I only had black ones, hard to find ones that would be short enough too without digging in to my thigh
    – American Apparel cotton bike shorts: I used these for a couple years, but they do get hot the cotton gets clammy, and sometimes you get one that isn’t cut well and bunches up
    – pettipants: I also relied on these for a couple years, but I only had polyester ones that didn’t feel very good and again they could bunch up or twist, or the lace was sometimes scratchy

    Never tried deodorant/bodyglide/baby powder, just figured those wouldn’t last very long.

  7. Lots of anti thigh chaffing tips here in the comments. Phew! I was afraid I might have to shell out for that dreadful contraption from Amazon! Imagine explaining that one to your nearest and dearest. Or to the rest of the pack in the communal changing room. Yikes!

    Still, thigh chaffing sorta makes me sorry for sniggering at the thigh gap obsessed crew. Sorta.

  8. Thanks for the post, Sam. So glad people are all speaking up about the fact that thigh chafing is commonplace and not a cause for pain, embarrassment or being less active. I swear by Jockey for her skimmie shorts (Sam has the link to the Canadian one)– I have black, white, and purple ones (the purple were on sale). I haven’t had trouble with them rolling up, and they are not super-hot, either (in my experience). Another option to think on: Andiamo makes unisex shorts liners (both padded and unpadded, but I use the unpadded ones). They have elastic in thighs, which for me makes an indentation which I don’t like showing up under skirts or dresses, but they might work better for some (Sam and Tracy– I’ll bring a pair to our upcoming conference for you to look at). They have lots of sizes and are unisex, so you might have to call to ask about sizing. Here’s their link:

    Some bike shops sell them, too, so you might be able to try some on.

    I am so glad that FINALLY it is looking like the weather is starting to call for use of these undergarments. It’s been a loooong winter…


  9. Hi Sam,
    I too was a chub rub sufferer, until I discovered Thigh Society (
    Similar idea to Jockey’s shorts, but the inner panel between the legs (also known as the gusset) is made out of a material called Sorbtek. This wicks the moisture away from the skin, unlike the Jockey’s gusset which is made out of cotton!
    Now I am free to wear dresses and skirts to my heart’s content!

  10. Hi Sam,

    I too was a chub rub sufferer, until I discovered Thigh Society (

    Similar idea to Jockey’s shorts, but the inner panel between the legs (also known as the gusset) is made out of a material called Sorbtek. This wicks the moisture away from the skin, unlike the Jockey’s gusset which is made out of cotton!

    Now I am free to wear dresses and skirts to my heart’s content!

  11. One of the things I love about my Oiselle Long Rogas – besides the multiple zipper-close pockets – is that they are long enough that I don’t need to use BodyGlide when I wear them, which makes them ideal for long runs when I don’t have the ability to reapply mid-run.

    Aside from that, BodyGlide actually works really really well for me.

    1. I was miffed by the pockets issue on the last run I did. Think I’ll investigate my online shopping options! They sound great.

      1. I hope they work for you! My only tip is that the brief seems to run a bit small compared to the shorts, so keep that in mind if you decide to buy them. At least that’s how the pairs I tried on were.

  12. I love Bandelettes! I’ve worn them at all-day conferences where I was walking a lot and they stayed in place and were really comfortable. They just put out a line of unisex options that are being marketed for athletes ( It looks like you could wear them under short running shorts. I haven’t used those, but I’m happy enough with their other products to give them a shot!

  13. I have always used my deodorant because it works well for combating the bumps that occur from shaving the bikini line and also the thigh chaffing. A random side note regarding the wetsuit and triathlons….PAM works well for helping you to get in and out and costs a lot less than some of those body glides.

  14. I have discovered the perfect solution to the problem of shorts creeping up your legs, riding up your inner thighs and bunching at the crotch area! NoRiders! They are iron-on patches and inseam stays that can be easily applied to the inseams of shorts. They work perfectly, are affordable, and come in all the common colors even though no one actually sees where you apply them. They claim to “Restore your Confidence in Wearing Shorts.” You know what? They really do! You’re welcome.

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