How To Prevent And Treat Summer Chafing For Men

Ditch the discomfort down there with these dermatologist-recommended tips.

If you’re dreaming of beach days and board shorts, margaritas on the patio and Instagram-worthy pool floaties, you’re not alone. What probably isn’t part of your summer dreams is chafing, something people of all genders deal with during the hotter months. But particularly, folks with testicles may find that skin irritation happens in extra-delicate areas, which can put a bit of a damper on your plans.

Great news: We spoke with two dermatologists who agree chafing is 100% preventable with the right products and lifestyle changes. They shared their tried-and-true tips, advice for treating chafing if you already have it, and when a doctor should take a look at your goods, just to be safe.

Here’s the rub

People who experience chafing probably already know this, but it’s caused by a simple combination: moisture plus friction. Thanks to all the water, sweat and outdoor activities summer brings, it’s no surprise it also happens to be chafing season.

“Chafing is due to friction and moisture inherent to this area. When you get rubbing of skin on skin, it can disrupt the skin barrier and cause it to be red and irritated and sting,” said Dr. Muneeb Shah, chief resident of dermatology at Campbell University in North Carolina. “It’s uncomfortable of course and can really affect someone’s quality of life or ability to exercise, and it does have long-term consequences because a lot of people will develop hyperpigmentation in this area, especially if they have skin of color.”

Chafing can lead to other issues, too.

“While not dangerous, skin breakdown can sometimes result in burning, itching and pain to affected areas which can be very uncomfortable to many,” said Dr. Adeline Kikam, a board-certified dermatologist (and educator focusing on skin of color). “It also puts one at risk of skin infection since the skin barrier is compromised.”

Shah said if you notice any unusual skin irritation down under, it’s best to have a doctor examine it to make sure it really is just chafing. “There are a lot of rashes that can develop in the groin area that can be bacterial, fungal, yeast or genetic conditions. Any time you see irritation in that area, it’s good to get a diagnosis and make sure it’s not something more serious,” Shah added.

Small changes stop chafing

If dampness and rubbing are what bring the pain, then making some simple lifestyle changes can help.

On top of applying anti-chafing products before you leave the house, Kikam recommends opting for moisture-wicking clothing (like polyester undies over cotton), wearing seamless or loose-fitting clothing to reduce friction, changing out of sweaty clothes or bathing suits ASAP to reduce moisture, and applying anti-chafing products before leaving the house.

Anti-chafing products that’ll help

These are the products both docs say will keep chafing at bay so you can enjoy the perfect summer day.

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An extra-strength diaper rash cream
Both Kikam and Shah say a diaper rash ointment with zinc oxide is the perfect prevention and treatment product for chafing.

“If you want to get something that’s really going to work, get 40% zinc oxide,” Shah said. “One of the best things in this area is diaper rash creams, like Desitin. They have high concentrations of zinc oxide. Zinc oxide helps repair the skin in this area and also reduce the friction.”
A simple, effective body powder
Body powder is another baby-adjacent solution to chafing, no matter your age.

“Powders can reduce friction, but you could just as easily use a foot powder,” Shah said. “I think they do definitely help to decrease friction, if you have a powder that’s more cornstarch-based that’s totally fine, but you don’t want those irritating ingredients like essential oils or talc.”
A cornstarch-based stick
Kikam explained that cornstarch-based products decrease the risk of chafing by reducing excessive moisture and friction. If a typical Gold Bond powder doesn’t work for you, maybe a stick formulation will.

“As far as the anti-chafing sticks that exist, as long as they’re nonirritating, I think that’s completely reasonable. Irritating things would be alpha hydroxy acids, fragrances or essential oils. The Gold Bond stick has zinc oxide, friction defense and aloe.”
A balm stick to reduce friction
“Petroleum jelly, such as the Vaseline Aloe Refreshing Petroleum Jelly Stick, helps improve glide and friction in skin-to-skin contact," Kikam said.
A moisturizing anti-chafing stick
“Megababe Thigh Rescue is formulated with antioxidants and moisturizing ingredients, like vitamin E along with grapeseed oil, to improve glide and friction,” Kikam said. “This stick formula is convenient and easy to use for chafing concerns.”
Compression shorts for zero movement
“Anti-chafing garments that are lightweight, stretchable, breathable, have wicking fabric and are cooling are very effective in reducing some risk of chafing,” Kikam said.

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