Saddle sores have plagued cyclists for decades. This skin irritation is named because it occurs on the saddle area – on the buttocks, groin area, and inner thighs. In their initial stages, saddle sores are more of an inconvenience than anything else.
But over time, they can develop into painful infections that can prevent you from cycling for days at a time. Even though we deal with problems caused by cycling crashes, we have all experienced the irritation of saddle sores and know first-hand just how problematic they can be.
What Causes Saddle Sores
Saddle sores are caused when the saddle area of the bike rubs and presses against this skin. This pressure and chafing can cause irritation and inflammation and redness of the skin. The problem is then compounded by perspiration, as the moisture softens the skin and causes fabric to stick. Ultimately, the pressure, chafing, and sweating create a perfect storm of conditions that irritate the skin.
ingrown hairs can contribute to the development of saddle sores. If you are prone to development of sores and irritation from ingrown hairs, avoid shaving your pelvic region. This will avoid irritation to the hair follicles that can lead to saddle sores.
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Saddle Sore Treatment
If you have developed a saddle sore, the first step in treatment is to air out the affected area. Saddle sores are caused by friction and sweat, so to treat them, you need to eliminate both friction and sweat. Taking a day or two off the bike will allow the affected skin time to begin to heal. Whenever possible, allow the affected area exposure to air.
Sleeping without underwear can help reduce friction in the area and can promote healing. Warm compresses can help with the pain and inflammation, but remember to keep the irritated area dry. If the skin has broken, apply antibiotic ointment. Some varieties of these ointments contain numbing agents to help relieve pain, as well.
Some cyclists swear that diaper rash ointments help treat saddle sores. It makes sense, as these creams are used to treat irritation to the skin.
Soothing Epsom salt baths can also promote healing. Soak in warm, but not hot, water. Do not use bubble baths or scented soaps, as they can cause further irritation. After your bath, tap the affected areas dry and use a hair drying on low to make sure you have eliminated all remaining moisture.
You can prevent saddle sores by wearing clean cycling shorts. Remember to wear clean shorts each time you ride. This prevents bacteria from building up and remaining in contact with the skin.
Infected or recurring saddle sores should be treated by a physician. Signs of infection include pus drainage from the site of the sore, redness or swelling that increases despite time off the bike, fever, chills, or increasing pain. These are all signs that an infection has developed that needs to be treated with antibiotics.
Although any general practitioner can treat saddle sores, you may want to consider a visit with a dermatologist if your sores recur. If you have any ongoing concerns or continued pain or troubling symptoms, you should see a physician right away.
At Kass & Moses, we are cyclists, first and foremost. We fight for the rights of injured cyclists to help them get back on the road. If you or a loved one are hurt in a bicycle crash or just have questions about how to get a fair settlement, contact the team at Kass & Moses today.