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Article: Understanding Chafing Symptoms & Related Issues

Understanding Chafing Symptoms & Related Issues

Understanding Chafing Symptoms & Related Issues

Chafing is a super common rash. As such, it can often be confused with several other common skin conditions. Some of these skin conditions can even become exacerbated with the addition of skin chafing. So, it’s important not to mistake serious skin conditions with chafing symptoms! Chafing is nothing more than an irritation of the skin caused by friction. And friction is usually the result of repetitive skin to skin contact. Chafing is most common in the inner thighs and buttocks, under armpits and round nipples... basically anywhere you have skin on skin contact or even skin on clothing contact in sensitive areas. This problem isn't exclusively for women either, men and women of all shapes and sizes will likely experience chafing at some point in their lives. There are many conditions that may present with chafing-like symptoms. But, some of these conditions will require more urgent and specialized medical attention. In this post, we'll look at chafing, as well as conditions that have similar symptoms.

Chafing or Friction Burn?

Friction burn is a severe form of skin chafing. A friction burn is a serious form of abrasion caused by the friction of skin rubbing against a surface. While all chafing is uncomfortable, a friction burn poses a more serious threat. A friction burn is sometimes referred to as skinning, e.g. “I’ve skinned my knee". Friction burn may also be named for the surface that caused the burn. This could be terms such as rug burn, rope burn, carpet burn, etc. Friction between the skin and another surface causes friction burn. However, skin on skin friction usually causes chafing. Because friction burns are more serious than chafing, they may need medical attention. You should carefully clean any friction burn to remove dirt and debris to prevent infections.

Chafing, Eczema, Or Both?

Eczema on the inner thighs is easily confused with chafing. Both women and men are susceptible to inner thigh rashes. Eczema, or Atopic Dermatitis, causes red, itchy, and dry skin. These are similar symptoms to chafing. However, you can identify eczema because it may begin in the creases of the elbows or knees. These are areas that are not usually subject to chafing. It's also very common for Eczema to start during childhood.

Chafing & Stretch Marks

Stretch marks occur when your skin is stretched beyond its limit in situations such as puberty, rapid growth, or pregnancy. It’s a very common skin condition in both men and women which leaves colored streaks on the skin. Stretch marks frequently develop on your inner thighs. And while stretch marks don’t usually cause pain in the long term, they can be especially sensitive if you experience chafing in the same area. Woman of different shapes standing in row

Chafing & Skin Discoloration

Many people will experience dark inner thighs as a side effect of chafing. This skin discoloration can happen to anyone, regardless of skin tone. There are various potential causes of skin discoloration like this. Chafing is one such cause. Inner thigh chafing can occur during exercise or walking, causing the skin to become thin, itchy, and discolored. Preventing chafing altogether is your best option to prevent dark skin on the inner thighs.

Chafing or Heat Rash?

A red rash could be chafing, or it could be a heat rash. Both heat rashes and chafing present as a red inflamed rash, and both are more common in hot humid weather. Heat rash occurs when the skin's sweat glands are blocked. This prevents sweat from getting to the surface of the skin to evaporate. Excessive sweating is the main cause of heat rash. Blocked sweat ducts trap perspiration under your skin and clothing, resulting in the rash. Heat rash will often present with lumps or blisters and can appear anywhere on the body. Chafing is usually concentrated in areas where skin rubs, such as the inner thighs. But, because heat and humidity are the cause of both heat rash and chafing, it’s possible to experience both at the same time. Summer can be a living nightmare if you suffer from heat rashes. Luckily, symptoms usually resolve once the skin cools down. It’s best to avoid heat and humidity if you suffer from heat rashes.

Thigh Pimples: Chafing or Acne?

Men and women can both experience thigh pimples or raised bumps on their inner thighs. This is usually a type of body acne called acne mechanica. No one is immune to this type of body acne. However, it's especially common in athletes. That's because it's triggered by excess heat, pressure, friction, or rubbing of the skin. The skin may just feel rough or bumpy, even if you can't see actual pimples. However, these thigh pimples can be made worse by continued friction. Sweat and friction are the causes of both chafing and sweat pimples. It’s no surprise then that chafing and thigh pimples often go hand-in-hand. skin rash

Chafing Rash or Herpes?

It’s possible for you to confuse herpes with chafing, although they look quite different. Herpes is a type of sexually transmitted infection (STI) that presents with fever blisters around the mouth or genitals. While it is possible to get chafing around the groin it will not usually have the same blisters as herpes will. Herpes is passed from one person to another. So, it’s very important to seek medical treatment if you suspect you may have herpes. You can learn more about identifying herpes at

Chafing & Razor Burn

Razor burn is a common complaint that most of us have suffered from at some point. Unsurprisingly, shaving causes razor burn. It is especially common if you use unclean, rusty, or dull razor blades, or if you have poor shaving techniques such as dry shaving or shaving in a rush. Razor burn combined with chafing can be very painful. You may wish to avoid shaving an area with chafing until it has healed. For more tips on caring for chafed skin check out our guide on How To Treat Chafed Thighs. Bandelettes thigh bands free men and women from the pain of skin chafing. To learn more about the causes and prevention of skin chafing, read our guide: Everything You Need To Know About Chafing. woman with chafed thighs
  •  'What Is Acne Mechanica?'
  • Medical Author: Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM 'Heat Rash (Symptoms, Pictures, Treatment, Remedies)'
  • Chris Iliades, MD How Do I Know if I Have Herpes or Something Else?'
  • Medically reviewed by Stacy Sampson, DO  Written by Kitty Jay 'What Causes Dark Inner Thighs and How Can You Treat and Prevent This Symptom?'
  • Medically reviewed by Justin Choi, M.D. Written by James McIntosh  'What's to know about eczema?'