Nipple Chafing

Nipple chafing affects runners, women, and men and can be extremely painful and embarrassing. It is cracked, irritated sore nipple caused by rubbing or friction.

How nipple chaffing occurs:

Nipple chafing just like a common cold, fever or a cough, is quite common in runners or cyclists or people exercising. Running and sweating go hand in hand. After a long run, your T-shirt usually gets drenched with sweat and you may suffer from nipple chafing. Chaffed nipples develop when you notice an itching and tingling sensation around your nipples. The nipple area is susceptible and frequent rubbing and friction makes it sore. Soreness leads to blisters or fissures to develop on the nipples and can be quite painful and embarrassing.

Who are at risk?

Nipple chafing usually affects men more than women. The main reason is that runners who do not wear a sports bra are at a higher risk of suffering from it. As already known, men do not wear sports bra and women can fall prey if they run without one. Other risk factors include if you:-

  • Have Sensitive skin
  • Are Dehydrated
  • Are a salty sweater
  • Work out for long periods of time
  • Exercise in humid conditions or rain
  • Are wearing a cloth that has terrible seams or worn

Symptoms of nipple chafing:

Signs of nipple chafing can occur in one or both nipples. The symptoms usually vary in duration and severity. The main symptoms of nipple chafing include:

  • Redness
  • Open cracks or sores
  • Bleeding
  • Soreness
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Crustiness or scabbing
  • Chaffed or dry appearance

Causes of nipple chaffing

Lack of undergarments beneath running attire

This is why it is particularly prevalent in men more than women. Women have a habit of wearing a sports bra under their running or jogging apparel. The moment they go running or jogging with a sports bra, they are likely to be affected too.

Course jogging/running apparel

Men who wear jogging or running clothing that is made of rough material are often affected by nipple chafing. This is because the material rubs against the nipple skin irritating it.

Dermatological problems

If you already suffer from dermatological issues such as dermatitis or eczema, you are very likely to be affected by nipple chaffing. You, therefore, have to be very careful in selecting the right clothing and also take all your medications.

Breast cancer

Women you have breast cancer are particularly likely to develop chaffed nipples while exercising. The main reason is that the breast area is already sensitive and delicate due to the growing lump in the breasts. The possibility of having a discharge at regular intervals from the nipples also increases. Talk to your doctor if you suspect that a breast lump may be developing.


Changing weather can be challenging too. Couple this up with pollution and its characteristics, weather can affect us all. If the weather is chilly, nipples usually become perky and hard and rub more against your clothing. If you exercise even during the raining season, your already chafed nipples may be affected by the fast growth of bacteria. For this reason, you will need to observe excellent personal hygiene when under such types of weather. Remember that our planet is polluted and makes our bodies vulnerable to natural enemies.

How to prevent nipple chaffing:

  • Avoid wearing loose fitting clothes while exercising since it’s more likely to rub against the skin than clothes that are close fitting. Avoiding baggy fitting clothes does not mean too tight though, your clothes should allow smooth movement and a little air flow. Also, remember that less is more when it comes to dressing up for exercise. If the weather is warm, you can run without a shirt as a man and in only a sports bra if you are a woman.
  • Ensure that the clothes you wear while exercising are made of synthetic fabric. This is because they are non-absorbent meaning that they dry quickly, can minimize friction and are lightweight, unlike cotton clothes.
  • Never wear somebody’s exercise clothes. It’s as unhygienic as using someone’s toothbrush. Be very realistic and buy your exercising garments.
  • Apply an anti-chafe lubricant right before you head out to exercise to reduce friction to the skin. Most people opt for petroleum jelly based products such as Vaseline, patches or tape. Natural alternatives are excellent in preventing chafing since they also heal the damaged skin rapidly.
  • If you have oily skin and are wondering how you will use a lubricant or you dislike the greasy feeling, you have another option. Powder! The smooth particles will be able to prevent nipple abrasion and friction.
  • It's critical for men to cover their nipples just like how women do by wearing sports bras. There are several products in the market intended to help men cover up the nipples, they include nipple guards, bannerettes or nipple Band-Aids.
  • Ensure that you drink plenty of water every day. When you are hydrated, it prevents the nipple from chaffing. Dehydration makes the epidermis of the skin dry.

Treatment of nipple chaffing:

  • Never ignore a nipple chaffing thinking that it will go away on its own, it should be treated immediately.
  • Gently clean your nipples with warm water and dry it thoroughly.
  • Apply petroleum jelly to your nipples it will heal after some days
  • Cover your nipples with a soft gauze pad while wearing shirts to avoid further irritation
  • Avoid wearing scratchy or rough shirts; as a woman, you may need to avoid wearing bras with seams over the nipples
  • You will need to give your skin time to heal from chafing before heading back to your exercise routine. This is because continued friction usually worsens the problem leading to infection.
  • If you notice that your nipple is swollen, bleeding or crusted and very painful, you may need to visit a health care provider who may recommend an antibiotic ointment.

You should try as much as you can to prevent the possibility of irritation on your nipple. After all, prevention is better than cure. Never give a chance to nipple chaffing since it will disrupt your exercising routine.