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  1. #1
    Registered User tolkien's Avatar
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    Post The Ultimate Chafing Article

    What is chafing?

    Chafing can be indentified by a patch of red, raised, sensitive skin that stings to the touch. Despite the common nick-name Monkey Butt, it develops most often between the thighs, although the crotch, butt, underarms, and almost any other area can chafe. Like blisters, chafing is caused by heat, friction, moisture, and bacteria. Hikers with chafing can be characterized by a "duck walk" of sorts.

    Larger hikers are more prone to chafing due to increased contact between legs and heavier sweating. More humid enviornments generate more severe chafing, but it can develop anywhere.

    Chafing can sometimes be moistureless. Dry chafing is similar to wet chafing in all other aspects, but is far, far less common on the AT.

    How is it prevented?

    Chafing is uncomfortable to walk with, uncomfortable to treat, and uncomfortable to discuss. An ounce of prevention (literally) goes a long way to making a hike easier. Like many common but unfortunate things that can happen to you on the AT, it's going to happen sooner rather than later, so be prepared. The ~4oz it takes to haul around some ointment and powder is going to do a lot less to ruin your hike than a (very painful) nero.

    Before a long hike, you should do some walking around in an atempt to find "problem areas": places where you are prone to develop chafing. Keep these areas very well groomed and clean: it will make treating it later much less uncomfortable. In fact, I'd recomend shaving the local area imediately around "problem areas" to make applying bandages or possibly CTB much more painless. Truly, the best thing you can do before a hike is to wash the inside of your thighs and other chafe-prone regions.

    This hiking blog recomends washing problem areas with Dr Bronner's Pepermint Soap. The soap would remove dirt, dried sweat, and bacteria like normal soap, but the pepermint oil helps toughen skin. Also, the odor associated with chafing is almost as bad as the rash itself, and pepermint oil would be a great fix for that issue. I highly recomend bringing a little bar of this and rubbing a little bit on a chafed area and then rinsing it with water. Be warned, though, the pepermint oil may burn (but you'll find that most chafing solutions do).
    http://krudmeister.blogspot.com/2010/10/chafe.html

    Clothing is the most major cause of chafing. Shorts and undershorts that are ill-fitting cause friction, and if they don't vent well they lead to heat and moisture buildup. Do not wear cotton undershorts, they fray and don't dry quickly. ExOfficio and UnderArmour make good shorts. Compression shorts, in general, work very well.

    Many hikers who've gone the whole 2200 miles swear by kilts. I, personally, have never worn a kilt, but if this many people have this much good to say about something it must be worth looking into. This, like many gear topics, will cause some debate. Look into all reasonable suggestions: find what works for you.

    It is highly recomended that you bring multiple pairs of shorts/underwear. This way, one can be drying while you wear the other. Most hikers recomend brining black shorts so any stains are less visible. Also certain brands of shorts are more prone to holding odors than others. (See what I meant when I said it's uncomfortable to discuss?)

    To sumarize:
    - Clean problem areas before a hike
    - Bring proper clothing
    - Switch out clothing when it gets wet

    How is it treated?

    When chafing develops, stop and follow these steps. This may take up to half-an-hour, but it will make your hike much more enjoyable:
    - Wash the area with water and, possibly, soap to remove dried sweat, dirt, dead skin, and other irritants. You should only need ~1/2cup of water, unless the chafing covers a large area. I would not recomend stream water because it can contain irritants: use water you would drink.
    - Wash the area with an anti-microbial agent. The most common are Iodine, Isopropyl Alcohol, and Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2). These also reduce odor, according to some, which is a very nice benefit.
    - Wash area again to remove excess anti-microbial.
    - Dry the area with a towel of some sort. I recomend a ShamWow or other water-retaining cloth because bandanas don't absorb water well, and may irritate the chafe. Plus, ShamWows are very useful things to have in general.
    - Apply some sort of lube to the area if you are continuing to hike. I recomend Petroleum Jelly because of its multi-purpose capabilities. However, many people highly recomend BodyGlide.

    Every morning and large break durring a long hike take a little time to clean your problem areas regardless if chafing seems to be developing or not. Water, and perhaps a anti-biotic wipe would be fine: you wouldn't need to apply anti-microbials for this, although they do reduce odor (be sure to pack used wipes out: they don't decompose like toilet paper).

    If something is rubbing up against your body causing the chafe, put a barrier between them. A bit of padding, like gauze, held down by a layer of waterproof duct tape works well. Remember not to duct tape any hairs: that would be painful (hence the shaving).

