Nipple Chafing

As we progress in our training, one of the lessons we learn is that some things happen at ten miles that don’t happen at three miles. Exhibit A: Nipple Chafing.

What is Nipple Chafing?

Nipple chafing (also known as ‘Fissure of the Nipple’ among other things) is caused by friction which causes soreness, dryness or irritation to the nipple.  It mostly affects men as women generally wear running bras which acts as a barrier.  When running, men’s shirts bounce and rub against the nipple causing chafing.  During prolonged exercise, shirts can become wet and heavy causing greater irritation.


Note: Women may experience chafing around the bra line or in other places where friction can occur and BodyGlide should be your new best friend when trying to minimize the effects of friction on our skin.


As our friend Andy says in the video above, nipple chafing is a vicious cycle. Once it occurs, it’s likely to keep happening. Before it’s happened, BodyGlide is a good preventative measure. But once you are afflicted, I find band-aids or nip guards are the only answer.

Perhaps one of the cruelest aspects of this situation is that often we may be unaware that it’s happening.  Some runners can get to the point where blood actually starts flowing from the area, giving this affliction one of its nicknames — Red Eleven (named for the two red streaks that are now on your chest).  You will see this during the marathon, but hopefully not on a Portland Fit member!  Rest assured, when the victim gets in the shower after their workout, they will be fully aware of their predicament. Hell hath no fury like a shower after red eleven.


    • Technical fabric shirts. These are better than cotton for several reasons. They are better at wicking moisture and will evaporate perspiration more effectively, reducing the weight and moisture in your shirt — two factors that increase likelihood of chafing.
    • Bodyglide. This comes in a deodorant type stick that you can apply all over your body. I’ve used it on nipples, between my thighs, under my arms, and around my belt line when wearing a hydration belt. Anywhere friction with skin can occur. BodyGlide is available at Portland Running Company.
    • Band-Aids. These are my chosen weapon against nipple chafing. I get waterproof ‘tough strips’ and I apply them vertically. I find this orientation is less likely to fall off during a two-hour run.
    • Nip Guards. These are great and they are easy to apply and easy to remove. They are designed for this express purpose. But they are more expensive than band-aids.  Nip Guards are also available at Portland Running Company.


Prevent infection and allow time to heal. Wear band-aids when exercising to stop the cycle.