Surfing rash, also known as “suit rash” or “board rash”, is a common skin irritation caused by abrasion from the surfboard, waves, and wetsuit rubbing against your body. While annoying, rash is usually harmless and heals within a few days if properly treated. Here are techniques for relieving discomfort and speeding recovery from surfing rash.
Causes of Surfing Rash
Rash develops from the friction between skin and various surfaces while surfing:
- Your wetsuit chafing as you paddle
- Laying on the board’s grippy deck to paddle out
- Rubbing against the board when popping up
- Sand scraping against exposed skin from wiping out
This repeated abrasion breaks superficial skin layers causing redness and irritation. Rash most often appears on the chest, stomach, legs, knees, and ankles.
Treating Acute Surfing Rash
For fresh rashes just sustained, focus on pain relief:
- Rinse skin with clean fresh water to remove salt, sand and debris
- Take OTC pain medication like ibuprofen to reduce inflammation
- Apply chilled aloe vera gel to numb burning and stinging
- Let rash dry and avoid rewetting when leaving water
These steps minimize initial discomfort from new rash.
Healing Rash Over Time
As rash persists over the next several days, utilize these healing remedies:
- Clean rash gently with mild soap and lukewarm water
- Pat dry and apply antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin to prevent infection
- Cover with non-stick gauze or bandages to protect and cushion
- Take OTC antihistamines like Benadryl to ease itching as rash scabs
- Avoid picking scabs so new skin can form underneath
Proper wound care facilitates skin recovering intact.
Preventing infection is key to proper rash healing:
- Watch for increased redness, swelling, discharge, which indicate infection
- If infected, see a doctor promptly for antibiotic treatment
- Keep covering bandages dry and change frequently
- Apply antibacterial cream daily until fully healed
- Avoid surfing with open rash to prevent contact with bacteria
Seeking medical care promptly fights problematic infections.
Advanced Treatment Options
For very painful or stubborn surf rash, additional treatment options include:
- Hydrocortisone creams to reduce inflammation
- Prescription topical antibiotics for worsening infections
- Silicone gel sheets to protect wounds while surfing
- Gentle debriding of dead tissue by a doctor
- Oral antibiotics if infection spreads into deeper skin layers
Seek medical advice to determine if advanced treatments are warranted.
Preventing Future Surfing Rash
Once healed, consider these rash prevention strategies:
- Apply protective waterproof emollient creams before sessions
- Choose wetsuits and apparel that limit skin contact and chafing
- Cover problem areas like knees and ankles with athletic tape
- Keep sand off your board and body when changing in and out of wetsuits
Stop surfing immediately if rash recurs and keep the area protected until fully healed. Staying proactive helps avoid repeated rash problems.
With attentive treatment and prevention, surfing with minimal discomfort from rash is totally achievable. Don’t let suit rash deter you from amazing sessions!
Frequently Asked Questions About Surfing Rash
Surfing rash is a nuisance but doesn’t have to inhibit your time in the water. Here are answers to common questions about treating and preventing this skin irritation:
Does surfing rash require medical treatment?
Mild cases can be treated effectively at home. Seek medical care if rash worsens or becomes infected. Signs like fever, swollen lymph nodes or red streaking warrant doctor evaluation.
How long does it take surfing rash to heal?
With proper care, mild to moderate rash usually resolves within 3-5 days. More severe cases can take 1-2 weeks to fully heal. Avoid surfing until rash has closed up.
Should I use antibacterial or regular soap to clean rash?
Antibacterial soap is recommended to prevent infection in open rash wounds. Gently cleanse once or twice daily and always pat dry.
Will applying vitamin E speed healing of surfing rash?
Yes, vitamin E’s moisturizing properties help rejuvenate damaged skin cells. Use creams containing vitamin E directly on affected areas 1-2 times per day.
Can I prevent surfing rash on my ankles and knees?
Covering your knees and ankles with athletic tape creates a protective barrier against abrasion from the board. This prevents rashing in vulnerable areas.
Is rash from my wetsuit or board more common?
Board rash on the torso or inner thighs is more prevalent, but wetsuit rash on the neck, underarms and cuffs is also common depending on fit and chafing.
Will wearing a rash guard fully protect me from irritation?
Rash guards only cover the chest – thighs and lower legs remain prone to rashing. Apply waterproof moisturizing creams to all unprotected skin before surfing.
Should wetsuits be washed or treated to prevent rash?
Yes, rinse wetsuits thoroughly after sessions and periodically wash with wetsuit shampoo. Proper cleaning prevents bacteria buildup that worsens rashing.
Don’t let painful rash keep you out of the water. With some knowledge and preparation, surfing rash can be minimized and overcome.