Jogger's nipple, as we all know, is that uncomfortable chafing that happens when your nipple meets your t-shirt during a run. The longer you run for, the worse the chafing gets. Because the nipples are an incredibly sensitive part of the body, it's a skin condition that can become really painful and can even prevent you from running in the days after. All in all, it isn't pleasant, so understanding why it occurs, how to avoid it, and ways to treat it is helpful.
Why does jogger's nipple happen?
When friction occurs between the nipple and a layer of clothing, a runner is at risk of chafing. If this friction continues for long enough, it turns into irritation, and ultimately nipple chafing.
It's an uncomfortable and often painful occurrence that leads to symptoms such as redness, soreness, dryness, and even cracked or bleeding skin.
The friction is usually caused by certain types of materials and the way they fit around the body. Looser material that is less compressed to the body is more likely to irritate a runner's skin. As a result, women are less likely to experience nipple chafing due to the protection a sports bra offers.
How do you heal chafed nipples from running?
The irritating thing about nipple chafing, apart from the uncomfortable sensation itself, is that the problem often creeps up on you before you realise. It could be the end of your exercise or even the next day before the skin starts showing the painful symptoms of chafe. Many people notice it when they get in the shower, as the hot water stings the skin.
At this point, prevention isn't helpful and instead, you'll be looking for a treatment to ease the discomfort and get you back on the roads running as soon as possible.
Like any running injury, the best thing to do to treat nipple chafe is to stop running for a little while until they are healed. This way, you won't exacerbate the issue and make it worse.
In the meantime, applying antiseptic cream can help to both moisturise and clean the area, speeding up the healing process and ensuring it doesn't get infected.
If you're not too sensitive, applying an ice pack can also help soothe the skin.
Top tips to prevent jogger's nipple:
Once you've experienced jogger's nipple, you'll always be on the lookout to stop it happening again. Luckily there are some simple and easy tips to avoid this uncomfortable problem in the future.
Even at the early signs of irritation, some of these tips can help stop runner's nipple in its tracks and prevent it from getting any worse.
Tip 1: Use tape to protect the nipples
Before putting on your shirt, apply some surgical tape to your nipples. Make sure it's secure and fits tightly but won't cause any damage when you take it off.
By doing this, you create a barrier between your nipple and the shirt that causes you irritation. The type of tape you use should be clean and fit-for-purpose. Because it's such a common problem, you can now purchase nipple tape or nip guards designed exactly for this issue.
Tip 2: Invest in quality running clothing
The best thing to do to avoid runner's nipple symptoms is to remove the cause of it. Loose-fitting tops made from low-quality material are often the culprit. For this reason (among many other reasons) runners should invest in high-quality clothing to support them throughout their activity. Sports bras, tighter-fitting tops, or a compression vest are all options people choose to take care of their nipples.
The Presca Forever Running Tee is another great choice. It's made from tight-knit fabric, is breathable, and wicking, providing every level of runner with the comfort they need to go further. The fabric is lightweight and very soft to the touch making it kind on the skin. As well as being designed for performance, it also has sustainability at the heart of it. All Presca products are made from recycled material and the Forever Running tee is also fully recyclable. That means our eco-conscious customers can stay active in sportswear that has a positive impact on the planet.
Tip 3: Use some form of lubricant
An alternative to attaching plasters or adhesive tape to the nipples is to apply lubricant to them before running and remove the risk of friction underneath your top or bra. Petroleum jelly or dedicated anti-chafing balm works well to keep irritation at bay.
Just be mindful of the length of your run. After a while, the lubricant might wear off, and you will again be at risk of this uncomfortable condition. It can be helpful to take some with you to tend to chafing or irritation in other places of the body. There's a reason why you see people handing out vaseline during and after a marathon!
Tip 4: Use some talcum powder
In the opposite fashion to lubricating your nipples, drying them out slightly also helps stop clothing from catching on the nipple.
Talcum powder is an easy way to do that, and a thin layer of the nice smelling stuff can help reduce your risk of nipple chafing.
Again, you'll need to be mindful of how long you run for because talcum powder can come off relatively quickly and you'll end up in the same place you started.
Whatever route you go down, the good news is there are a few solutions for the treatment and prevention of chafing.
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Blog curated by Guy Whitby (MSC) and Ironman Athlete
Guy Whitby is a medal-winning athlete and five-time Iron Man finisher. He is Presca's Operations Director and Co Founder, and has drawn on Presca's wide network of professional athletes and sports expertise to collate this blog.