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Saddle Sores... please help!

bymcbikerbymcbiker Posts: 5
edited September 2012 in Training, fitness and health
Hey all,

I know saddle sores are an overly raised topic and there are hundreds of posts on them. Apologies for raising the topic once again but I'm pretty desperate. It's been about a year and a half since I got my first sore and nothing I have tried since has worked. I have tried many many different methods of managing the sores but they keep coming back and it's really hindering my training routine cos I have to lay off the bike anywhere from 3-7days at a time if the sores are bad. None of the 100+ cyclists in my cycling club seems to have a problem this persistent and none of my 10+ close cycling buddies even have to use chamios cream, even on 4hr+ rides!

Here's some details on my riding/sores:

Ride frequency: Total daily commute of ~20miles, Training rides 3-4 times a week of anywhere between 20-80miles. Average weekly training mileage of ~150-200miles. 1-2hr sets on the trainer 2-4 times a week depending on the weather.

Riding Style: High cadence at ~95-100rpm.

Main sore type/frequency: For rides between 1-2 hrs, sores appear ~20% of the time, for rides between 2-3hrs it's ~50% sore occurrence and anything above 4hrs is 100% sore occurrence. 90% of the time it's skin redness/irriated swollen patches from chaffing. Occasionally I do get the pimple/boil type but that's easily taken care of.

Main sore area: Groin area, left side specific. My left leg is my dominant leg and I'm convinced it has something to do with my sores, however, I've had my fit checked by a professional fitter and the computer did not detect any imbalance in my hip/knee movements that would cause left side specific sores.

Current Practice:
Taking a shower pre ride, swabbing the chamios and my groin area with alcohol swabs, applying liberal amounts of chamios cream on myself as well as the chamios. I've have also tried reapplying mid-ride for 3-4hr+ rides to no avail.

Post-ride practice:
Taking a shower within 10-15mins of getting back, applying moisturizer and anti-inflammatory creams if necessary.

Current chamios cream:
Udderly Smooth

Past tried and failed creams:
Vaseline, Assos, Hammer Chamios cream, Chamios Butt'r, regular running anti chafe stick, baby lotion, baby powder. I've even tried mixing and matching.

Current bib-shorts:
Bontrager Race bib, DHB Race bib. Bontrager sport shorts as undershorts for commuting.

Past tried and failed shorts:
Won't name brands but I have tried 4 other brands.

Current Saddle:
Fizik Kurve Bull, it's the most comfortable one I have used, no aches, no pain at all, doubt the sores are from my saddle. I went through 2 other saddles in the last 2 years to get to this one.

So as you guys can see, I've been pretty busy over the last year trying to manage my saddle sore issue and everything I'm currently using is a result of that research and trial/error, but it's merely "the best I have gotten so far". I'm still far from preventing or solving the issue and if anyone has any advice it would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

Bryan

Posts

  • Seems to me that for a guy with such a bad sore problem you haven't tried out enough saddles. My current saddle - a WTB Rocket - is comfy and still gives me a sore if I ride for more than a couple of hours. My previous one - a Fizik Gobi - was less comfortable but then I never got a sore.
  • sheffsimonsheffsimon Posts: 1,282
    That sounds fairly uncomfortable...not long since cleared an epic groin rash myself, using antibiotics and an antifungal/antibacterial cream, both on prescription. Took a few weeks to clear completely. Get yourself to the docs would be my advice. SInce then Ive used assos cream, which is antifungal/antibacterial, on longer rides.
  • use Canesten after riding and even before if you want. Sounds like thrush which Canestan clears quick. If you use the wrong stuff on it, it will never go. Believe me, I am an expert on Thrush.
  • bymcbiker wrote:
    90% of the time it's skin redness/irriated swollen patches from chaffing.
    Probably of no relevance but I get precisely the same symptoms from stiff shirt collars*. It's down to woosey skin on my neck, and...
    bymcbiker wrote:
    Taking a shower pre ride
    ...the one thing's absolutely guaranteed to ensure an evening at a hot, sweaty wedding reception leaves me looking like the result of a failed attempt at garotting is to take a shower immediately before donning the shirt. If I give it a few hours between shower and shirt I'm usually fine unless it's an uber-sweaty environment. Am just wondering whether by showering before each ride you're making things a bit worse by softening up the skin before it takes a beating.

