Moisture + Friction + Heat = Chafing (aka “chub rub”).
You could be having a peaceful sleep, a morning jog, a casual stroll, enjoying a summer vacation, or playing a sport and there it comes — your skin and clothes feel like two pieces of wood rubbing together. And it burns! It’s painful to say the least.
More so when it happens to a very delicate part of your body like the vulva. This is called vaginal chafing: an irritation on the vulva usually caused by sweat, friction, and possibly pelvic floor dysfunction.
We’ll talk more about this condition and the most effective ways to cool the burn and put the fire out!
Note: Although the vagina and vulva (the outer part of the female genitals) are different, for the sake of simplicity, we will refer to the vulva as the vagina in this blog.
What Causes Vagina Chafing?
Chafing is mainly caused by repeated friction (through skin-to-skin or skin-to-material contact) and moisture, especially during warm weather. It can also be triggered or worsened by:
• Physical Activities
Running, jogging, bicycling, sports, and rough sex, for example, may cause chafing on different parts of your body because of repetitive motions and sweat.
• Tight Clothes
Ill-fitting underwear or any piece of clothing may rub too hard on your skin causing irritation.
excess weight may also increase the likelihood of skin rubbing and irritation.
Nursing moms may experience skin chafing due to moisture on the nipples and wearing a nursing bra. If you’re experiencing sore breasts read this.
Diapers, sanitary napkins, and scented pads may also cause chafing because of trapped moisture, especially if it’s made of low-quality materials or not changed properly. Douching and toilet paper can also be at fault.
Although this is the least likely cause on the list, it’s highly possible for women with prolapse to experience chafing. This condition is more common in new mothers (called postpartum prolapse). Some women consider surgery for their prolapse because of how it affects their daily life, but we highly discourage prolapse surgery due to its many risks and high rate of recurrence.
Is Vagina Chafing a Serious Condition?
Vaginal chafing alone is not a fatal condition. However, it can progress to a more serious skin condition or infection if there’s an open wound or if it’s left untreated.
You may be wondering “Is chafing a yeast infection?”
The simple answer is no.
Vulvar irritation is only one of the many symptoms of yeast infection.
Other symptoms include:
• Soreness or rashes in the vagina (vulva) that are hot, itchy, or painful
• Burning sensation during sex or urination
• Vaginal discharge that is watery or resembles cottage cheese
What Is The Difference Between Vagina Chafing and Intertrigo?
Intertrigo is an irritant dermatitis that occurs mostly on two closely opposed moist skin surfaces (ex. armpits or under the breast crease). Like chafing, it also breaks down the top layers of the skin through rubbing. But intertrigo causes inflammation, rashes, and tender patches from bacteria or fungus.
Simply put, intertrigo is a serious health issue and chafing can be one of its symptoms.
An unhealthy diet, Vitamin D deficiency, certain medical conditions (such as diabetes or human deficiency virus infections), and excessive sweating are some of the factors that may increase your risk of developing intertrigo.
What can I do to prevent chafing?
Although you have no control over some factors that increase the chances of vaginal chafing like hot weather or sweating, there are simple steps you can do to keep yourself less susceptible to it:
• Change wet clothes or underwear immediately
• Take a warm shower after a workout
• Wear cotton panties or none if possible (especially at night)
• Invest in proven and tested anti-chafe creams
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Control sugar intake (especially if you have diabetes)
• Practice good hygiene
• Keep your pubic hair trimmed
Natural treatments for vaginal chafing
The old adage “prevention is better than cure” still holds profound wisdom when it comes to vaginal chafing. But in case you’re already experiencing chafing, don’t fret, there are lots of ways you can heal it!
But first, you need to find out the underlying cause and from there, you may refer to your doctor for appropriate remedies.
Treatments may include:
• Using moisturizer
• Using lubrication (especially during sex)
• Taking oatmeal baths
• Taking antihistamines
• Using anti-itch or anti-chafing creams or ointments
• Applying cold compresses to the affected area for 5-10 minutes
• Washing your genitals using warm water and or very gentle soap
At the same time, here’s what you need to avoid.
The 3 DON’TS:
• Do not soak the chafed skin in hot water or harsh, fragrance body soap.
• Never use hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant.
• Avoid using hot or warm compresses.
How about baby powder
Generally, baby powder falls short in 3 aspects: prevention (only effective for a few minutes or hours), cure (there are better treatment options), and safety (arguably, some studies associate talc (a mineral and baby powder’s main ingredient) to ovarian cancer and other health issues when inhaled).
Not to mention, anything foreign applied directly to your vagina comes with risks.
Watch this video to know the best underwear to prevent chafing
If you are suffering from chafing because of prolapse…
You will need more than anti-chafe creams and cold compresses. But here’s what you won’t need: Kegels, pessaries, or surgery.
Here at MoonRise, we don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all solution for every woman with prolapse. That’s why we offer different programs and methods to rehabilitate your pelvic floor.
All our programs and methods are based on the principles of holistic healing — addressing the root cause of the issue, not just the symptoms.
One method that we offer to address the root cause of chafing is called Hypopressives. This is a low-pressure fitness technique that improves posture, the way you breathe, and creates a “lift” effect in your pelvic floor.
This all leads to the improvement and in a lot of cases, the reversal of prolapse symptoms, including vaginal chafing.
You Can Get Better
No matter the origin of the vaginal chafing, healing from it doesn’t have to be a frustrating or lonely journey.
Get back to feeling comfortable in your body and in your skin, by signing up for our Hypopressives Exercise Course!
To learn about this course and ask any questions you have about it, join me in a FREE Live Webinar. Sign up here.
This course comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free!