Sign up ×
The Great Outdoors Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who love outdoor activities, excursions, and outdoorsmanship. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This, I believe, most of outdoor people once in a while do have to deal with: Rashes between thighs, around the groin. This may really screw the entire trip and make it annoyingly miserable to walk any further.

The best that I thought I can do to avoid them is, applying coconut oil before starting. But when I trek through waterfalls or cross streams, this habit doesn't work. And, after that when I sustain such rashes, there is hardly anything that I can do.

Still, what can be done? What should be done to avoid them? And, what I can do to suffer less anyway if I sustain that thing?

share|improve this question

9 Answers 9

up vote 22 down vote accepted

I found the best answer is tight underwear made from a slippery fabric with legs that extend just far enough down to cover where things rub in the crotch area.

I currently have a pair of Underarmor brand that work very well. They are made of a stretchy but slick synthetic fabric. The garment stays in place on the skin. That means the skin doesn't get rubbed and the garment takes the abrasion instead.

The only downside I've noticed is that since these things are kind of slippery, I have to make sure I tighten the belt of the outer pants properly else they tend to fall down more than with regular cotton underwear. That only applies to long pants, like jeans. Shorts are apparently light enough so that this doesn't matter.

You might think that this kind of underwear would be hotter, but that turns out not to be the case. I guess because it's always right up against the skin it doesn't trap any air, and the fabric itself is so thin as to not have appreciable thermal resistance.

share|improve this answer
@Lathrop This is the exact solution I use. Loose boxers are the enemy on a long, hard backpacking trick or serious run. – theJollySin Aug 8 '13 at 16:32
I second this in major way. Synthetic or merino boxer briefs are the single most effective way to fight chaffing rashes from long-term hiking and running. This is not only because they provide a layer of tightly fitting fabric to take the friction, but largely because they help keep you dry. Moisture is not your friend here. It increases friction and can lead to fungal infections. – manoftheson Mar 3 '14 at 3:28
I'd like to see a link that moisture increases friction. People say this, but in my experience, water increases friction. Think of slipping on a wet floor. My theory has been that it is soaked up by the skin, reducing its strength, and leading to abrasion. – bchilders Aug 17 at 22:40
@bchild: Lots of water can reduce friction. Sliding on a wet floor is a example. However, a little moistness increases friction of skin. Think about how often people will stick their fingers in their mouths briefly to be able to pick up a piece of paper more easily. – Olin Lathrop Aug 18 at 18:49
@Olin: I meant decreases, though I think my typo should be clear from context. Also, this source (admittedly not the best), states that licking your fingers reduces static charge, rather than increasing friction. – bchilders Aug 18 at 22:12

You can prevent this by getting some talcum powder (baby powder) and putting it where you usually get the rash. Depending on how much you're sweating, apply it every few hours.

Also wear tight and long underwear so you minimize the friction, it's certainly the cheapest solution.

Give it a try, I had some "horror" hikes because of that, it just messes up the whole trip.

share|improve this answer
Talcum Powder is a staple in my backpack for this very reason! – Affable Geek Aug 2 '13 at 14:26

You may be fighting an uphill battle, and may have a fungal infection.

That was the case for me, which made it very hard to keep from getting rashes when backpacking/camping, or really, going anywhere without being able to shower daily.

I went to the doctor and had them prescribe me an anti-fungal medicine, which was Tolnaftate, the active ingredient in tinactin, lamisil, etc, for athletes foot and jock itch.

After taking that for 10 days, it was like night and day, and I was virtually immune to it afterwards. I shortly thereafter went on a weeklong backpacking trip. Despite being relative filthy from not showering for 7 days, with only a single pair of polyester underwear, I was nonetheless free of any rashes. I did smell pretty awful though. :)

share|improve this answer
It depends what the OP means by "rash". Some people might describe chafing as a rash, but jock itch is something worse for sure! – hippietrail Aug 19 '13 at 3:19
@hippietrail: that is true, however the OP mentioning that his efforts were ruined by going through wet areas, leaving him moist and unable to dry. That is the breeding ground for fungal infections. – whatsisname Aug 19 '13 at 13:52
Echo the above. Unless you know that it is "just" a rash, consult a doctor. A Fungal infection can present as a rash, go away and then return when conditions are favourable for it, such as conditions you describe in your physical activity – user001 Aug 24 at 12:00

The main solution I've found to this is to wear looser clothing in the groin area. Boxers made of polyester or wool or something that breathes well. Shorts as well if at all possible, but if not, pants with mesh in them somewhere.

