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Summer is officially here, which means it's time for shorts, sundresses and swimsuits. It also means that one dreaded problem is bound to return — chafing. The ultimate culprit of discomfort during the summer months, chafing can turn a good day into a painful one and likely make you reconsider your outfit choices for the rest of the season.
If you stocked up on breezy sundresses ahead of the summer and don't want to sacrifice style for comfort, an anti-chafing balm can help relieve some of the irritation — whether it's on your thighs, arms or chest.
Since chafing affects nearly everyone on some level, there are plenty of anti-chafing products that are designed for different skin types and preferences. To help sort through them all, we reached out to dermatologists to find out which products can keep you feeling your best all summer long.
How to prevent chafing
Chafing occurs when skin continuously rubs against skin or clothing. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to combat the irritation.
"In general, when looking for something to prevent chafing, you are looking for something to create a barrier between the skin, or the skin and tight clothing, to prevent irritation that can be caused by rubbing or friction," New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick told Shop TODAY.
Anti-chafing balms, powders, and creams can help create this barrier prior to exercising or other activities that may cause chafing or irritation.
What should you look for in anti-chafing products?
"In general, you should look for ingredients that provide protection for the skin surface and help calm and repair the skin," said Dr. Y. Claire Chang, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York. "I recommend looking for emollients and occlusive ingredients in an anti-chafe balm, which provide a physical barrier to help protect against excessive irritation and moisture."
It might seem overwhelming to find a suitable anti-chafing product, but Chang tells us there a few simple ingredients to keep in mind. Ingredients such as zinc oxide, waxes and petrolatum can help form a protective barrier, while aloe and vitamin E can help calm the skin.
Keeping your skin protected is key, but if chafing has already occurred, New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Hadley King says you should clean the area and then dry it thoroughly.
"Stay dry — wet skin can make chafing worse," King said. "Apply powders to absorb moisture and don’t stay in wet or sweaty clothing."
While balms, creams and powders can help reduce chafing, it's best to consult your dermatologist if irritation is painful or swollen to determine the best treatment option.
Dermatologist-recommended anti-chafing products
Chang, Garshick and King all recommend this balm to help create a protective barrier on the skin. Garshick notes that it is small enough to carry around, so it is easy to use on-the-go and is both sweat- and water-resistant.
King recommends this "thigh rescue" stick and notes that its ingredients can help relieve the skin. "It contains aloe for cooling and anti-inflammatory properties, and grapeseed oil for hydration," King said.
Chang recommended this stick since it contains zinc oxide for extra protection. "Zinc oxide is a skin protectant that forms a barrier on the skin surface to protect it from moisture and irritation," Chang said. Garshick also notes that it is unscented and non-greasy.
"While more often thought of for diaper rash, this zinc-based cream can also help to prevent chafing by serving as a barrier cream," Garshick told us. The smooth and creamy formula also includes zinc oxide, which protects against moisture.
Garshick says this cream can provide protection anywhere on the body. The non-greasy formula currently holds a near-perfect 4.8-star rating on Amazon and is the bestselling anti-chafing product on the site.
King recommends this easy-to-apply product that provides protection against friction, blisters and general chafing. Even better? The formula is waterproof and sweat-proof, so King says you don't need to worry about reapplying.
Chang says this gel "applies like a primer" and works to prevent irritation and chafing in sensitive areas. It combines the protective benefits of powders and lotions in one to help alleviate friction and redness along the inner thighs, bikini area and more.
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