There’s almost nothing as painful as dealing with saddle sores during cycling. They really hurt. If you try to just suffer through the pain and hope they’ll go away on their own, you can end up with much bigger problems. Don’t ignore them, because a sore can get worse and turn into a hard, persistent lump called a cyst which can sometimes even require surgery for removal.
Here’s a baker’s dozen of preventive tips that should keep you from developing saddle sores or cysts.
—Always wear clean shorts.
—Wear snug-fitting shorts so the liner can’t shift and chafe.
—If your shorts (or saddle) are uncomfortable, find something more compatible with your anatomy.
—Use a chamois lube to reduce friction and abrasion.
—Get out of shorts ASAP after a ride.
—Shower or at least wash your crotch ASAP after a ride.
—Wash with an antibacterial soap if you’re susceptible to sores.
—Treat “hot spots” with an OTC acne gel or the prescription product called erythromycin (Emgel).
—Sleep without pants to keep your crotch dry overnight.
—Consider a course of antibiotics at the first sign of infection.
—Be sure your saddle’s height and angle are correct.
—Stand frequently and shift position on the saddle to relieve constant pressure.
—Take several days off if a sore is getting angry. Better to heal it now than let it become something that only a scalpel can cure.
Saddle sores are a big subject. Here are three terrific articles written by our expert contributors that cover them in great depth from different perspectives.
A Primer on Saddle Sores, by Rick Shultz
A Guide to Saddle Sores, by Arnie Baker, MD
How to Solve Saddle Sores, by Fred Matheny