Chafing is a type of skin irritation, that surface when wet skin rob against another surface (clothes or skin). You won't see this issue on small trips or day hikes, but long-distance hiking will certainly make you discover what chafing is. It can surface in many places; between butt cheeks, armpits, the arc of the foot, nipples, tights, the groin area, just to name a few. If you have ever experienced chafing, you would agree with me that it is far from pleasant. If it gets severe, it can even prevent you from finishing your trip. At a severe level, it is known as a skin burn or friction burn.
Chafing usually happens when your skin is moist or wet. The best way to prevent chafing is by staying as dry as possible. Make sure to layer down properly and to have a more relax (less sweaty) pace.
Leave the cotton clothes home, go wool or polyester they breathe better and help to prevent moisture build-up.
It also helps if your clothes have a little spandex or any material that makes them stretch.
There are balms, lubricants, or baby powders that help to prevent chafing (if it really is an issue).
Make sure you wear clothes which are the right size, having them too loose or too tight can increase the risk of chafing.
Avoid rubbing or scratching the area.
Get in better shape if you are having an easier time physically you will sweat less.
If you cross creeks with your walking shoes, make sure to dry your socks once a day (if possible).
Do wear breathable rain gear.
For women, wear a sports bra to prevent chafing under your breast.
For men, wear pouch underwear (like Saxx) to prevent chafing in the groin.
The early stage is usually when you start feeling a skin discomfort but it is still bearable. At this stage, you must help your skin to heal, if not it will worsen, and trust me you don't want to get there!
Keep doing some of the prevention tips.
You need to prevent further friction where it is irritated. For example, if it's between your toes, put a piece of toilet paper to keep them separate, second-skin (like band-aids) are great as well.
If you can't stay dry, use a lubricant to help your skin glide instead of rough friction.
Try to have even more ventilation going in the irritated area, for example, if it's between the butt cheeks, go commando (no underwear). You should still wear your pants or shorts though!
Take a rest day and air out your body.
You will know you are at this stage when the discomfort changes into suffering. At this stage, you are often too advance to get rid of it while still hiking.
Keep doing everything from the above
Take a few days off to heal.
If it is unbearable or infected seek medical attention (Yes! it can get that far!)