Best anti-chafing solution?



  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member

    @dc_in_sf - Make sure you test out the Bag Balm before you use it for Rottnest. I know swimmers who use it, however I had a bad experience with it during the Molokai Channel. Re-applying grease several times mid-swim = no more Bag Balm for me! Not sure if salinity/water temp in Hawaiian waters did something to the product, but it did not provide chafing protection very well. Just a thought...

    Thanks for the heads up. Not going to get a chance to road test bag balm so will use the home brew channel grease I made tomorrow, and put the bag balm on the boat as backup (I'm assuming I don't need more than the 13 ounces of channel grease I have) - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    There was a discussion on FB recently about channel grease, so I thought I'd bump this.

    Any new & creative mixtures out there?

    Some of the Dover folks were suggesting that petroleum jelly (vaseline) by itself is sufficient to protect from chaffing on a long swim. I personally have found the ad-mixture of a thicker substance such as lanolin helps maintain the chaffing resistance longer.
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    Sport Slick to the rescue. I'm not tech savvy, so Evan will have to add the picture of the tube. One of the benefits is that it's in a tube. Flip the top, stick it where you need it, and squeeze. It can be applied on the move by the swimmer.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited March 2014
    imageUierzalf (Udder ointment)

    Udder Ointment is a moisture-proof ointment with many applications. Udder ointment is a nourishing, soothing and antiseptic action. The ointment can be applied preventively., As weather protection and medicinally against rough skin, Besides the traditional ointment is a less greasy version, udder cream, which has a more cosmetic application.

    Udder Ointment was originally intended to keep udders and teats of dairy cows in good condition The ointment, however, is also widely used in the inconveniences of the human skin. Thus they used by cyclists to skin problems in places where clothing rubs strongly avoid. Along the skin In German / Swiss known as "Melkfett" and especially in Germany also known as anti-fouling agent in water sports for motorboats and yachts. In French "à graisse traire". - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandAdmin
    That's a great idea @Niek, never heard of that. Similar to the US Bag balm I suppose. If I didn't have a kilo jar of lanolin I'd try it (though I might do so anyway!).
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited March 2014
    Bogena is the most known and used by farmers.

    Some swimmers mix a bit extra lanolin into the Uierzalf - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • hmeermanhmeerman Encinitas, CAMember
    A&D original ointment, another combination of lanolin and petrolatum (vasoline), about $10/tub (1 lb).
    Also available with added zinc oxide, but I have never used this version.
  • Kevin_in_MDKevin_in_MD Senior Member
    bobswims said:

    @ loneswimmer [SARC INT] :particularly if that person told a story that Ederle squeezed out fat from baby dolphins to use as grease on her channel swim

    Total badass amIright? Catching dolphins while swimming and squeezing the fat out of them. That's like something Chuck Norris would do.
  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member
    Silicone grease - the kind of stuff we used to use to lubricate lab glassware.



    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • Has anybody tried using any kind of skin strengthening/thickening product?
    I'll explain my conundrum. I'm currently in a remote island in Indonesia with the intention of swimming round it. It has a coastline on 1200 km, and as I'm quite new to the long distance thing i didn't quite plan for the chafing properly having brought with me only a little tub or vaseline (and normal spf50 suncream). 1 month in and my skin is suffering considerably: face getting horribly sunburnt (i swam across the equator 2 days ago) and bad sores developing on my neck and under my armpits. It's incredibly frustrating and means that in over a month I've only been able to swim 13 days.
    I found this forum yesterday and immediately ordered various recommended sun and skin products (Solrx, lanolin, more vaseline, Desitin) that have to be shipped from the states for the less than ideal price of 150$ due to import fees etc. believe ot or not it's impossible even to find vaseline in this country. Frankly right now I don't mind paying for their weight in gold if they solve my no swimming problem.
    I was wondering if, as a more long term preventative measure, it would be possible to strengthen the skin itself. I've heard of weightlifters and climbers using Tuf-foot (paw thickening product for dogs) and rowers using surgical spirit to strengthen their hand pads.
    Has anybody tried anything similar? Any suggestions?
    My thanks in advance
    Tomba - a stranded swimmer in distress
  • @wherestomba, Four months of unsupported swimming is enormous! Dropping your website here. The member here with the closest experience to what you are doing is @Haydn though the suit is a factor we don't have to deal with.

    I'm of the opinion that nothing beats Channel grease for longevity (except pure lanolin which is far more difficult to remove). I mix about 50% lanolin & 50% vaseline but you can go up to 90% lanolin. I've heard scare stories from warm water swimmers against using lanolin (as it's basically an animal product) due to the possibility of attracting "fish" but I haven't heard any actual real evidence (and I'm in cold water). Still, is it something to try in waters with Tiger sharks?

    The only "skin strengthening" I've heard of is walking barefoot to toughen soles, or boxers soaking hands in petrol.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited September 2014
    @wherestomba, (contact) address for the Indonesian Swimming Federation
    Maybe they can help you further.
    Their swimmers have the same problems so they must have a solution. - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    I've had great luck with Sportslick ( and Body Glide ( They both hold up well in salt-water, especially the Sportslick.
  • @loneswimmer yeah, I jumped into the deep end with this adventure (no pun intended). Thanks for the website drop. I was planning on making some channel grease although I had the same thoughts about attracting sharks... Has anybody had any actual experience of this?
    I may try the skin strengthening stuff anyway as well as the lubricant - I will report back if i notice and positive or negative effects.

    @Nick that's a great idea. I will get on it.