    * No, not on my groin.
    Mangeur
  • dw300dw300 Posts: 1,642
    Do you suffer from dermatitis or eczema? I do, and it's my own sweat that makes it flare up .. so I treat that with Dermovate steroid cream when necessary.

    I used Sudocreme for general moisturising and avoiding infection .. it's an antibacterial cream, and it's very persistant, by which I mean that it doesn't get absorbed or disappear as quickly as other cremes.

    AFAIK .. saddle sores are what you get when chaffing becomes infected. If you are cleaning enough for that not to happen, then chaffing is your problem, and that's a friction thing. I'd say you need to experiment more with shorts, bike fit/saddle position/saddle type. censored shorts were my main problem (now using Sugoi Race Series), and tilting saddle down and moving it back slightly helped ease things too.
    All the above is just advice .. you can do whatever the f*ck you wana do!
    Bike Radar Strava Club
    The Northern Ireland Thread
  • My take is that you are probably stripping fat from your skin with the washing & alcohol. keep clean by all means bt don't overdo it. And I would definitley see a GP or even a dermatologist to ensure you don't have some persistent fungal infection the groin is a warm damp area most of the time and a very nice growing ground for all kinds of bacteria and fungal spores.
  • johncpjohncp Posts: 302
    +1 for getting some professional assessment ie doctor. If you still want to have a go yourself, I'd second the idea of an antifungal cream - canesten is fine - or maybe an acne cream such as quinoderm which has some reasonable antibacterial properties - it's also worth knowing that it will bleach your best undies and if it strays on to the meat and two veg it may sting a bit!
    I had a miserable few weeks at the start of the season and tried all the things you've mentioned in terms of shorts, lubrication etc, but it was canesten that fixed it in a few days
    If you haven't got a headwind you're not trying hard enough
  • Hey guys thanks for the replies. Sorry for the long reply, tryna address everyone's points at 1 go.

    Regarding saddle choice, what I meant when I said "I went through 2 saddle before this" was that I rode through 2 main saddles before my current one. What I did at the start was try 3 different saddles(because I hated the arione which came stock with my bike) and ended up on a Bontrager Affinity RXL. I rode it for abt 8mths til I hit a huge pot hole and the plastic securing one of the rails cracked. Then I tried a couple of different ones after that, settled on the selle italia max slr, rode it for abt 10mths til I wore out the cover quite abit, then tried a couple more and finally arrived at the Kurve abt 4-5mths ago. I have probably tried out about 9-10 different saddles since I started road cycling 2 yrs back. Off the top of my head the ones I have tried are: Fizik arione, antares, Bontrager affinity rxl and inform rxl, Selle Italia max flite and max slr, prologo nago and fizik Kurve. My choices of saddles usually come down to 1) how much support it gives my sitbones, 2) if it makes me go numb down there after long rides. So far the only one that gives me no pain or numbness whatsoever is the Kurve. For saddle position, after the last 2 yrs of riding, I have settled on a slight downward tilt on all my saddles, anything flat or above causes me almost immediate numbness.

    As for seeing a doctor, I totally forgot to include that in my original post! I've seen 2 docs regularly for this problem, first is the GP I regularly see for the random cold and stuff, he told me to stop using dettol body soup and I switched to cetaphil, he also prescribed me bactroban and most recently a hydrocortisone cream. Bactroban is amazing for the occasional pimple/boil type sore, and the steroid cream seems to be working decently for relieving the redness. I also regularly consult my uncle who is a dermatologist and he told me that some ppl are just born with sensitive skin and since I had asthma as a child, asthma being an immune disorder, it is not uncommon for my immune system to overreact to skin irritants and the only thing I could do about it was "Continue using whatever your GP has been prescribing, it sounds like the right stuff, be more vigilant with your prevention routines" and the worst part... "Maybe try to cycle less often, like cut your frequency in half" yea I know... not the best news... considering my goal is to find a solution that allows me to continue with my training at the same frequency sans the sores...

