How to Stop a Surf Rash From Happening?
There are many more things to worry about in surfing then just how to stop a surf rash. Surfing is a low impact sport and is relatively safe for people of all ages to enjoy. However, there are instances where accidents do happen and sometimes encounters with the marine wildlife do not end up well for the most intelligent animal species on the planet. Nevertheless, the unfortunate shark attack or occasional sting suffered by surfers, most people ride the waves without incident. However, the most common problem all surfers complain about is the surf rash. Knowing how to stop a surf rash from happening will keep you in the water longer.
Surf rash is not a life-threatening issue; its caused mainly by prolonged contact of the skin against skin or other materials such as the surfboard, surf wax, and others. While it’s not a big problem, surf rash can cause some discomfort and prevent you from enjoying time in the water. So, how can you prevent surf rash from spoiling your wave riding experience? First, let’s take a look at what causes surf rash.
What Causes Surf Rash?
Surf rash is an abrasion of the skin caused by repeated friction of the skin that leads to irritation. The friction which results in a surf rash can be due to skin rubbing against the skin for prolonged periods, prolonged rubbing of the skin against the surfboard, skin rubbing against surf wax, wetsuits, board shorts, and often occurs after a prolonged period.
Surf rashes are an inevitable part of the aquatic sport because its caused by the nature of the sport. A surfer can get a rash by merely changing their surfing outfit. If you are used to wearing wetsuits due to the coldness of the water in your surfing turf, you might get a rash when you surf without your wetsuit in the warmer waters of a tropical island.
You also have to remember that salt water has a natural tendency to cause skin irritation, especially while wearing board shorts which exposes the skin to friction. Additionally, exposure to the sun after getting skin rash can also make the problem worse. In some people, the skin rash can become inflamed and cause more than just a slight discomfort. There have been rare cases where surf rashes become infected, but these are not very common, and the skin will usually return to its original state after taking some time off from surfing.
Where Can A Surf Rash Occur On A Surfer’s Body?
Surf rash can be found in almost every part of the surfer’s body exposed to prolonged and repeated friction against other irritating parts. However, the rash is commonly found in the armpit area, chest, nipples, neck, rib cage, inner thighs, the stomach, and knees. Any part of the body that is repeatedly used during the actual act of surfing can experience surf rash. Meanwhile, surfing is a full body sport that tasks your hands, core, legs, neck, and even your power of coordination to their limits.
One reason for surf rash is that our skin is highly sensitive to friction, but the body is also extremely adaptive to change. If you are a person who surfs several times a week, your body will become resistant to surf rashes in all the body parts that are repeatedly rubbed against other surfaces. For people who only engage in surfing once in a while, their skin does not have enough time to harden and become resistant to surf rashes. It’s for this reason that surfers who engage in the sport frequently have lower incidents of skin rash compared to weekend warriors.
So, what’s the best defense against surf rash as an occasional or professional surfer? How do you prevent your sensitive skin from surf rashes every time you ride the waves?
How To Prevent Surf Rashes With Rash Guards?
Prevention is better than cure. The best way on, how to stop a surf rash is to prevent it from happening in the first place. By wearing protective gear, you create a barrier between your skin and the abrasive surfaces that cause friction and irritation, which leads to surf rashes.
With less surf rash, you have more time to spend on the water catching more waves, enjoying the great sport of surfing without worrying about a tingling/ burning sensation in your chest, knees, or any other area. Whether you are a die-hard surfer or the enthusiastic weekend surfer, everybody who loves riding the waves should have rash guards in their surfing kit.
Not only will this protective gear help safeguard your sensitive skin against the elements, but it will also greatly enhance your surfing experience and help you perfect your game in the water. Rash guards should be worn especially when you are surfing in tropical waters to prevent rashes on your stomach, chest, and nipple area. The best part is that most rash guards don’t weigh you down as they are made of light fabric such as nylon, spandex or Lycra. If you have sensitive skin, especially for ladies, you can also wear rash guard pants to protect your knees from rashes.
How To Stop A Rash Wearing Wetsuits?
Wetsuits can also provide increased protection against surf rashes, especially if you are surfing in a temperate environment where the water temperature is lower. If you don’t surf often and your skin is extremely sensitive to abrasion and irritation, you can always wear full wetsuits to protect your chest and stomach areas from rashes as the wetsuit material is softer and less abrasive on the skin.
However, be sure to wear wetsuits that are not too tight as tight-fitting wetsuits can also cause abrasion and irritation around the neck and armpit region. For maximum protection, consider wearing rash guards under your wetsuit. Not only does this offer double protection, but it also makes it easier to put the wetsuit on and get out of your it as well as provide increased warmth.
Apply Topical Lubricants and Balms
There are several topical creams which many surfers have sworn by as their go-to remedy against surf rashes. Some people claim that Vaseline can help reduce friction and abrasion. But tests have shown that you need a generous amount of Vaseline to prevent surf rash. However, this also leads to unintended consequences. For example, if you apply too much Vaseline to your chest or hand region, the greasy nature of the cream causes slippage, and you will find it hard to balance your body on the board, and your grip will also become slippery, preventing you from paddling at full capacity or popping up with ease.
When you are shopping for a topical cream to prevent a surf rash, look for a product that offers a moisturizing effect. The ideal product will be readily absorbed by the skin to create a protective barrier which reduces abrasion and friction and also protects your skin against irritation. For this type of product to work, you must remember to apply it before getting into the water.
In addition to reducing friction and irritation, some topical creams can also help reduce inflammation, microbial infection, redness and pain. But always check that the product is compatible with your skin type before buying.
These topical creams can also be applied to surf rashes to hasten the healing process. Products like Naked Surf have been reported to work like magic.
Avoid Dragging Your Body on the Surfboard
One natural way to preemptively prevent surf rashes is to reduce moving your body across the surfboard to the barest minimum. The main reason why many beginners have knee rashes is due to constantly dragging their body across the surfboard, creating friction and irritating the skin around the knees.
How To Stop A Surf Rash With Wet Board Shorts?
Boardshorts are the norm for surfers in tropical regions because the water temperature is warm enough where no wetsuits are needed. However, walking long distances in wet board shorts can be abrasive. The wet shorts are soaked with salt water which is harsh, abrasive and sometimes you might have sediment from the beach on the shorts rubbing against your inner thigh as well. If you must walk great distances, it’s advisable to change into dry shorts to avoid a surf rash.
Surf rash is a natural part of the surfing experience. You can’t eliminate it, but you can reduce its occurrence. However, you need to understand that you don’t have to surf to get rashes as the chemical composition of the seawater encourages rashes.
The skin rubbing against other surfaces like other body parts, surfboard surface, surf wax, wetsuit and others is not the only reason for surf rash. When you are in the sea, the salt water softens and weakens the skin surface, and the sea salt also has an abrasive and exfoliating effect on the skin. This chemical reaction, combined with the repeated friction and abrasion against harder surfaces breaks down the skin, causing rash, inflammation, redness, pain, and sometimes wounds. What this means is that you can get rashes even by swimming in the ocean, and the likelihood only increases with the rigors of surfing.
The good news, however, is that you can prevent rash by investing in high-quality rash guards, wetsuits, and topical creams. But if you want to avoid it completely, then you will have no other option except to stop surfing until you are healed, and get right back out to the line up!