    @swimmer25k thanks - they will be on my next international order for sure.
  • tortugatortuga Senior Member
    @wherestomba I assume you've already figured out that shaving your face/neck before a swim will reduce neck and chin to shoulder chaffing.
  • tortugatortuga Senior Member
    I have a question for you salties out there. I've been doing mostly fresh water swimming and bag balm has worked well for me.

    I did a short 2 miler ocean swim with beach start through the surf last weekend. Too short to need anti-chaff goo but it got me wondering.

    If I'm all gooed up with lanolin and vasoline on a beach/surf start, doesn't the sand get stuck in it and end up becoming sand paper? How do you prevent this or how do you deal with it?
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    @tortuga Only swim in the water not on the land. :)
    The few grains of sand on your feet will wash away. - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    I tend to get a shoulder strap burn pretty quickly in salt water. Body Glide has worked pretty well, when I remember to use it. Once I have an abrasion, I cake Neosporin on it to keep it from getting any worse. I'm sure something thicker than Body Glide would be necessary for longer swims, but I like being able to put it on without getting it on my hands.

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • JBirrrdJBirrrd MarylandSenior Member
    On Saturday, I found myself in an increasingly bothersome chafing situation. I had accidentally placed my usual lubricating mixture in the wrong bag and it was on the safety boat. I'm writing here to let everyone know that cherry chapstick makes for an effective substitute in a pinch.
  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    It's understandable that you might not be looking for anti-chafing solutions in the yeast infection section of your local drugstore. :-) But if you did, you'd find an anti-chafing gel by Monistat. (I'm lucky to have a pretty cool pharmacist that orders me lanolin and keeps an eye out for this sort of thing.)


    IMHO, it's not better than traditional grease, but if you're looking for something clean-feeling that will provide short-term protection, it just might do the trick!

    It's really neat to the touch. If you put it on your fingers, you'll observe that it feels dry... and yet, you can't snap your fingers.
  • suziedodssuziedods Charter Member
    Desitin.. it's lanolin and petrolatum. Cheap , easy to find and it's soothing. No mixing needed.

    Looking for the next big thing.. ... @suzieswimcoach

  • AquahoyaAquahoya Washington D.C.New Member

    I will be going on an hour or so swim in the ocean, will lanolin be sufficient for that time period to prevent chafing in the arms and inner thighs?

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandAdmin

    @Aquahoya, lanolin is overkill for an hour as it last a long time and is difficult to apply and remove when pure. I think the easiest solution for an hour or two is simple petroleum jelly.

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member

    @Aquahoya To use lanolin pure is not smart.
    Mixed with petroleum jelly it's easier to apply.

    Firstly the "Channel Grease" formula that used to be supplied and used is 90% lanolin + 10% Vaseline -- heat gently and stir together (do not overheat, just enough to allow the two to be mixed together). Defrost setting on the microwave is one method.
    You can use any % mix you want that suits your needs and trials.

    When applying get a helper with latex gloves to cover the places required liberally but do not overdo it as in 16°c , or there abouts the lanolin tends to go hard and form lumps which cling to the body hairs, or are washed off.
    Removal usually requires getting dressed in old clothes (including a hoody of some sorts for the neck and head) to allow the body to warm up then finding and standing in a shower with a scrapper of some sorts and a large bottle of washing up liquid. It may take 2 or 3 applications to make any inroads.
    Finish with a shower gel with a strong perfumed additive. - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • WarmWaterWarmWater SingaporeMember

    Aquahoya, realistically you have to understand your skin tolerances before choosing a solution. If I were you, I'd swim 2-3-4 one hour swims without any protection and gauge the chafe and location of. Then 2-3-4 swims with petroleum jelly and reassess. For that distance, I would put one smallish area of jelly on my right should when sometimes I rub my chin when breathing, otherwise I wouldn't use anything. As Tortuga says, a shave also reduces chaff. Desitin I use as (strong!) sun protection, I used this on a 7 hour swim in bright sunlight and came out without any sun burn whatsoever. You do look a bit of a Charlie though because it's very white, so your face, back, top thighs might amuse the locals.

    Let us know how you get on.

  • allanl16allanl16 Member

    Thinking of going the lanolin + vaseline route for my race. Question, should I apply it before or after I make myself look like a ghost with zinc? Its a 20k race in the keys so the water will be very salty.

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    @allanl16 - After. Also, I'd recommend using nitrile gloves or something to put it on so that it doesn't stay caked on your hands. It's impossible to get them clean again without soap or alcohol, and if you touch your goggles after you touch that stuff, it's going to stay on your goggles all day. I made that mistake once (even with the gloves), and it was a bad time.

  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member

    @allenl16- I zinc, then lanolin. I use straight lanolin, too. There's no such thing as too much, especially in salt water.

    Bring gloves, lots of gloves.

  • JustSwimJustSwim Member

    I had trouble getting the gloves on and then off without getting Vaseline/zinc on my hands. Out of desperation I used a plastic sandwich bag turned inside out which really does the trick. When I am done applying all I have to do is turn it right side out and seal it shut.

  • SoOHIOSwimarathonerSoOHIOSwimarathoner Springboro Ohio Member

    Many, many uses for Lanolin... IMG_0064

  • TomRutterTomRutter New Member

    Has anyone used sudocrem? I've always used vasoline up to now, but it does rub off eventually. Sudocrem appears to be a cheapish and easily available mix of lanolin and zinc oxide but also includes benzyl alcohol. It certainly sticks and is hard to wash off.

Sign In or Register to comment.