6 ways to help cyclists avoid chafing and saddle sores

Chafing and soreness can be common for cyclists, but they’re not something you need to put up with. We’ve come up with a few key checks to make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance of avoiding irritation.

  1. Go commandoIt may sound weird, but don’t wear underwear under your cycling shorts. Generally, underwear isn’t made from the right material to be rubbed constantly between your skin and saddle. It’ll more than likely absorb sweat and make for a breeding ground for bacteria. It also introduces another thing to cause friction down below, and friction is a main cause of skin abrasions that can lead to infections.
  2. Wash your shorts well This one might sound obvious, but it’s worth taking note from the professionals. Team Sky used to wash every rider’s kit together and stuff as much in the machines as possible. Last season they switched to taking more washing machines on grand Tours, and washed each rider’s kit separately. The result? They made it through a whole stage race without any saddle sores.It’s unlikely you’ll be washing your shorts with those of your club mates, but give some thought to what else they’re going in with – dirty work wear or your partner’s gym gear might not be ideal. And don’t overload the machine either, give your stuff space to get cleaned properly.
  3. 3. Use chamois creamIf you suffer badly, then chamois cream can help on two fronts. Firstly, it’s designed to reduce friction and thereby reduce the risk of skin abrasions. And secondly, some chamois cream is antibacterial, so it can help reduce the risk of skin infections.
  4. Choose the right shorts Too tight and they’ll dig in, too loose and they might chafe. A good padded insert can make all the difference as well. Some shorts even have an antibacterial agent built into the pad, but this will eventually become less effective the more times you wash them.
  5. Use mudguards Keep the area clean and dry by using mudguards to prevent dirt and gunk being thrown up onto your backside from the road. Remember, bacteria love moisture.
  6. Shower straight awayDon’t sit in dirty, sweaty shorts for ages when you get back from a ride – get them off and take a shower as soon as you can. If you’re being picked up from an event or driving home, take a pair of undies with you so that you can change before making the journey back.

Getting the right saddle will also make a big difference – something we’ll be covering in future blog posts.