There’s something we need to discuss. It’s not particularly glamorous, but it is absolutely necessary: How can you go bare-legged in women’s skirts and dresses without risking thigh chafing? You might have heard many cutesy or even irreverent names for this condition, such as “chub rub” or the bawdy “fat rash,” but it’s plain old heat and friction that can literally wear through your skin. Moreover, while those rather indelicate terms have stuck, thigh chafing can happen to anyone—men or women, curvy or slender, fit or sedentary. The shape of one’s pelvic bone can cause thighs to touch on even a very lean frame! No one is automatically immune to this painful phenomenon.
Chafed skin hurts, and for some reason, the chafing that can happen on one’s inner thighs when you wear a skirt or dress bare-legged without proper preparation is especially
painful. It can cover a large area, you have no choice but to walk to where you will find relief from air conditioning, ointment, and pants, and because your thighs can’t miraculously stop touching, the chafed area can take a long time to heal . . . the list goes on and on. The real question becomes, how can we prevent thigh chafing? What can we do to make sure it doesn’t even begin? Luckily, I have done the legwork on this problem, no pun intended, and am happy to share with you my top five chub rub prevention tricks!
Personally, I wear one of my usual ultra-high-waist, bike-short-style light compression garments literally any time I wear a skirt or dress. The style I wear are perfectly comfortable to me, wick sweat well, help my clothing lay smoothly on my figure, and protect my privacy whether it’s windy or I want to hop on the swings with my daughter. However, many women don’t care for compression garments or perhaps don’t have a large collection of them at hand, and that’s okay! Currently, there are many, many anti-chafing garments readily available from Internet retailers, as well as plenty of brick-and-mortar stores. There are styles akin to men’s boxer shorts, athletic shorts, and even bands of stretchy fabric to wear around your thighs, rather like a wide wedding garter. The style of anti-chafing garment you choose is down to the shape of your thighs, the kind of protection you need, and your personal comfort. Try not to get discouraged if your first choice isn’t right for you—there are more styles to try, and one of them will be work!
There are gels and sticks available anywhere first aid supplies are sold that you simply apply to your thighs to prevent chafing. These products are also readily available at stores catering to runners, since people who jog daily or run marathons have to guard against chafed skin just as carefully as ladies in fit and flare sundresses! A quick Google search will turn up all of your options, and reviews to help you decide which product you want to try first. I personally own several, and they all do the trick. These preparations are especially useful in situations where one cannot wear a special garment, such as when wearing a bathing suit.
Several people I know swear by garden-variety solid antiperspirant as an anti-chafing precaution, and I have used both that and baby powder in a pinch. What I learned about both of these options, though, is that they require reapplication. If you are carrying a bag and know you’ll have an opportunity to stop in restrooms, you might try them, especially if your risk of chub rub only affects a small area of your legs.
The application of petroleum jelly or cornstarch are two popular folk-wisdom chafing-prevention tricks. Full transparency; I have never tried cornstarch, although I have used petroleum jelly in an emergency. While the petroleum jelly was messy and did not last all day, it absolutely cut the friction that causes painful “chub rub.” If you find yourself out of options, these are fair game. And, depending on your personal body shape and what gives you the most comfort, one of these may turn out to be your favorite anti-chafing trick!
Let’s just say you find yourself without any of the abovementioned anti-chafing items, and you simply must wear your planned outfit based around a skirt or dress. This is not a catastrophe, just an opportunity to showcase your creativity! Old-fashioned lip balm, as in Chapstick, can work to prevent chafing. It may take a lot, but it will work. Solid sunscreen, generally marketed for one’s face, will work, too. Take scissors to a pair of thick tights or thin leggings; the quickly-fashioned anti-chafing garment may not be pretty, but it will protect you. If your outfit accommodates it, wear regular women’s shorts under your dress, the way we did in elementary school. We lived in dread of showing “the boys” our undies, and happily wore regular shorts under our ‘70s prairie dresses to prevent it! If these tips have an air of desperation, then you have probably never experienced a severe case of inner-thigh chafing. The pain of extreme chafing can be excruciating, it can cause bleeding, and it can scar. We encourage you to do whatever you must to prevent severe chafing—no dress is worth that, ever.
Be aware of other chafing spots that might benefit from preventative care—your feet in sandals, the undersides of your arms when you wear a sequined dress or top, or your calves if your socks don’t come to the top of your boots. Prevent chafing anywhere you can for maximum comfort in your clothing. Plan your outfits for comfort as well as style. I know that I have foolproof protection against chafing, but if there were any doubt in my mind, I would consider a different ensemble. Women can now wear pants to almost any location or occasion if they are of the appropriate material and style; take advantage of the revolution! Keep cool. Hydrate, find a spot in the shade, carry a hand fan, and sit when possible. All of these things will help stave off thigh chafing, at least a bit. Whatever you need to do to ensure your comfort (within reason—you may not show up to your godson’s wedding in ratty sweats!) is perfectly fine.
I love wearing dresses! If you do, too, know that having thighs that touch, whether due to your size or your shape, need not prevent you from wearing the styles you love. With a little forethought or perhaps creativity, you can wear whatever you wish, whenever you wish, without dreading the pain of thigh chafing. We believe you’ll be happier for it, and definitely more stylish!