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Picture this: you’re strutting down the street in a killer dress and shoe combo that makes you feel like Beyonce’s alter-ego, Sasha Fierce. All of a sudden, as you’re running to the subway (and simultaneously posing for whatever street style photog is nearby), your inner thighs start to throb in pain. No, that’s not your imagination; it’s chafing, also known as the ultimate vibe-killer. Even with the best DIY chafing products, it’s usually a big problem during the summer, as areas like our thighs can become easily inflamed and irritated in the heat.
If you’re wondering what exactly causes chafing, Yale Medicine dermatologist Sarika Ramachandran, MD, says that it usually occurs in areas where the skin rubs together. This friction, she explains, causes the area to become red and painful, making it important to treat this condition with care. And while it’s safe to say that there are tons of online anti-chafing remedies recommendations at your disposal, it’s worth mentioning that some work better than others.
To help you find the best chafing-busting treatments that actually work, we spoke more to Ramachandran (and more) about the ones worth keeping in mind this summer and beyond. From topical treatments to aloe vera gel, below are some anti-chafing DIY remedies that do (and don’t) work according to seasoned skincare professionals.
Cotton Clothing Can Be Helpful
Ramachandran suggests that treating chafing usually includes separating the skin, or applying topicals to the skin that protect it. However, the right clothing choices can be more than helpful when it comes to treating chafing on your legs. She adds that non-irritating cotton clothing protects the skin and allows it to breathe.
Use Topical Zinc Oxide
Anti-chafing remedies also include topical zinc oxide (like powder sunscreen), according to Ramachandran, as it can be carefully applied onto areas (under the breasts, groin, or under the abdomen) that tend to be moist, and then breakdown. However, if the chafing has already started, she advises reapplying the topicals during the day to treat any unwanted discomfort.
Don’t Rely On Coconut Oil
“Coconut oil is a great moisturizer, as it is absorbed quickly into the skin, and can calm inflammation,” says board-certified plastic surgeon Dr.Michelle Lee. However, because it is absorbed so quickly, she notes that this popular go-to oil is not exactly the best remedy in preventing chafing, as you’ll want an ointment that can keep the area lubricated and hydrated longer.
Use Baking Soda Wisely
While baking soda is great at removing moisture, Dr. Lee says that when it’s mixed with the water on your skin, it becomes alkaline. “The alkaline pH of baking soda can upset the balance of the skin’s pH, making it more prone to chafing,” she says.
Use Cornstarch Carefully
According to board-certified celebrity dermatologist Dr. Anna Guanche, “cornstarch is a good option for chafing, as it helps the skin slide and keeps the area dry. Be sure to only use it on the thighs or other areas (but not in the vaginal area) that become sweaty, she advises, and where skin rubs against skin.
Try Using Aloe Vera
“Chafed areas can be treated with aloe vera,” Dr. Guanche says. However, she suggests wearing breathable leggings (or something soft but covered) once you’ve applied your aloe, as loose clothing allows the areas to be cool and dry.
Make A DIY Tumeric Paste
“You can easily make an anti-chafing paste with turmeric at home,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, MD. Turmeric is an antiseptic and has antibacterial properties. Jaliman adds that it’s also effective in helping with healing and the removal of chafing scars.
Mix Manuka Tea Tree Oil With Honey
“Tea tree oil mixed with manuka honey will help with chafing scars,” Dr. Jaliman adds. The tea tree oil has antibacterial properties, helps with irritation, and will help keep the area moist, she explains. The manuka honey, she adds, can also help prevent infection and restore moisture to the area.
Grab Some Vaseline
“You can also apply a little Vaseline to chafed areas,” Dr. Jaliman recommends. It will help prevent friction, she says, and ultimately prevent chafing.
Be Careful How You Use Baby Powder
“Be careful how you use baby powder if you are prone to thigh chafing,” Dr. Jaliman says. Baby powder doesn’t seem to last long enough to prevent some irritation, she explains.