Skip to Content

Runner’s Rash: How to Treat and Prevent a Rash After Running

Runner’s rash can be incredibly frustrating, not to mention irritating. After finishing a run, the last thing a runner wants to do is discover a rash somewhere on their body that stings in the shower or itches as they recover.

Luckily though, runner’s rash can usually be treated and prevented with just a few simple steps. The key to successfully managing it is to treat it as soon as it occurs and be proactive in taking preventative measures before and after each run.

Is it normal to get a rash after running?

It is very common and normal to get a rash after running. The repetitive movement that running involves sets the skin up to rub against either another area of skin, a piece of clothing, or some sort of gear. This continuous rubbing and friction often causes a rash.

What is runner’s rash?

Runner’s rash is often used to describe various forms of chafing. It usually appears in the form of bumps or red patches on the skin that can be raised or look like scratches. Runner’s rash can develop on the groin, thigh, under arms, sports bra area, buttocks and more.

Oftentimes, runners don’t notice that a rash is developing until after running when the area burns in the shower or when changing. Chafing and other rashes often look like no more than a red patch on the skin, and don’t become very noticeable until the area begins to heal.

Causes of Runner’s Rash

While the specific reason for runner’s rash varies from one person to the next, in most cases, it is caused by skin-to-skin or skin-to-clothing rubbing. However, some runners are more prone to this repetitive friction than others. Here are a few of the most common causes for this rubbing.

  • Hot or humid conditions
  • Extra sweaty skin
  • Improper fitting clothing
  • Sensitive skin
  • Large muscles or extra weight
  • Non-breathable clothing

Runner’s Rash Treatment

Luckily, as irritating as runner’s rash can be, the treatment is fair straightforward. In most cases, this rash can be treated fairly quickly and easily right at home. If you notice that you are prone to getting runner’s rash consistently, you can implement some of these practices in your regular pre and post-run routines.

  • Wash the effected area to remove dirt and sweat
  • Allow the area to breathe and air out
  • Apply lotion regularly as the rash heals
  • Apply an ice pack or cold wash cloth
  • Check with your doctor if the rash does not improve with time
Runner's rash can be incredibly irritating. Here are 5 tips to quickly treat it, as well as how to completely prevent a rash after running.

7 Ways to Prevent Runner’s Rash

Although the runner’s rash treatment is fairly easy to complete at home, an even better step to take is to apply different strategies to prevent the rash from occurring to begin with. There are a few ways to help prevent a rash after running altogether – or at least minimize your chances of suffering from it.

Try incorporating some or all of the measures into your regular routine to prevent runner’s rash from occurring during training.

Apply body glide

Body glide, or any off brand, can be incredibly helpful for preventing runner’s rash. This glide can be applied directly to the skin, and helps lubricate particularly vulnerable areas so friction doesn’t occur. Another tried and true option to use in a pinch is to apply deodorant instead of body glide.

Stay hydrated

Staying on top or your hydration is a surprising way to help prevent a rash after running. Hydration effects the whole body, including the skin. Skin that is well hydrated is often smoother and less likely to rub or get sticky when running.

Adjust your post-run routine

Preventing runner’s rash is often as simple as adjusting your post-run routine to include regular measures that support your skin. Regularly washing, cleaning and lotioning up after a run will help your skin stay strong and healthy.

Wear proper fitting clothing

One of the biggest causes of a rash after running is clothing that doesn’t fit properly. Clothes that are loose, contain tags or aren’t breathable can be triggers for chafing and rashes. Even in hot weather, you’ll want to be sure that your clothing fits snugly and properly in areas that are vulnerable to continuous movement.

Strategically place running gear

Runners often overlook the potential for runner gear to lead to a rash just as much as clothing. Handheld water bottles, water belts, arm bands, braces, headbands and more can all set the stage for friction and rubbing against the skin. If possible, try to place gear in areas that don’t have direct contact with the skin, and remove all extra tags.

Remove clothing tags

Tags on clothes and gear can be another irritant that will likely lead to a rash after running. Simply removing all tags from new gear will help prevent this from occurring. Check your clothes and gear for sizing tags or descriptive tags that might become irritating on a run.

Try lotion or powder

Preventing runner’s rash doesn’t have to involve any expensive purchases or running-specific items. Using regular lotions and powders can do just as much as some of the fancier glides and gear. Lotioning up before a run will prevent friction from occur, and powder can do wonders to keep the skin dry when it’s humid.

Runner’s rash is certainly irritating, and often very frustrating — but once you find a strategy that works for your body, it is likely that you’ll be able to prevent most recurrences.

These simple tips will help you treat and prevent a rash after running to keep your recovery as smooth and painless as possible.

More tips for a rash after running: