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  Latest update: 12/8/2021

Saddle Sores

A saddle sore is the irritation of the skin at the buttocks, groin, or thighs which results from sitting on a bicycle seat. This local skin injury is caused by a combination of friction, moisture, and pressure. Saddle sores are categorized as: In this article De. Enad nicely summarizes the progression: "..the friction of thighs rubbing together, clothing, or the bicycle seat can irritate the skin and cause a sore to occur. Moisture, like sweat, can contribute to increased friction and cause the natural bacteria in your groin area to come in contact with the sores. Bacteria often increases inflammation, redness, pain, and a longer healing time. Last, but not least, is that the pressure of your body on the seat can cause saddle sores if you aren't using the correct texture and size of equipment for your body."

The initial discomfort is a simple skin irritation, but it decreases the skin's resistance to infection and the bacteria (which are always present on the skin of the buttocks) then take advantage of the opportunity.

Strategies for decreasing the risk of saddle sores focus on a) decreasing the initial tissue injury and b) minimizing potential for further bacterial infection. Let's look at preventative measures first.

  1. Clothing/Equipment.
  2. Riding routine
  3. The bike.
  4. Topical agents. Creams and ointments decrease friction as well as providing a barrier to prevent bacteria from invading injured tissues.

    What do I do? First I spend a bit more on my bike shorts. If you prorate the cost, it is just a few pennies more per mile. I only use a lubricant cream early in the season or when I am going on a multiday tour. It's easier to take preventative action than put up with the annoyance of a saddle sore knowing I'm going to have to get on the bike. Having tried almost every possible combination of butt butters and cremes, I've had the best success starting with a base layer of neosporin to the sit bone (ischial tuberosity) area where I experience most of my saddle sores. My theory is that it cuts down on the skin bacterial which aggravate even minor irritations. I follow this with a coat of either Bag Balm or Chamois Butter to provide the lubricant/moisture barrier. Even riding 4 or 5 times a week, that has kept me saddle sore free for several years.

    Treatment if you get a saddle sore

    All questions and suggestions are appreciated and will be answered.

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