    When you turn in for the night, clean the area well once again to remove any lube. If you think you need it, apply GoldBond foot powder or some other sort of drying powder (talc powder, baby powder, etc), and expose to the air to dry by sleeping with minimal clothing/sleeping bag (only in your tent, nobody in the shelters wants to deal with that). GoldBond foot powder has the benefit of being anti-fungal, which can prevent a slew of other, even more unpleasant, issues down the line. Although, it's possible powders will sting if the area is raw.

    If the area is extremely raw or bleeding, apply gauze/band-aids as you normally would. Neosporin or some other anti-microbial should always be applied to bleeding wounds like that. Bleeding between the thighs is at a high risk of infection due to the ease at which bacteria can build up if not cleaned regularly.

    Iodine VS Alcohol VS Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2):

    Iodine, Isopropyl Alcohol, and Hydrogen Peroxide all are used as anti-microbial agents on the trail. The pros and cons of any of them are the same in this situation as they would be in any situation. Here are the general points to know, and you should remember that different people may have different experiences, and different brands can use different concentrations, etc:
    Iodine- Burns the most, according to many people. Although Povidone Iodine, reportedly, does not burn as much. Iodine does not react quickly with the skin, and can remain on the wound for a long time, which means long-term anti-microbial protection. Also, some people have alergic reactions to iodine.
    Alcohol- Burns less than Iodine, but it still burns. In fact, some find that the difference is not noticeable. Alcohol reacts away quickly, and doesn't leave a residue.
    H2O2- Does not burn; in fact, causes a cooling, bubbling feeling. Reacts quickly. Hydrogen Peroxide naturally decomposes into water over time, so a large bottle bought in Georgia could be less effective in Maine, although the rate isn't fast enough to render it completely useless after 6 months. H2O2 is also multi-purpose: it can be used as a mouthwash. Don't swallow it.
    H2O2 > H2O + O, 2O > O2 (in non-chemistry speak, Hydrogen Peroxide decomposes into water and oxygen gas)

    Do not use Iodine or Alcohol on kids: they will cry. A lot. People will glare at you and talk about you in the registry. And try to keep it away from super sensitive areas.
    A word about Benzoin and Neosporin: CTB, the most common form of Benzoin, is a glue. If applying it, make sure the area is hairless. There is some discussion to the effectiveness of CTB as an anti-microbial, and I would look deeper into it if I was thinking about using it. Neosporin, as a cream, can be used, but doesn't neutralize odor as well as the three recomended above.

    Summary:
    - Clean with water and anti-microbial to remove irritants
    - Apply lube while hiking to reduce friction
    - Atempt to dry as thouroghly as possible while resting

    Other considerations:

    Even the absolute worst chafe should be gone in 2-3 days of no hiking and constant, atentive treatment (if it started to bleed it may still be scabbing over at this time, but that's fine). If it hasn't improved noticeably it may have developed into something fungus or yeast-related: I would recomend you check with a pharmacist or dermatologist and review other threads on this subject.

    If the constant cycles of applying water, anti-microbial, and then more water twice a day seem to be excessive, they won't as soon as your thighs start to look and feel like you took a piece of sandpaper to them: be smart and think ahead.

    If you fail to bring the nessecary first-aid materials to treat this common issue, do not demand that other hikers give theirs to you. It's rude and you should've known better for trying to be so frugal with weight or cost. Learn from your lesson and carry proper gear.

    When bringing along one of the three anti-biotics listed above, its best to learn a bit about their application in first aid. One thing to remember, though, is that they are for surface wounds. Do not apply them to anything deeper than a half-inch. Seek help for that.

    Finally, I would recomend checking as many pages, threads, and remedies on this as possible. Gear recomendations are always great. Learning the hard way isn't the best way to do things.

    I will update this thread with any new pertinent information. Also, the comments section is sure to generate some good stuff.
    Last edited by tolkien; 05-10-2011 at 08:18.
    Made it down the coast in seventeen hours/ Pickin' me a bouquet of dogwood flowers

  2. #2
    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    OOOOOwch...

    Copied "When you turn in for the night, clean the area well once again and remove any lube. Apply GoldBond foot powder, and expose to the air to dry by sleeping with minimal clothing/sleeping bag (only in your tent, nobody in the shelters wants to deal with that). If the area is extremely raw or bleeding, apply gauze/bandaids as you normally would. Neosporin should always be applied to bleeding wounds like that."

