Preventing saddle sores 101

Saddle sores, the enemy of every cyclist. If you’ve never experienced a saddle sore, I’m envious.

If you try looking up the definition, it’ll tell you, “A bruise or sore on a horse’s back, caused by pressure or chafing of an ill-fitting saddle.” That’s not helpful but that’s kind of essentially it. It’s a sore, usually a bump (can be big or small), that develops wherever your skin makes contact with your saddle.      

I’m susceptible to them. It seems no matter what I do to prevent them, they find their way back. I’ve written extensively about the time I had one cut out.  Luckily, I’ve developed a non-scientific method that’s prevented them so far. 

Going into trainer season, there isn’t much air flow between you and the saddle so you may be more apt to developing a saddle sore. As someone who loves the trainer, I don’t want it to sideline me. 

As with any blog covering its ass, I’m not a dermatologist nor doctor of any kind so use your best judgment and ask your doctor if you have any questions about your  saddle sores. I can only share what’s worked for me.

Get out of your gear ASAP

As soon as I get off my trainer, I do a quick stretch while my legs are still warm (no more than five minutes) and then get out of my bibs. When I first started cycling, I’d sit in them afterward sipping beer. 

When you’re riding in your chamois, your skin is constantly rubbing against the fabric which is against the saddle. It causes minor cuts in your skin. Pair that with the sweat and bacteria and you have the ingredients to infect a pore and create a saddle sore. 

Get out of your bibs as soon as you can and clean the area immediately. 

Apply the Benz’

As soon as I’m undressed, I apply Benzoyl Peroxide face wash and let it sit on my skin for a few minutes. No, it’s not applied to my face but there isn’t any benzoyl peroxide advertised for my nether region.

While this sits on my skin, I usually just scroll through social media or brush out tangles from my hair butt nekkid. 

Be intentional with your body wash 

1. I normally just use typical body wash but on unusually long or rough rides when my skin is exceptionally irritated, I wash myself with Hibiclens Antimicrobial/Antiseptic Skin Cleanser.  It smells like a hospital but I want to kill off the bacteria so the fragrance doesn’t bother me. 

Sometimes, I’ll only wash my saddle area with Hibiclens and the rest of my body with my normal soap.

2. I also have sugar scrub for the times my skin isn’t irritated but it was a long trainer ride. If my skin is already angry, scrubbing it with sugar will only piss it off more which can cause a host of other problems. On the other hand, if I was on my trainer for 2+ hours then I’ll gently scrub my saddle area to help exfoliate any clogged pores.

Post-shower necessities 

1. After rides on non-irritated skin, I’ll wipe a isopropyl alcohol-drenched cotton ball along my skin, avoiding extremely sensitive areas. Rubbing alcohol helps dry the skin but on top of the other things I do before this stage, I don’t do this as often. 

Too many topical ointments that dry the skin out to prevent saddle sores could cause further irritation. I use rubbing alcohol sparingly and check my skin for additional red or tender spots.

2. On irritated skin, I apply a witch hazel-drenched cotton ball on my skin instead. Witch hazel helps heal inflammation and soothes skin. I’ll use this when my saddle area is super angry instead of rubbing alcohol. 

3. Finally, on hot days, I apply Zeasorb, an absorbent powder. I usually do this naked and over a towel because the powder flies all over. It’ll get on the outside of your clothes if you haphazardly pat it on. I noticed it was easier to do this before getting dressed. 

These are the steps I take to prevent saddle sores. If you have your own suggestions, leave a comment. I’d love to know!

What'd you think?