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Pregnancy Chafing Is The Literal Worst, But There Are 6 Things You Can Do To Help

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Oh the indignities of making a completely new human within your own body. They never end. After you've puked your guts out, farted in a room full of nosy strangers, and sweat so profusely that it puddled, you thought it couldn't get any worse, could it? Au contraire — I assure you it can. In the final stages of my pregnancy, when I was positively blossoming with child, those areas most in bloom liked to rub up against each other like people on an overly crowded Manhattan subway. Fortunately, I found some pregnancy chafing relief that made life just a bit more bearable.

Chafing happens when moist heat is trapped between two or more surfaces on the body, decreasing the ability for the skin to glide easily over one another. The added friction, plus the heat and moisture, irritates and scrapes the skin, noted Healthline. With chafing, the old adage of "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" holds true, but even the best plans can be derailed in the face of cloying summer heat and body parts that you've never known could even rub together, let alone chafe. For those instances, you're going to be on the defense, working to soothe and heal the angry areas.


Assess Where You're Chafing The Worst

First things first: where are you chafing the worst? Is it under your boobs, between your belly and your bikini line? Between your thighs? It's important to get an accurate assessment of your problem areas, because different regions of chafing require different therapies and methods of prevention. Your chafing might improve greatly with something as simple as an alteration in your wardrobe, or which panties you choose in the morning.


Body Powder Can Be Your BFF

Body powder is my boobs' BFF. Let me tell you, my ladies up top go from zero to hero the moment hCG hits my system. It's as though the hormones send an immediate signal to my body saying, "OK, girls, time to wake up." I'm a distance runner, so the chafing under and between my breasts gets extreme and annoying. However, according to Health, body powder not only prevents chafing by absorbing moisture and allowing for slippage, it can also heal and soothe the damaged skin. My favorite brand will always be Gold Bond Ultimate Body Powder, pictured above.

One caveat: It's important to note the distinction between talc-based baby powder and the many talc-free varieties of baby and body powders available now. Formulations containing talc have been linked to cancer; in 2017, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $417 million to a woman who reportedly contracted ovarian cancer after years of using Johnson & Johnson baby powder. That's why baby powder containing talc should especially be avoided in the crotch area. As Robyn Andersen, Ph.D., an ovarian cancer researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, told Health, "because the powder is made up of such finely-ground particles, it might be able to travel up the mucus membranes in the vaginal canal and eventually work its way into the ovaries. Once there, the powder might cause inflammation and eventually cancer."


Change Up Your Underwear

One of the worst places I chafed was the space where my thighs started touching. Breathable boxer brief style underpants saved my bacon. The leg continued longer than the point where my thighs rubbed together, and also curled under my belly. Now I just wear full Spanx all the time.

You can also employ the use of bandelettes, which are essentially bands that hug your thighs where they rub and prevent the chafing without needing to wear such extreme underwear.


Anti-Chafing Gels & Sticks

I can't sing the praises of anti-chafing gels and sticks and powder gels loudly enough. They're miracle workers. If you know you're going to be in a sweaty situation, apply these before you go out to the areas likely to chafe. It will allow your body to slide back and forth with ease and comfort. Megababe Thigh Rescue Anti-Friction Stick, pictured above, is a cult fave that sells out on the regular and won't let you down.

True confession and also TMI? When I was pregnant, I had a vulvar varicosity that made my labia swell. I got chafing between my labia majora and my inner thigh. Holy ouch, Batman. Monistat Anti-Chafing Gel ($6, Target), was the only thing that could prevent it. It didn't sting or irritate the area, and it was truly a godsend.


Stay Cool, Get Cool

If your skin is prone to irritation or already irritated, get cool. As Healthline reported, this is the best treatment and prevention for chafing. Cool room, cold compresses, and no risk of sweat. I know I can't be the only woman who sat mostly naked in front of the air conditioner while pregnant, and I won't be the last.


Creams & Lotions Galore

The best remedy for chafing is keeping it cool and dry, and prevent it from becoming irritated again. To soothe the burn, you will want to apply a cream like A&D ointment or Desitin baby rash cream after you shower and clean the area thoroughly, noted Runners World.

Chafing is the pits, but thankfully, it's mostly preventable.

This post was originally published on 6/27/2018. It was updated on 8/13/2019.