How to Stop Surf Rash

Warm air, salt water, moisture and the friction of your skin moving against the surf board can cause rashes.
Warm air, salt water, moisture and the friction of your skin moving against the surf board can cause rashes. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Surfing is a great way to enjoy the water and sun, while getting in some physical activity. However, all that water, heat and climbing on and off the board, can wreak havoc on your skin. The friction caused by pulling yourself on your stomach can cause skin rashes, as can the waxes you applied to your board. Your wetsuit can also be a prime source of skin irritation, with rashes caused by moisture and chafing. Your passion for surfing does not have to be a source of misery, once the surfing stops.

Things You'll Need

  • Sunblock
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Lycra surf sleeve or neoprene shorts
  • Rash vest
  • Quality wetsuit

Apply sunscreen, particularly to areas such as your underarms where you will be rubbing the surfboard while paddling.

Prevent rashes on the neck from your wetsuit by applying petroleum jelly to your neck, before hitting the waves.

Purchase a wetsuit without rough spots or exposed seams that can rub against the skin and cause a rash. Ensure that the suit fits properly, not too loose or too tight.

Board shorts are often a cause of rashes because the seams rub against your legs -- your thighs rub against the material and board -- and because your chest is exposed. Wear Lycra leg sleeves or a pair of neoprene shorts underneath your board shorts, to prevent a rash from forming between your legs.

Paddling to and from shore, as well as pulling yourself up onto your board, can leave you with a rash on your stomach and chest. Rashes can also be caused by simply pulling your wetsuit on and off. A rash vest can be worn underneath your wetsuit to prevent this.

Put your wetsuit on while it is dry and sand-free whenever possible.

If all attempts to prevent a rash fail, treat it immediately with diaper cream purchased from your local pharmacy. A small amount of medicated cream should help clear up your surf rash in no time.

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