How to avoid saddle sores

During the long, warm summer days, we spend much more time in the saddle. And, especially, if your skin is sensitive like mine, you have to do something to avoid saddle sores.

“A saddle sore in humans is a skin ailment on the buttocks due to, or exacerbated by, horse riding or cycling on a bicycle saddle. It often develops in three stages: skin abrasion, folliculitis (which looks like a small, reddish acne), and finally abscess.” (wikipedia)

Saddle sores are very painful
Saddle sores are very painful and can ruin your ride.

To avoid saddle sores:

  • Keep it clean! Never wear a short twice, without washing it in between. Always wear clean shorts for each ride.
  • After a ride, take off your shorts as soon as possible. Then take a shower, clean well your crotch.
  • When not on the bike, wear loose-fitting underwears and clothing that allows your skin to breathe.
  • Sleep in the buff, this will keep your crotch dry, and prevents clothing contact.
  • Choose a correct saddle – The best choice for any individual rider can only be found through trial and error.
  • Wear good quality shorts.
  • Bike fitting – you can reduce the friction with a proper riding position. If you constantly develop saddle sores, it might be good to consult a bike fitting professional.
  • To reduce friction, also use chamois cream. In fact, without using a chamois cream, none of the above were the exact solution to saddle sores (at least to me).
How to avoid saddle sores - Assos chamois cream
Assos chamois cream

Normally I prefer Assos Chamois cream (pictured above), but I saw a cheaper alternative on wiggle, so decided to give it a try. Udderly Smooth Cmaois Cream – $9.17 on wiggle (May 2013 price).

How to avoid saddle sores - Udderly Smooth chamois cream
Udderly Smooth chamois cream

If you develop saddle sores

If you develop saddle sores, the best thing is taking a break stopping riding for a while. Keep in mind that if left untreated over an extended period of time, saddle sores may need to be drained by a physician.

Sometimes you may need to continue cycling even if you developed saddle sore. For example, you might be racing a stage race, or in the middle of a long cycling tour etc. If so,

  • Use more chamois cream.
  • Consider changing your saddle. With changing your saddle, you may change up the location of pressure points.
  • Keep it dry and clean.
  • Some sources suggest using vaseline and tea tree oil (I didn’t test it).
  • Use antibacterial/antiseptic infection creams.
  • If the saddle sores are really infected, see a doctor – especially if your saddle sore lasts for more than two weeks or is excruciatingly painful. S/he may prescribe some antibiotics.


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