For those uninitiated to chub rub or thigh chafing, they might have thought, “Huh?” But to those of us familiar with that sensation, you probably thought, “Yes, girl. Yes.” You see, when someone whose thighs often rub together decides to walk, run or dance with bare legs for an extended period of time, a sensation begins to express itself in between their thighs that feels like two pieces of sandpaper gave birth to hell.
Maybe Jessa from Girls put it best: “My thighs are really rubbing together like nobody’s business,” she uttered desperately in a 2012 episode of Girls. “It’s like they’re red, and raw and burning hot. It feels like an epic fuckfest with a ghost. I just wish I had a wheelchair for June and July.”
Though many people can relate, chafing is, unfortunately, one of those experiences during the summer that people have altogether decided to rarely discuss openly.
“It’s just inevitable, you know? Unless you lose weight in your thighs,” Kelvin Davis, a plus-size model and blogger, said in an interview. “I’ve tried to stop it. I’ve tried to spread my legs a little bit when I walk, but that’s just uncomfortable. For guys, chafing is just something that we don’t discuss.”
But according to a number of dermatologists, chafing is nothing to be ashamed of, as it’s just one of those naturally occurring events that occur when you have a human body. (Imagine that!) “When skin rubs against skin, it can cause friction and eventually, irritation or chafing,” Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder of Capital Laser & Skin Care and an associate clinical professor at the George Washington University Medical Center, said. “It’s worsened by heat, humidity, sweating and working out, since skin is rubbing faster against itself.”
It really has nothing to do with weight or size either, Tanzi said, but simply whether or not the thighs touch and rub while someone is in motion — and every body is different when it comes to that.
“When I wear any type of clothing, even when I walk nude, my thighs just touch,” Davis said. “With suit pants, since they’re so thin, I have to get them patched in the crotch area because of the holes and tears.”
Just because it feels inevitable to some doesn’t mean people haven’t come up with their own solutions to both preventing it and stopping it in its tracks. For Miss Eaves, who knows all about the chub rub and her shorts creeping up, it’s all about the biker shorts. “My go-to trick is biker shorts under my dresses,” Miss Eaves said in an interview with Mic. “It prevents my thighs from rubbing together which makes them really happy! I have tried deodorant before but after walking a while (I am a sweaty girl), it rubs off and then I end up getting chub rub.”
Eaves said she plans to look into TomboyX so she can just wear tomboy underwear and not worry about the extra layer of biker shorts, too.
Shay Neary, another plus-size model, opts for a particular kind of deodorant: the powder kind from Secret. “Secret deodorant is your best friend as a big girl,” Neary said in an interview. “It’s gotta be the [solid], not the gel type. And don’t skimp and buy cheap stuff, it needs to be Secret. You lather that between your thighs and any areas that stick together and don’t slide. You stick it in your purse and if it’s a very humid day, reapply later. No chafe ever. Pain free.”
There are a number of products currently on the market that are trying to bring chafing remedies into the mainstream conversation. The company Megababe, launched by plus-size blogger Kate Sturino in 2017, has an anti-chafe stick called “Thigh Rescue” that was birthed from Sturino’s personal need.
“This is something people don’t want to talk about,” Sturino told Racked. “No one wants to talk about thigh chafe or boob sweat.”
The product itself looks a lot like deodorant but contains nutrients like aloe, grapeseed oil and lime oil. Then there are products like Monistat’s chafing relief powder gel, which offers a more clinical-seeming solution; Lush’s Silking Underwear dusting powder has also been known to stop thigh chafing in the summer.
As far as dermatologists’ recommendations, Tanzi suggested a combination of a few of these remedies. “Wear clothes to prevent skin-on-skin irritation,” Tanzi said, referring to biker shorts. “And use powders to decrease the friction.”
Dr. Joshua Zeichner, who works as the director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, thinks the preventative caution of using a topical treatment, like moisturizers, will help.
“Moisturizing my skin before exercise can help keep it in as good shape as possible and minimize inflammation from chafing,” Zeichner said. “For example, there’s Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair lotion, which contains triple-purified petrolatum to coat the skin but in a very light, non-greasy formula. If you do develop chafing, you may require a fixed, close appointment to help calm down the skin, like CeraVe Healing Ointment.”
With summer temperatures rising and bodies begging to break free from pants, it’s time to wear a dress, skirt or shorts and not feel ashamed when you’re treating the skin between your thighs with a bit more TLC. Plenty of people — both women and men — feel your pain.