Best anti-chafing solution?



  • 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.
  • 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!). The World's Most Popular Open Water Swimming Blog

  • 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. The World's Most Popular Open Water Swimming Blog

  • 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?
  • 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. The World's Most Popular Open Water Swimming Blog

  • 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 Miami, FloridaMember

    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 DenverCharter 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.

  • 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.

  • This is my first post on this forum. I'm hoping some female swimmers are on here and can share if they've had this same issue. A female friend and I both did our first channel swim's last year (I did Anacapa Island - 12 miles, she did Catalina Island - 20 miles) and both of us used Bag Balm for chaffing prevention. Both of us had terrible suit malfunctions, with swimsuits we had trained in and had no issues with in the past. The Bag Balm seemed to make our skin so slick that the suit was sliding all over the place, ballooning open the entire way. It was worse than chaffing. I'm wondering if anyone else has had that happen, where too much of the anti-chaffing substance under straps created this problem, or if it's just likely the Bag Balm. Seriously considering just vaseline (and not a lot of it) to prevent this issue, but thought I'd check here. Both of us are swimming 19 and 12 miles swims in the next couple of weeks, so I thought I'd check here to see if anyone else has had this issue. Also, has anyone tried Aquaphor for a swim 12-19 miles (or longer)? Wondering if that might be better than Vaseline. Thank you!

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    I've always used lanolin, with no issues. I've used LOTS of lanolin, too.

    I did have an issue at my lake this summer, and only at this one lake, where after about 2 hours my suit would start ballooning. It was awful, so I feel your pain. Since it's only ever happened at that lake, I'm assuming there was something in the water that was causing the issue. I'm wondering if you two swam into something weird at your home lake that you took with you to your Channels? It's a long shot, but maybe?

  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COMember

    ssthomas said: I've always used lanolin, with no issues. I've used LOTS of lanolin, too.

    I have had issues putting lanolin on when the air is chilly (sub 50). It solidifies for me. My fix has been to put it on the dash of my truck with hot air blasting to heat it up, but sometimes that's not an option. I think Sarah uses a squeeze bottle kind (right?). I use the stuff out of a tin. Hers likely has different additives, which might help that problem.

  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    I use and have had good results with Gold Bond Friction Defense for fresh water swims 10K and under. It's like Body Glide but usually cheaper. Easy to put on like deodorant, no need for gloves. I've used it in Salt water swims 5K and under with good results. However longer distance beyond 10K fresh, 5K salt need to go with the grease. Good old fashion Vaseline seems to go well up to 20K fresh and 10K salt, after that it's lanolin.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    Karl_Kingery said:

    ssthomas said: I've always used lanolin, with no issues. I've used LOTS of lanolin, too.

    I have had issues putting lanolin on when the air is chilly (sub 50). It solidifies for me. My fix has been to put it on the dash of my truck with hot air blasting to heat it up, but sometimes that's not an option. I think Sarah uses a squeeze bottle kind (right?). I use the stuff out of a tin. Hers likely has different additives, which might help that problem.

    I upgraded to a tub, after your EC swim, @Karl_Kingery. It's actually easier to scoop out with my fingers that way. Lanolin does get hard when it's cold, so it's easier to get on if it's in a tub, rather than to try squeezing it out of a tube. My husband's strong hands have no issues squeezing the tube, but if it's cold, I have trouble. I warm it up by sticking it in my pants waist band for about 5 minutes, if it's in the tube. And from the tub, the bigger globs the better.

    I use Body Glide for short swims, but anything over a few hours and it's not enough.

  • SamSam Member

    I've got a 10km mandatory wetsuit swim (in fresh water) coming up and need some recommendations for anti-chaffing products. It mainly effects me round the neck line. From reading this thread there is a preference for Body Glide but most people say it only works for short swims (i.e. less than 1.5 hours). I expect my swim to last around 3 hours. Any suggestions? Thanks

  • glennglenn cape town SAMember

    hi Sam. I've got a 10km coming up next month but in salt water and I'm worried about the chaffing around my neck. I'm not used to water around the 13 degree mark without a suit so can't get around it. I've used some creams but not always successful. Have tried a sort of plaster tape around my neck but that came off. Am toying with the idea of using a piece of wetsuit material as a sort of neck guard

  • brunobruno Barcelona (Spain)Member

    I've always used just petroleum jelly for swims up to 5 hours, without any problems (not even when I used to wear a wetsuit).

    Only check that is really petroleum jelly (I use Skin Lube ), not the standard "lighter" scented vaseline they use to sell in pharmacies for skin care.

  • SamSam Member

    @glenn and @bruno thank you for your replies. I don't know whether to just risk going with Body Glide (as its a lot cheaper than Skin Lube) - if this a complete no no then it'd be great to get some feedback

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