Most cyclists will get a saddle sore at one point or another during their riding adventures. These are riders that have the right bike fit, remove shorts immediately after riding and wash shorts before wearing them again. In spite of doing these things right, a darn rash or saddle sore shows up.
For any number or reasons, the cyclist doesn't want to run to the doctor to have the entire office take a look at the angry Chewbacca. Many cyclists would prefer to try some home remedies to solve the problem themselves before making an appointment with the doctor. Should home remedies fail, only then do they make a doctor's appointment.
Talk to any experienced cyclist and they have their own potion or method for getting a saddle sore or chamois rash to heal more quickly.
Over the years, and many group ride discussions, I've collected a list of some of these home remedies and have many of them for you in this column. Along with each remedy, I've listed why the remedy may work and the intended effect or the active ingredients.
Listed in no particular order, let's begin with creams and ointments.
Noxema1 of 11
This skin cream was originally created as a remedy for sunburn and was commonly referred to as "no-eczema." Later it became a popular skin cleanser.
The active ingredients include camphor (slight local anesthetic and is antimicrobial—killing or inhibiting bacteria, fungi or protozoans), menthol (local anesthetic and counterirritant properties) and eucalyptus (has anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relief) and liniment (relieves pain and stiffness) properties).
Vagisil2 of 11
Though typically thought of as a feminine care product, plenty of cyclists—male and female—use this product. Some use it prophylacticly (intended to prevent sores before they appear), and others use it as a treatment after the saddle sore has appeared.
The active ingredients include benzocaine (local anesthetic and topical pain reliever) and resorcinol (antiseptic, helps reduce the possibility of infection, and disinfectant, kills microorganisms living on substances).
Preparation H3 of 11
Though this ointment is advertised to shrink the swelling of hemorrhoidal tissues, some cyclists believe it helps shrink saddle sores. Active ingredients include glycerin (water soluble and is hygroscopic—that is, it attracts water molecules from the surrounding environment), phenylephrine (a vasoconstrictor that decreases blood flow to the area, leading to decreased mucosal edema), pramoxine (local anesthetic) and white petrolatum (topical ointment with healing properties).
Tea Tree Oil4 of 11
Some cyclists use the oil, while others prefer a stick similar to lip balm. Its medicinal properties include antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.
Antibacterial OintmentsNeosporin, Polysporin 5 of 11
The specific ingredients vary, but these ointments are commonly used to prevent infection in minor wounds.
Hot Compress, Bath or Tub6 of 11
Hot compresses have been used to treat acne, with the goal to bring pimples to a head so they can drain and dry out. Some cyclists use one of the many home formulas used for acne treatment, and apply it with a hot compress.
Since it is somewhat difficult to apply a hot compress to your bum, some cyclists will sit in a hot bath or hot tub to encourage the saddle sore to come to a head and drain. Often, an antiseptic or a wound cover is applied after the pimple drains.
Tegaderm7 of 11
This is a thin, transparent wound dressing that I covered in the column "When Flesh Meets Earth". It is a wound care product that some cyclists have found helpful when covering and treating saddle sores.
The powder category is used more for chamois rash than for saddle sores. Some cyclists believe the powders prevent saddle sores, while others have not had the same positive experience.
Talcum Powder8 of 11
Often referred to as "talc", it is a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate in the loose form. Interestingly it is used in many industries, including electrical switchboards, due to its resistance to heat. It has astringent properties (tends to shrink or constrict body tissues) and is often the main ingredient used in baby powder, tailor's chalk and a hand-drying agent for basketball players.
There is concern that inhaling talcum powder can lead to serious respiratory problems.
Baby Powder9 of 11
The original Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder is 99-percent non-fibrous talc. Other baby powders include some variation of the following ingredients: corn starch (used for generations to prevent or help heal diaper rash and other skin irritations as starch is thought to absorb wetness), arrowroot powder (arrowroot is a tuber containing about 23 percent starch), tapioca starch (another plant root starch), zinc oxide (antibacterial and deodorizing), calendula extract (aids in wound healing), as well as other ingredients.
Anti Monkey Butt10 of 11
This is a powder using talc or cornstarch and contains calamine, which is a combination of zinc oxide and iron oxide. It has mild antipruritic (anti-itching agent), antiseptic and astringent properties.
On a positive note, at least one cyclist has had a positive experience with every item on this list. It may take you a bit of experimenting to determine which product or technique is best for you, because like most things every body is different and what works for you may or may not work for someone else.
Of course, see a doctor if your saddle sore or rash condition gets worse or causes you to stop riding.