Guillaume Barucq
Doctor/Author of Surfers’ Survival Guide
Speedos...your cure to boardshort rash?

Speedos...your cure to boardshort rash?


The Inertia

You know the pain. The one from those boardshorts that’s seriously cramping your warm-water enjoyment. Well, here is some info and a few tips on how to prevent boardshort rash.

Surf rash is caused by the friction of the wet boardshort and the skin. The skin is weakened by the repeated chafing of the fabric and irritation caused by the abrasive action of the salt contained in seawater.  Friction with the surfboard rails and wax, while sitting on the board, can make things worse. The skin becomes red and painful. Red bumps appear, and sometimes superficial wounds show up. Surfers start walking like cowboys, and each session can be torture.

Fortunately, there are a few solutions available to prevent this painful experience and to limit the inconvenience (Some more useful than others.):

  • Spend a few days without surfing or limit the duration of your sessions. Okay, it’s obvious. But worth mentioning, though it’s unthinkable when the waves are good.
  • Switch your boardshort sessions with some wetsuit sessions (springsuit), so you can let your skin rest. This will allow you to exchange your thigh rash for a neck and armpit rash because of the wetsuit. Great.
  • Surf with a small and tight boardshort. At the moment, only a few Brazilian surfers dare to wear them, but it’s up to you to start a new surfing trend: surfing in “speedos”… An even more radical way would be to wear a thong, like pro surfer Alana Blanchard who once pretended to use it to avoid the rash.
  • If you are not ready to leave your favorite boardshort, you can wear a cycling jersey that will act as a “rash guard.” Another solution to thigh rash is the surf sleeve which operates as a second skin preventing the irritation. You can also choose a boardshort with integrated shorts such as the Quiksilver Explosive model for example.
  • Apply a moisturizing or healing cream. Once or twice a day on a clean and dry skin will do, and many different products exist. The more natural option is the “aloe vera” with anti-inflammatory and healing benefits. Different healing creams and lotions are sold in your local pharmacy. Some sunscreen brands also offer anti-inflammatory products.
  • To prevent rash, apply some Vaseline to protect affected and sensitive areas. Disadvantages: by applying it right before going into the water,  your hands can be really slippery, which will complicate grabbing the rails to duck dive or to take off. We have also to point out that Vaseline is a petroleum jelly which is not really eco-friendly especially once spread into the marine environment.

If you have experienced an inner-thigh boardshort rash, don’t hesitate to send your photos on the Surf Prevention Facebook Page.


  • Pat

    I’ve found that the best thing to use on board rash is baby diaper rash cream. It may sound silly, but it works — in a hurry.

  • Pat

    I’ve found that the best thing to use on board rash is baby diaper rash cream. It may sound silly, but it works — in a hurry.