6 Common Skin Irritations And How To Avoic Them


Ah, the joys of long distance running. There is nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment and pride that one experiences at the finish line of a marathon, only to look around at fellow runners with bloody t-shirts, raw skin, sunburn and blistered feet. But you don’t have to accept these bodily “badges of honor” as normal. When outfitted in the proper gear, fabrics, and footwear, aside from a little sweat and redness, you’ll look just the same as you did before the race began! Below are a few tips to prevent the runner’s rashes that too often come with high mileage. The only badges of honor you’ll need to focus on are the medal and your photo at the finish line.

1. Sunburn

It happens! Read our Sun Safety for Runners article.

2. Friction & Chafing

The problem:

Seen in areas where skin rubs on skin such as the inner thigh and underarms. This can also be caused by your fanny pack, hydration belt, sports bra, or any new clothing rubbing as you run.

The solution:

Only wear technical fabric designed to manage moisture when you run. That means no cotton. Lubricate before you run with Body Glide, Run Guard or 2Toms BlisterShield. Reminder—NO NEW CLOTHES OR GEAR ON RACE DAY!!!!

3. Bloody Nipples

The problem:

Primarily seen in men and caused by friction of the t-shirt rubbing against the nipples, creating raw skin. Not a pretty site for those post-marathon photos!

The solution:

Since bloody nipples are really just a result of localized friction and chafing, the treatment for them is almost identical. There is a product called Nip-Guards that can help tremendously in preventing a bloody t-shirt.

4. Blisters

The problem:

Also caused by friction, usually from shoes, sweaty feet, or cotton socks.

The solution:

Try lubricating your toes with Run Guard or BodyGlide, then use socks made with technical fabric designed to reduce moisture and prevent blistering. You should get your race day shoes 2-4 weeks BEFORE the marathon and make sure you do your last few long runs in them. If you do get a blister close to race day, drain it by running a pin or needle through alcohol or a flame then poke the blister. Let the fluid drain. Do NOT remove the skin. Get a blister block bandage from the drugstore and you should be ok.

5. Athlete's Foot

The problem:

This is a superficial fungal infection that thrives in moist, dark environments (your sweaty feet covered by socks and shoes). Athlete’s Foot typically manifests as an itchy, irritated, flaky rash on the sides of your feet and in-between the toes.

The solution:

Wear socks made of technical fabrics suitable for managing moisture (not cotton). This will help reduce the amount of sweat on your feet, and should prevent a repeat occurrence. Over-the-counter Lamisil cream works in most cases but some need prescription treatment. If persistent, see your dermatologist.

6. Purple Toenail

The Problem:

Also known as a subungual hematoma, this is basically a bruise under your toenail caused by friction and trauma to your toe, a result of ill-fitting shoes.

The Solution:

Prevent by making sure your shoes fit properly—should have ½ shoe sizem width space from toe tip to shoe tip. You might also look for a more square toe box in the shoe so that the shoe is actually deep enough to accommodate your toes. Lubricate prior to running and wear socks made of technical fabric that manage moisture. If you do get one, you will likely lose your toenail, which will regenerate and grow back, likely over the course of several months. Best to see a podiatrist or dermatologist.

As with any medical condition, you should always consult your physician.

Run Happy, Run Safe and WEAR THE RIGHT STUFF! 

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