Saddle sores are something of a taboo subject among cyclists but they can be very serious. They're basically inflamed hair follicles that can become infected and develop into an abscess.
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You'll certainly know if you've got saddle sores because you'll feel a bump which can be very sensitive and painful and you may be able to see a red, inflamed area. Prevention is crucial but there are also recommendations for treating saddle sores should they develop.
The health.com.au-search2retain national road cycling team has shared their pro-rider tips (based on personal experience) for fellow cycling enthusiasts to help prevent and/or treat saddle sores.
1. Wear the right gear
Firstly no undies! When you wear proper cycling shorts you're not supposed to wear anything underneath. Cycling kit is specifically designed to restrict the movement of your clothing thereby reducing friction on your tender bits. The chamois inside also helps to reduce the pressure of your bottom on the saddle. Whilst it may not be the sexiest gear around, ensure you're kitted out in cycling-specific gear because it's designed that way for a purpose.
2. Don't sit around in sweaty cycling gear
You can get away with sitting in a café for 20 minutes after a ride, but spending all day in them isn't a good idea.
3. Wear fresh kit every ride
This seems obvious but some people get lazy. Always make sure you wear fresh cycling clothes — your friends will thank you for this too.
4. Use wet wipes
If you can't shower after riding then wet wipes are a good way to make sure that you're clean, particularly if you're out riding in the bush with limited or no shower facilities.
5. Apply chamois cream
Chamois cream is made to stop friction when bike riding or motorcycling. It's like Vaseline in viscosity and is applied directly to your skin or to your chamois pad in your cycling shorts before riding.
6. Find a seat that fits you
There are male- and female-specific saddles so choose carefully! The purpose of the hard bike saddle is to stop friction and some saddles also have cut outs which reduce the compression area. It's really important to get a saddle that's right for you because if it doesn't fit your body properly it will cause problems.
7. Take care increasing training
If you're increasing your training, or going on a big trip or cycling holiday, you need to be extra diligent with all the above rules.
So what if the worst happens and you still get a sore?
- Clean the area with antibacterial wipes.
- Rest so the sore has time to heal. If you really have to ride try a donut-shaped corn plaster over the sore.
- There are some topical medicated creams and topical painkillers that can help. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
- Oral antibiotics which specifically target skin infections are also available on prescription.
Chloe Quin is a wellness expert with online health insurance provider health.com.au, whose mission is to help Australians access affordable healthcare that's easy to understand. Also a qualified yoga instructor, Chloe is passionate about empowering women to boost their health and fitness in fun, family-friendly ways.