There’s a phenomena in surfing that sounds disgusting, and far worse than it really is.

It’s known as surfing rash. 

No, it’s not some disease that surfers catch, and no, it’s not some surfer specific STI either. 

It’s much more innocent than that. 

Nonetheless it’s painful, and frustrating as hell, so in this article you’ll learn:

  • What surfing rash actually is.
  • How you get it. 
  • And what you can do to avoid it. 

All of that coming your way in the next two minutes, so keep reading. 


WHAT IS SURFING RASH

Surfing rash (aka surfing rub) is an irritation of the skin.

It’s not something you can catch, or something that’s contagious, instead it’s caused as the result of material continuously rubbing against wet skin. 

Commonly caused by the harsh neoprene material of a wetsuit rubbing against the skin, boardshorts rubbing the inner thighs, or t-shirt rubbing under the arm. 

Surfing rub can also form on the ribs too, where the chest rubs the deck of your surfboard when you paddle. 


WHAT DOES SURFING RASH FEEL LIKE

It’s not the worst thing you could ever get, but it can become painful. 

The discomfort is very similar to that of getting rub on your feet when your shoes are too small, or brand new. 

Not pleasant, but not the worst thing in the world either. 


WHAT DOES SURFING RASH LOOK LIKE

The continual rubbing that leads to surf rash irritates the skin causing small, round welts on the body. 


DO I NEED TO TREAT SURFERS RASH

99% of the time all you have to do is just take a day or so out of the water, or upgrade your gear and you’ll be fine.

In tropical climates though you may need to be a little bit more careful. 

If you keep surfing through it, and let it heal it can turn into surf ulcers. 

These are the last thing you want on your surf trip. 

So, if you’ve got a bit of rash, no stress, surf through it, suck it up and go nuts.

But if that rash starts to create an open wound, be sure to look after it, keep it clean, and maybe sit out a few surfs to let it heal.


HOW TO STOP GETTING SURFING RASH

Ok, the first step to avoiding surfers rash is to invest in quality surf gear that fits. 

You see, real surf brands know that wetsuit rub, boardshort rub, etc. are a real thing, so they build solutions into their manufacturing. 

Cheaper, non-endemic surf brands likely won’t. 

There are also a few product solutions on the market for kissing goodbye to this pesky condition too:


VASELINE

Grab yourself a tub of vaseline and be sure to slop it on any affected areas pre surf.

Vaseline is a lubricant and will help to minimise the friction caused by wetsuits or surfing attire. 


NO MORE RASH STICK

This is a pretty cool creation by the guys at Sticky Johnsons. 

In all honesty it’ll do the same as vaseline, but it comes in a nice roll-on type container that makes it clean and easy to apply. 


HOW TO TREAT SURFING RASH

To treat your surf rash, why not try one of the following:


PAPAW CREAM

This stuff is all natural, cheap, and works a treat. 


SETT RASH CREAM

Designed specifically for the purpose of soothing wetsuit rash, this cream will do the job.


ALOE VERA GEL

Aloe vera will cool and soothe the affected area post surf.


CONCLUSION

Surfing rash is an inevitability. 

It’s not a case of if, but when you’ll get it - it kinda comes with the territory. 

But the good news is that the more you surf, the more your skin will harden up over time making surfing rash far less of an issue. 

And when you do get it, you now know what to do to treat it. 

Hope this has helped.

Yew!

Rowan 🤙

ROWAN CLIFFORD

Rowan is the technical nerd behind the scenes. A lover of everything entrepreneurial, and living a minimal, simple life.

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