Nipple Chafing: Why It Happens, How to Prevent It, & How to Treat It
If you’re a runner or athlete, you might be familiar with the pain and discomfort of jogger’s nipple, or nipple chafing. Burning, chapped, and sensitive skin are all symptoms of chafed nipples and can be a problem that persists over time. We know this can affect not only your exercise routine, but your everyday life. Luckily, nipple chafing can be treated and prevented so you can exercise regularly and comfortably.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about nipple chafing, how to prevent it, treat it, and how to look and feel great in everything you wear.
Why are my nipples sore after working out?
You may have experienced chafing on the inner thighs or armpits when exercising. Though these areas are most common, chafing can also occur on the nipples. Athletic or everyday activities such as long distance running, cycling, surfing, walking, and gardening can cause sore nipples. This sore feeling is a symptom of nipple chafing.
What causes sore nipples?
- Just like thigh and armpit chafing, nipple chafing occurs when your nipples rub against the fabric of your shirt while you run, walk, or are engaged in a physical activity.
- Sweat softens the skin, exacerbating friction against your clothes. Also, the salt in your sweat can harden and become rough causing irritation, inflammation, and soreness on and around your nipples.
3. Clothing Made from Non-Synthetic Materials
- Roughly textured fabric such as cotton makes it harder for the moisture in your sweat to evaporate. Synthetic fabrics like rayon or spandex, however, evaporate sweat more quickly, keeping your skin dry and less likely to chafe.
Why are my nipples chapped, cracked, or bleeding?
Chapped, cracked or bleeding nipples are symptoms of chafing. Other symptoms can include a burning sensation, soreness or discomfort, or scabbing.
What protects sore nipples from friction?
You can protect sore, chafed, or sensitive nipples with lubricant. Treat them before you run, surf, or engage in athletic activity or during if you notice symptoms flaring. If you don’t have a bottle of lubricant and the situation permits, remove your shirt to stop further friction and discomfort.
If you cannot find a lubricant that works for you, a pair of nipple covers or nipple guards can also be worn under your shirt to keep them protected from sweat and rough fabrics. Though nipple covers are usually thought of as a product for women, men are using them both for fashion and function! We recommend using Nippies Skin nipple pasties to keep chapped, chafed nipples protected from further irritation. The adhesive version is extra secure, and sits comfortably on the skin. They’re reusable and can be washed with gentle soap and water to keep the adhesive clean and ready for use. Made with skin-safe, medical-grade silicone, they are also great for sensitive skin.
What can I do for chapped or chafed nipples?
There are a few things you can do to treat chafed nipples:
1. Wash Them
- Once you’ve finished your exercise, wash your nipples with gentle or antibacterial soap and water. Opt for chemical or fragrance-free products to prevent further irritation.
2. Apply a Cream or Ointment
- After washing your nipples, gently pat them dry. Once all moisture is removed, apply a hydrocortisone cream or ointment to soothe, protect and hydrate the skin.
3. Take a Break from Your Workout Routine
- Give your nipples time to heal by forgoing your fitness regimen for a while. On your break, continue to wash and apply your preferred cream or ointment.
4. See Your Doctor
- If the steps above don’t provide relief or if the problem persists, we recommend seeing your doctor. Also, if your nipples are swollen, crusted, bleeding, oozing, or infected, you may need a prescription-strength antibiotic ointment. A professional can assist with this.
How do I prevent my nipples from chafing?
Though chafing is often associated with hot weather and sweat, it can happen anytime. Here are some ways to prevent nipple chafing year-round:
1. Wear Moisture-Wicking Clothing
- Wearing the proper clothing is one of the best ways to prevent nipple chafing. Avoid exercising in cotton shirts. Sweating through them makes their rough fabric even more abrasive, causing the pain and soreness associated with nipple chafing. Moisture-wicking shirts made from synthetic fabric are your best bet for keeping comfortable and dry while working out. However, some cheaper synthetic fabrics can also cause chafing. Buying quality workout clothing with moisture-wicking, breathable material is definitely recommended.
2. Use Lubricant
- If your skin has the tendency to chafe, use lubricant before your run. We also suggest taking it along with you to reapply if needed!
3. Stay Dry
- The weather can be unpredictable. If you get caught in rain (or even if you’re sweating a lot), change your clothes as soon as you can. Clingy, wet fabric increases the chances of chafing.
4. Stay Hydrated
- Drinking water is great for your body, but did you know that it can also prevent nipple chafing? Staying hydrated allows you to sweat freely, lessening the chances of it hardening into salt crystals. These crystals can lead to chafing—and that’s the last thing either of us want.
How do I stop my nipples from showing through my shirt?
One way to stop your nipples from showing through your shirt is to wear an undershirt. Creating an extra layer between your skin and shirt keeps them covered and hidden. However, in hot weather, extra layers can be a nuisance, causing sweat, chafing, and discomfort.
We recommend using a pair of Nippies Skin nipple covers to protect your nipples from friction and sweat. They have a smooth, matte texture that blends in with your skin for an invisible look and feel and are comfortable enough for all-day wear. Three colors match multiple skin tones (but go lighter if you’re in-between shades) and two sizes fit small and large nipples. Nipple pasties are no longer exclusive to women. Consider yourself a member of the Nipple Covers Club and go about your day with confidence!
Nipple chafing can be a painful experience, but you can treat the issue to obtain relief. Washing, hydrocortisone cream, reusable pasties, and moisture-wicking clothing are all ways to treat and prevent nipple chafing, making it easier to exercise and take on whatever comes your way. Here’s to pain-free days, increased confidence, and looking and feeling great in your own skin. We’re rooting for you!
Contributing Writer: Hillary Cormier