Beyond that, if you start getting a rash, dry out after you cross streams. Use a product like Bag Balm or similar, often comes in stick form (looks like a deoderant stick).

share|improve this answer
Drying out every now and then doesn't seem always possible. But, using a product like Bag Balm, I think is a good suggestion that I receive from you. Thanks! – WedaPashi Aug 2 '13 at 5:09

You may think this is insane, but wear women's nylons. Cowboys do this while riding horses in the spring, before their skin gets calloused.

share|improve this answer

One trick not yet mentioned, but surprisingly efficient:

When I start sweating in this area (and I'm out in the woods where I won't meet a lot of people) I usually just open the zipper on my pants.

This helps wonders to boost air circulation, thus preventing sweating. For me this also 100% prevents the hiking rashes. Sometimes I walk for an hour like that, it can be really comfy...

And using this trick I'm essentially able not go get rashes anymore.

share|improve this answer
Why the downvote? This trick is quite established, e.g. in the Swiss Army lots of soldiers do this on marches - and they should now, the army is marching a lot... – fgysin Aug 19 at 9:44

The goal is to not to get wet or stay wet so wear the lightest most breathable clothing possible. Even so, I put Goldbond in my shoes and in my crotch every morning when I'm on the trail.

If your skin gets wet after crossing a stream or freak rainstorm you may consider stopping and drying out the skin and putting on new dry clothes. Hiking miles/km with wet skin that is being rubbed constantly WILL make for an uncomfortable trip.

Hikers bring rain gear not because we are afraid of getting wet, but because we are afraid of the chafe and hypothermia.

share|improve this answer
I made an edit in the last line of the answer. At first, when I was going through what you are saying, made me read the line twice. I may be wrong, but with all due respect to yout thoughts, I thought of reframing it. – WedaPashi Aug 8 '13 at 12:45

I see a good handful of people suggesting what type of clothing should be worn to minimize chaffing, which are great but not always 100% effective.

To treat chaffing/rashes between thighs and groins (which I have bad issues with), I suggest bringing some sort of lubricant to apply to stressed areas as they appear. I use Petroleum Jelly and it works like a charm! Aching pain disappears instantly, and the slight oil feeling is somewhat annoying at its worst.

share|improve this answer

Others have good advice: none-cotton, tight underwear; balm or talcum powder; dry clothes.

However, I have one more option: when I'm on the move and start feeling chaffing in my bum, I'll do the moonwalk. The moonwalk is a technique for drying out one's nether regions while staying on the move (not this) This works best with the loose basketball shorts I usually wear, but can be done with other shorts or pants as well.

To do the moonwalk, stow away any trekking poles you have, drop your pants and underwear so that the waistband is below your butt cheeks (and crotch, if you're having problems there). Grab the crotch of your pants, and start hiking. Note that, for rashes between the legs or between the legs and groin, you will need to do a bit of a waddle.

Clothes - even light, breathable, wicking clothes - will trap moisture next to your skin. Under these conditions, the skin will absorb the excess moisture and weaken, making friction applied more damaging than usual. In order to solve this problem, we remove the moisture. This is why underwear made for hiking work at moving moisture away from the skin. This is also why talcum powder works, since it absorbs the moisture (which is why it feels cool when you apply it), moving it away from the skin's surface and allowing it to regain its strength.

The moonwalk works by removing the humid environment around the groin and providing air flow. Since the moisture is no longer trapped in a container of small volume around your groin, it will mix with the outside air to the point where the gradient of humidity around your groin approaches the step function. As the gradient becomes sharper, the rate of evaporation on your skin will increase, leading to drier skin and less chaffing.

The moonwalk has an advantage over other techniques in that it allows for the highest constant rate of evaporation, whereas breathable clothing will still limit this rate, and talcum powder will need to be periodically reapplied. Additionally, the moonwalk allows for convective heat loss as the atmosphere moves heat away from your body as it flows around you, and does not dampen radiative heat loss as other techniques do. This combination allows skin temperature to stay lower, which will elicit less of a response from the sweat glands, further reducing the moisture content of your skin.

Why not simply take your pants off, you may ask? Because, even on relatively lonely trails, there is a chance that other people will come upon you and, conforming to social standards, you will want them not to see your groin. The moonwalk allows you to quickly conceal your modesty when you see or hear others approach. Of course, an alternative may be to use a hiking skirt or kilt, but these will still trap some amount of moisture, and are not very popular - especially among male hikers.

I find I air out after about 10-15 minutes of moonwalking, and can pull my pants up after. Just make sure to watch out for strangers coming up the trail in front of or behind you!

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.