    Gold bond hurts too for you sensitive folk... Neo has nothing on Tinactin and that would be a better choice. WB tries very hard and the writers to afford the best information
    But when chafe is so bad that there is no solution... Get the iodine! bite the bullet and do it.
    Last edited by Wise Old Owl; 05-09-2011 at 21:35.
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

  3. #3
    Registered User tolkien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Owl View Post
    OOOOOwch...

    Copied "When you turn in for the night, clean the area well once again and remove any lube. Apply GoldBond foot powder, and expose to the air to dry by sleeping with minimal clothing/sleeping bag (only in your tent, nobody in the shelters wants to deal with that). If the area is extremely raw or bleeding, apply gauze/bandaids as you normally would. Neosporin should always be applied to bleeding wounds like that."

    Gold bond hurts too for you sensitive folk... Neo has nothing on Tinactin and that would be a better choice. WB tries very hard and the writers to afford the best information
    But when chafe is so bad that there is no solution... Get the iodine! bite the bullet and do it.
    Iodine is what I use and what I recomend: the sting is worth the fast healing. Gold Bond powder, baby powder, or even corn starch is used to dry up a chafe that may not be dry overnight otherwise.
    Made it down the coast in seventeen hours/ Pickin' me a bouquet of dogwood flowers

  4. #4

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    I take a pack of Charmin wipes ( http://www.alltravelsizes.com/01-a-07-l.html ) everytime I go out on a multi-day hike. Be proactive, not reactive. Wipe down the "hot spots" every night. NEVER had a problem with chafing once I started doing this. Easily worth the extra ounce or two per pack.
    Last edited by pafarmboy; 05-09-2011 at 22:09.

  5. #5

    Default Topical Iodine

    The stinging variety of iodine is merthiolate, and it's not used much in medicine anymore. Much more common is Povidone Iodine (also known by its trade name, Betadine). It doesn't burn when applied to an open wound, and yet it disinfects well.

    I have no idea how it might help or hinder a chafing situation, but at least the application shouldn't be painful.

  6. #6
    Registered User tolkien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doheir View Post
    The stinging variety of iodine is merthiolate, and it's not used much in medicine anymore. Much more common is Povidone Iodine (also known by its trade name, Betadine). It doesn't burn when applied to an open wound, and yet it disinfects well.

    I have no idea how it might help or hinder a chafing situation, but at least the application shouldn't be painful.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiomersal (merthiolate is the trade name of thiomersal). It does not contain Iodine, and in fact contains Mercury, which is probably the reason it is not used any more as an anti-microbial despite it's effectiveness.
    But non-stinging Iodine is defentively something to look into: none of the sites I looked at, nor my own personal experience, claimed Iodine didn't sting.
    Made it down the coast in seventeen hours/ Pickin' me a bouquet of dogwood flowers

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    Thumbs up

    I'm glad to see that you spelt chafing correctly this time.
    (Chaffing is an anti-missile defense...)
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    Quote Originally Posted by camojack View Post
    I'm glad to see that you spelt chafing correctly this time.
    (Chaffing is an anti-missile defense...)
    Oh yeah? Well "spelt" is a kind of wheat, he SPELLED it correctly this time. Nothing worse than a grammar cop with a third grade reading level...


  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by kwijibo1234 View Post
    Oh yeah? Well "spelt" is a kind of wheat, he SPELLED it correctly this time. Nothing worse than a grammar cop with a third grade reading level...

    Well, before you pass out from the rolling of your eyes, you might want to check some sources:

    While spelt, as a noun, refers to a variety of wheat, spelt as a verb is as acceptable, although secondary and to some minds archaic, past tense of "so spell".

    We'll draw our own conclusions about YOUR reading level.

    O, sources:

    American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
    Websters New World Collegiate Dictionary
    Cambridge Dictionary of American English
    Compact Oxford English Dictionary

    All available online.

    I try not to be snarky, but when someone shows their hindquarters so clearly in response to a two year old post, it's difficult to restrain oneself.

  10. #10
    Wanna-be hiker trash
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    Slow day at the office fellas?
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

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    Here's my do it all in a less than 1 oz can I use for chafing, bug bites, moisturizer, deodorant, bruises, small scrapes, scratches, etc - BURT'S BEES RES Q OINTMENT. That. and a .4 oz can of tiger balm are all I tend to take to the trail these days. I used to have a seperate Body Glide Stick to prevent friction on my feet and chafing, seperate hard stick lip moisturizer, After Bite spray(for bug bites), etc The Res Q Ointment doesn't totally repel gnats and mosquitos but they don't like it either.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    Slow day at the office fellas?
    Prezactly.

