Published on 6th April 2018

Nipple care for runners

Nipple chafing is as painful as it sounds, and long distance runners face the greatest likelihood of developing this uncomfortable condition. Jogger's nipple (as it’s also called) is caused by the friction of your shirt or bra (especially if it’s cotton) rubbing against sensitive nipple tissue and is more likely to happen if you’re running in particularly warm or wet weather, or for longer than ten miles.

The damage is usually mild, but very painful! This is usually worse in cold weather when nipples are more likely to become erect and prone to rub against clothing.

Keep an eye out for these common symptoms of a chafed nipple:

  • Irritation or a stinging sensation

  • Redness of the skin

  • Soreness

  • Dryness

  • In severe cases, the nipple may crack and bleed

So save your favorite running shirt, and your nipples, with these tips.

Invest in the right kit

You don’t need to break the bank on a new running wardrobe (but don’t let us stop you!), so long as you get the basics right:

  • Wear a well-fitting, supportive sports bra that minimizes movement

  • Choose materials such as Lycra and silk that wick away sweat

Reduce friction

Since friction is the culprit behind most cases of jogger’s nipple it makes sense to keep this to a minimum by applying a lubricant, such as Vaseline or Bodyglide, to your nipples. It’s also worth carrying an emergency stash on you during the run in case you develop some last minute rub!

Protect your nips!

Using a protective barrier that prevents your nipples from coming into contact with your bra or top can be used preventatively and when you start to notice irritation. Options include:

  • Special nip-guards made of foam or rubber

  • Waterproof Band-aids or Band-aids with wart cushions (just be careful when you remove them!)

Pierce de resistance

It’s worth removing any nipple jewelry before long-distance walking and running workouts. Pierced nipples are often a lot more sensitive and this makes them more likely to get irritated over the grueling hours of running.  

Take five

If you’ve already got a case of jogger's nipple, don’t worry. It’s important to take some time off the track to give your body time to heal as further chafing could lead to an infection - and you really don’t want that. You may want to maintain your cardiovascular fitness with less friction-inducing exercises, such as cycling and cross-training during this time.

Treatment will depend on the severity of your injury, but in most cases, an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) applied to the area will help. You can also soothe sore nipples with an ointment like diaper rash cream. If you’re bleeding, gently clean the nipple and apply antibiotic ointment to the area. If the chafing is severe and you’re experiencing a lot of pain, swelling, bleeding or crusting it’s worth seeing a health professional or pharmacist.


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