Sure, there are a lot of things in life we don’t need, but chamois cream should not be one of them if you spend any significant time on your bicycle.
As cyclists, we tend to have pretty high pain thresholds; it’s what gets us up the nastiest of climbs. In fact, we even learn to like the pain because it can be make us feel like we’re getting fitter. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? In some cases that’s true, but if you are experiencing pain and chafing on your lady parts when you ride, that is NOT making you stronger. Seriously. It’s just giving you a chappy butt and opening the door for saddle sores. Eww.
So if you’re one of the chamois cream holdouts who thinks you don’t need it, give it a try. Most women who start using it never go back to NOT using chamois cream because it makes such a huge difference for them in terms of comfort and health.
Not real sure about what chamois cream will do for you? Well, let’s go over the benefits, shall we?
Chamois cream helps reduce friction
First and foremost, chamois cream is designed to specifically to help reduce friction on your girly bits when you ride. When you sit on your bike seat and start to pedal, you’ll experience both skin-on-fabric friction (between your skin and bike shorts/chamois pad) as well as skin-on-skin friction (hopefully not much explanation is needed here…let’s just say those delicate petals are subject to a lot of abuse when you ride!). Even if the fabric on your bike shorts and chamois pad are softer than a she-mouse’s belly, you are still going to experience friction. It’s just part of cycling…much like the simple act of walking will produce friction on your feet from your shoes. However, friction is NOT your friend! You know what happens when your feet experience too much friction (blister city!). Too much friction on your nether regions can result in painful chafing, hot spots, and saddle sores. Basically stuff you don’t want because it can keep you off your bicycle until it’s healed up. A dollop of chamois cream “down there” goes a long way to help reduce this friction.
Chamois cream helps reduce saddle sores
What’s a saddle sore, you ask? If you have to ask, you’ve probably never had one (LUCKY YOU!). If you have had one, you are likely cringing about now because you know how painful they are. A saddle sore is essentially a fluid-filled boil (sort of like a big pimple) that forms in your crotch area generally where you have contact with the saddle. They form when bacteria enters the body through small micro-tears in the skin that develop as a result of friction (there’s that word again!). As we discussed above, chamois cream will help reduce this pesky friction. It’s pretty simple: less friction = fewer skin tears = fewer saddle sores. A saddle sore will usually go away within a few days if you rest it, however there are rare cases where they are so severe they require a doctor’s attention. It goes without saying that these nasty buggers hurt like Hades. Most cyclists will agree, it’s not a matter of IF you get a saddle sore, it’s WHEN you’ll get one. Why risk it? Just apply some chamois cream to help ward them off. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Chamois cream helps condition your skin
A good chamois cream will contain emollients to help condition your skin. Why is this important on your lady parts? Like we discussed above, your skin will develop small micro-tears under friction when you ride, which can open the door for saddle sore to develop. By keeping the skin supple and moisturized with chamois cream, it will be more pliable and not as susceptible to tearing. Choose a natural, plant-based cream rich in lipids (fats, oils, fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, etc) but free from parabens and petroleum products (also called “petrolatum”…mineral oil and paraffin wax also falls in this category). Ingredients such as menthol, tea tree oil, and lanolin can be very irritating to some people, watch out for them if you have sensitive skin.
Chamois cream keeps you more comfortable.
By now, it should go without saying that chamois cream will keep you much more comfortable on the bike. Friction hurts. Chafing hurts. Saddle sores hurt. Why ruin a perfectly good bike ride? Even if you are saying to yourself, “I don’t have problems with any of that stuff. I’m comfortable enough”. Think again. Remember when you were a newbie bike rider and you didn’t wear proper bike clothing…and then you got your first pair of padded bike shorts? Remember how much better your bum felt both during and after your rides? Chamois cream will give you that same feeling of “aaaahhhhh…why didn’t I try this sooner?” Women seem to have a pretty high pain threshold, so sometimes we just ride along, not fully aware of the pain we are experiencing until we do something that makes us realize how much better we feel. It’s things like a comfy bike saddle, a good pair of bike shorts, a properly-fitted bicycle…and chamois cream…that help make a good bike ride even better.
The bottom line (pun absolutely intended!) is if you aren’t using chamois cream, you really should be. It’s sort of like using sunscreen…sure, you can go without it when you’re outdoors, but don’t you feel much better at the end of the day when you aren’t sunburned to a crisp? Using chamois cream really isn’t any different…when you take the time to slather some on before you ride, your girly bits will be FAR happier at the end of the day. Just think of chamois cream as sunscreen for where the sun doesn’t shine!