Whether you only ride to work or 400km weekly, chances are you will experience saddle sores at some point.
While there are many theories out there on what saddle sores actually are –infected hair follicles, cysts or boils –one thing is for certain: they’re a total nuisance and can be quite painful.
Luckily, they are somewhat preventable and usually, treatable at home.
I’m by no means a medical expert, but I do spend a lot of time in the saddle. As such, I have had my fair share of saddle sores –everythingfrom irritated little bumps to bloody blisters (TMI? Sorry!).
Saddle sores are largely caused by chafing, so you are as likely to get them from an hour spin in jeans as you are from a long day in chamois.
The best treatment for saddle sores is preventing them. Here are a few simple steps that can diminish your chance of getting them:
- Get a proper bike fit. If you’re reaching for your pedals, you’re creating more pressure on your sit bones and causing more chafing. The same hing happens when you’re sitting too low. Also make sure your saddle isn’t tilted too far upward or downward.
- Get a good saddle. There are entire books written on what makes a good saddle but when it really comes down to it, it’s personal. However, I recommend that women try a women’s saddle rather than simply ride the stock saddle that comes with a bike. Usually these stock saddles are fine for 30km or so but any more time spent on it, can get uncomfortable. Also, be sure to break in a saddle before taking it out on a six-hour adventure. (I learned that the hard way…)
- Chamois creme. They make it for a reason. You won’t need it for short commutes but I highly recommend using chamois creme for longer rides. Personally, I like the for-women-by-women Hoo Ha Ride Glide.
- Wear padded cycling shorts for longer rides. And in case no one has told you yet: NO UNDERWEAR. This is probably the number one mistake new riders make and also the main cause of friction and chafing.
- In fact, avoid any bottoms with apparent seams.
- Take off your shorts as soon as possible. Hygiene is key. Get out of your cycling clothes as soon as possible.
- Increase distance gradually.
If you do get saddle sores:
- Clean with warm water after the ride. Soak in an Epsom salt bath for a while if you can.
- Use antibiotic ointments to aid healing. Nappy-rash ointments can help as well.
- Go commando. Skip the underwear while sleeping that evening (and the next). Drying out the infected area speeds up the healing process.
- Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
- Give it a break. Take a few days off the bike to let it heal.
- If you must ride, wear a clean, different pair of padded shorts and/or try to switch up the saddle. Try to limit the time in the saddle and slather on the chamois creme.
- If the problem persists or the sores are infected, go see your doctor for prescription antibiotics.