Chub rub, chafe, friction rub, monkey butt, crotch rot, heat rash – whatever you call this unfortunate phenomenon, you know what I’m talking about and for hikers it’s a total pain in the… ahem… nether regions!
It may be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but it is vital to have a plan to deal with it because chafing of the thighs and groin is a near-universal problem for hikers. From my Scout hiking days, I can tell you that this will affect most hikers eventually, and it will probably affect at least one hiker on any given outing. Friction rub or heat rash is far more likely to occur with more novice hikers and more overweight hikers.
Here are a few hints to lessen the chances of your being that hiker that gets the monkey butt, or if you do, these might lessen the impact.
- Proper underwear – Long-leg boxer briefs or compression shorts – not boxers or tightey whiteys. Synthetic instead of natural fibers – not cotton. Skintight so that creases and folds don’t start to chafe (you can even get seamless boxer briefs so that the seams do not chafe.) Some folks like to wear 1 size smaller to ensure skintightness and good compression.
- Stay as clean as possible – Not always easy on the trail, but you really should do everything you can to keep the affected area clean and remove acidic sweat from the region. A shower would be best, but baby wipes can help if a shower is not available.
- Powder – We affectionally call this, “Nut dust,” and it is indispensable. You’ll want talc or Zinc based – NOT cornstarch-based because you do not want to feed carbohydrates to any of the growies that live down there. You might even want “medicated” body powders that contain a touch of menthol as an anti-itch agent, but for goodness sake, do not attempt to use “medicated foot powders” on your nether regions! The skin on your feet is much thicker and less sensitive than that of other parts of your body, so foot powder has about 10 times more menthol and they add in some peppermint oil for good measure. If you put medicated foot powder on any other part of your body, especially sensitive, moist, already irritated parts, you are going to think you’ve fallen into a vat of napalm and you’ll wish for death before the burning stops!
- Grease – Some professional cyclists use Vaseline liberally inside of their compression shorts. Some hikers swear by Friction Stick. I’ve even read that some hikers will use stick antiperspirant as if it were friction stick. I have not tried any of these.
- Diaper rash ointment – If you have already gotten a hot spot from chub rub, any brand will do, but down here a lot of hikers like Boudreaux’ Butt Paste.