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    Small amount of Aquaphor can do wonders to prevent chafing and heal.

  14. #14

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    Green goo - aka Solarcaine sunburn relief with aloe and Lidocaine - works really well to soothe chafed areas. Amway used to make a great product called Aftersun that we used on the trail, but Solarcaine seems to be the same thing under a new label. It may sting when you first put it on, but then a day, or at most two days later, you're healed. Magic.

    My local running store gave me a sample of a product called Runguard to prevent chafing. Looks like deodorant, but leaves no mess. So far it has worked well when running in the heat.

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    Hey Dogwood, does the Burt's Bees stuff work to prevent chafing or just help after it's happened? And does it work as good as the Body Glide I'm using now which is amazing! I'd love to replace it with something smaller.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butterfly58 View Post
    Hey Dogwood, does the Burt's Bees stuff work to prevent chafing or just help after it's happened? And does it work as good as the Body Glide I'm using now which is amazing! I'd love to replace it with something smaller.

    Yes, Body Glide is amazing!

    Body Glide is available in regular and travel size. I bring the travel size when backpacking.

    Body Glide per day keeps the chafing away... Period!
    aka Papa Bear! NOBO section hiker, 1023.7 miles... & counting!!

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    Would recommend *against* corn starch based powders (starch-based baby powders and the like). If you are brewing a fungal infection down there the cornstarch is simply going to be another source of food for said fungus. Gold bond is talc-based, as are a lot of other body powders.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by doheir View Post
    The stinging variety of iodine is merthiolate, and it's not used much in medicine anymore. Much more common is Povidone Iodine (also known by its trade name, Betadine). It doesn't burn when applied to an open wound, and yet it disinfects well.

    I have no idea how it might help or hinder a chafing situation, but at least the application shouldn't be painful.
    Quote Originally Posted by tolkien View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiomersal (merthiolate is the trade name of thiomersal). It does not contain Iodine, and in fact contains Mercury, which is probably the reason it is not used any more as an anti-microbial despite it's effectiveness.
    But non-stinging Iodine is defentively something to look into: none of the sites I looked at, nor my own personal experience, claimed Iodine didn't sting.
    ah yes...Mercurochrome...the stuff use to work great, and burned like hell. We use to call it..how shall I say this "No daddy no, not the monkey blood" but the S*** worked.


    Mercurochrome


    Mercurochrome is a trade name of merbromin. The name is also commonly used for over-the-counter antiseptic solutions consisting of merbromin (typically at 2% concentration) dissolved in either ethyl alcohol (tincture) or water (aqueous).
    Its antiseptic qualities were discovered by Johns Hopkins Hospital physician Hugh H. Young in 1918.[2] The chemical soon became popular among parents and physicians for everyday antiseptic uses, and it was commonly used for minor injuries in the schoolyard.
    The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed it from the “generally recognized as safe” and into the “untested” classification to effectively halt its distribution in the United States on October 19, 1998 over fears of potential mercury poisoning.[3] Sales were halted in Germany in 2003,[4] and in France in 2006.[5] It is readily available in most other countries.[citation needed]
    Within the United States, products such as Humco Mercuroclear play on the brand recognition history of Mercurochrome but substitute other ingredients with similar properties (Mercuroclear: "Aqueous solution of benzalkonium chloride and lidocaine hydrochloride").[6]



    A+D Ointment for diaper rash works pretty well also. And this can be squeezed into a straw for small amounts instead of carrying a whole tube.

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/A-D-Diaper...ndingMethod=rr
    Last edited by rocketsocks; 07-08-2013 at 00:39.

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    I get it right where my hip belt goes over my hips. It digs in and breaks the skin. Any ideas on this?

  20. #20
    Registered User FarmerChef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Mack View Post
    I get it right where my hip belt goes over my hips. It digs in and breaks the skin. Any ideas on this?
    Hmmm...total armchair quarterbacking here but something about your fit doesn't sound right if it's breaking the skin. If the belt is bearing the weight of your pack it should be fairly stable and, for lack of a better word, "still." This would tend to preclude chafing. Otherwise, try a bit of Body Glide over that area. Also remember to take breaks where you take your pack off. Wipe the area down with a wet bandana or other item that will help wash accumulating salts off the area. This may help prevent chafing as well.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

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