Nipple Chafing Prevention for Runners

Gentleman might be more accustomed to talking about nipple chafing, but it can happen to any runner! Any fabric that is rubbing as we get sweaty can cause friction and thus chafing.

Nothing is going to run a long run or race day faster than a searing burning pain. The symptoms of runner’s nipple are pretty hard to miss:

  • Red and irritated
  • Dry and cracked
  • Burning and super sensitive to touch
  • Potentially bleeding if the chaf continues long enough

What causes jogger’s nipple (nipple chafing)?

Chafing is caused by friction between skin and fabric rubbing together. It’s magnified while running due to the moisture and salt of our sweat.

Any of the following can cause it:

  • Women who try running without a sports bra
  • Wearing a sports bra that doesn’t fit and moves around too much
  • Gentlemen running in cotton or other coarse fabric (honestly I’ve seen it happen in all different fabrics)
  • Gentlemen in the winter or during super hard efforts when nipples get harder
  • Simply being a runner doing something hard because that’s always when chafing happens, there’s some weird universal law

One interesting study showed that nipple chafing in runners is the most common marathon malady! And it seems to happen more to people who run over 37 miles per week.

While it’s laughable with Andy in the Rabies run, the truth is nipple chafing is painful.

Seeing runners cross the finish line with bloody shirts just makes me wince for them!

How to prevent nipple chafing while running?

Prevention comes down to a few key steps:

  1. Apply a lubricant prior to all runs (I like this anti-chafe stick best, but Vaseline works too!)
  2. No more loose or rough clothing
  3. Utilize nipple tape, nipple guards or other covers
  4. Wear form fitting clothing and watch for seams

What is nipple tape?

It is not duct tape, which I have painfully seen used in a pinch during ultramarathons and it’s not any of the other common tapes you have around the house because they won’t stay put as you sweat.

  • RockTape is a great kinesio tape that is sweatproof and will stay put
  • Cut in to a small square
  • Shave around the area if needed so you aren’t applying tape on top of hair (it will hurt later)
  • NipEaze will save you time! By being cut to size and easier to remove after every run, it just costs a little more than a big roll of tape.
  • Band Aids can work – but who else finds they ALWAYS MOVE and we don’t want that

Because RockTape is meant for injuries, it will stay put for a number of days through workouts and showers. Honestly, if it doesn’t bother you to leave it on I would just let it go for a few days.

Once you are ready to remove the nipple tape, climb in the shower and lather up. The warm water and soap will help to loosen the adhesive.
race day funnies


Running shirts to prevent nipple chafing?

  • Option one is to go shirtless, I know that works for a lot of guys….but not all!
  • Compression shirts like this one from Under Armour mean less movement and friction
  • Soft shirts and are WICKING are really important

But don’t think that the shirt means you can skip the lubricate! You gotta get some glide on those nips before you get going and personally if I were prone to chafing, I’d just slap on the nipple tape because I’m not interested in pain.

How do you treat chafed nipples?

Jogger’s nipple is absolutely preventable and some of our treatment plan works for prevention.

But step one is to take care of your current situation which is probably more noticeable after that painful shower.

  1. Pat dry the area (no rubbing obviously!!)
  2. Apply a ointment like Neosporin to prevent infection
  3. Daily start applying a moisturizer like Lanolin cream (I actually use this around my lips because they get so dry from my breathing on long runs)
  4. Try not to cover the area all the time with a bandage because we want the air to help it continue healing
  5. DO cover it with the tips below if you are going to run

Skin issues are one of the things runners have to contend with but hopefully these tips will help you out!

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Nipple Chafing Prevention for Runners is written by amanda for

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