How to Prevent Chafed Nipples When Walking or Running

Nipple Problems
Nipple Problems?. Denis Kartavenko/E+/Getty Images

Both men and women can experience painful nipple chafing when walking or running in sweaty conditions. The salt from sweat combines with friction against clothing and the result can be chafed and bleeding nipples for days to come.

  • Symptoms: You know this one when you get it - but too late. Your nipples are tender or even bleeding.
  • Cause: Nipples can become sore from chafing. The skin breaks down and becomes raw from the effects of sweat, salt, and rubbing against your clothing.

    Prevention of Nipple Chafing

    • Use Lubrication to Prevent Chafed Nipples: Treat your nipples before you walking or running workout with an anti-chafing lubricant such as BodyGlide, Runner's Lube or plain-old petroleum jelly. A drawback of petroleum jelly is that it can be hard to wash out of your clothing, while other lubricants are formulated to wash out better. Top Picks for Chafing Prevention Lubricants
    • Cover Your Nipples with Bandages or Tape: You can use any adhesive bandage or buy specifically designed ones such as NipGuards or NipEaze. You may need to experiment to see which bandages will stay in place once your chest gets sweaty. Otherwise, you may lose the bandages just when you need them most to prevent chafing.
    • Go Shirtless: If you are male, you could walk topless. If your nipples aren't rubbing against a shirt, they shouldn't get chafed. However, this risks developing sunburn on already-sensitive areas. Be sure to apply sunscreen and reapply it as needed for long walks or runs.
    • Wick Away Sweat: Switch from cotton shirts and bras to those made of a sweat-wicking fabric such as CoolMax or polypropylene. These fabrics transport sweat away from the skin, so there is less chance of the skin chafing.
    • Stay away from scratchy-feeling fabrics, even if they claim to be sweat-wicking.
    • Wear looser shirts that don't rub your nipples.
    • Remove nipple jewelry before your walking and running workouts.

    Preventing Nipple Show-Through

    Have you been embarrassed when your sports selfie photo shows your nipples peeking through your shirt? That can be a problem when you have dark aureoles that show through lighter-colored sports bras and shirt fabric.

    Choose sports bras in darker colors to camouflage your nipples. If you decide to take off your shirt to change clothes or to cool off, you won't have to worry about dark nipples showing through the fabric of your sports bra.

    Nippy Nipples Embarrassment

    If you are embarrassed when your nipples are getting nippy and protruding, you can choose a sports bra with a slightly padded cup. Nipple shields or adhesive bandages are other possible solutions to camouflage the outline of your nipples.

    Don't Sweat Your Nipples

    Everyone has nipples. Whatever your comfort level is, don't let your nipples keep you from walking or running.  So long as they aren't painful and you aren't committing public indecency, don't sweat your nipples!