    I guess the main problem for me isn't the how to get rid of sores once they happen, the doctors seem to be spot on with that. It's how to prevent them that has me stumped. I take back what I said about it not being my saddle, it could well be my saddle cos it seems to me from your replies that my problem is mainly friction, which leaves 3 avenues, chamios cream, saddle choice and shorts. Saddles and shorts are too subjective to ask for recommendations so I'll just try a few more on my own. For cream, does anyone have any recommendations for creams that last longer than 2-3hrs? Personal concoctions are welcomed too. I read that applying on both myself and the chamios works for longer rides but it only lasts a couple of hours for me. Could I be using too much? I go through an 8oz tub of udderly smooth every 3weeks, sometimes 2.

    Thanks again for your time guys!

    Bryan
  • what ever cream you choose to use you need to treat the area ALL the time not just in conjunction with riding - and yes giving cycling a week off to let things heal properly might be worth considering
  • First of all, ouch, i feel your pain!

    I started to suffer with Saddle sores for no apparent reason, no change of saddle, no change of routine or weather .... however GF had changed soap powder this could have of been the reason.

    I was given some advice which worked for me "Preperation H" after you have washed after a ride dry off and liberally apply prep h.

    This worked for me almost immediatley i have also started the habit of using Chamois Cream (assos) and now never get a problem.

    I do believe that cleaning the area with Alcohol is over kill and can only lead to more pain, simple soap and prepH all the way for me
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    Just a thought, have you tried riding with NO chamois cream, could it be the cream that is causing the issues, with your skin reacting against that. I have started riding recently without a chamois cream ( I was get persistent spots and boils), and it has made it a whole different and actually more pleasent experience, so if you haven't tried give it a go without cream and see what happens.

    If you are getting swollen areas then that is likely to be a pressure issue I would imagine, normally being rubbed red raw would indicate a chaffing/rubbing issue. Also check saddle height and make sure you are not rocking side to side when pedalling. Easy quick check to make is sit on the bike, with your heel on the pedal and make sure you can pdeal backwards without leaning or rocking whilst doing it, and your heel stays on the pedal.
  • ju5t1nju5t1n Posts: 2,028
    SBezza wrote:
    Just a thought, have you tried riding with NO chamois cream, could it be the cream that is causing the issues, with your skin reacting against that. I have started riding recently without a chamois cream ( I was get persistent spots and boils), and it has made it a whole different and actually more pleasent experience, so if you haven't tried give it a go without cream and see what happens.

    If you are getting swollen areas then that is likely to be a pressure issue I would imagine, normally being rubbed red raw would indicate a chaffing/rubbing issue. Also check saddle height and make sure you are not rocking side to side when pedalling. Easy quick check to make is sit on the bike, with your heel on the pedal and make sure you can pdeal backwards without leaning or rocking whilst doing it, and your heel stays on the pedal.

    This is good advice. My dad is allergic to lanolin - which lots of creams contain. Try using nothing at all for a while. And a non-bio detergent to wash your shorts.
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    ju5t1n wrote:
    And a non-bio detergent to wash your shorts.

    And try and use a longer rinse cycle if your washing machine has this function, to make sure all deterent is rinsed out of the shorts.
  • Where are the sores located? I get all my problems in the crease at the top of my leg almost always on my right hand side. So not under my side bones. With me it is chaffing caused by too much fabric in the pad/crotch area of bibs. Eventually on a long ride the fabric becomes damp and I feel it start to rub. A narrower and thinner pad has sorted my issues out. A 3mm increase in saddle height and making sure the bibs are f.tight round the crotch has also helped me, although changing the pad size was hands down the biggest step in reducing friction.
  • what ever cream you choose to use you need to treat the area ALL the time not just in conjunction with riding - and yes giving cycling a week off to let things heal properly might be worth considering

    Yep, whether I have a sore or not I use a moisturizer after every post-ride shower(which is twice a day, everyday, cos I usually ride twice a day). As for taking the week off, I do take days off when the sores get bad and I have taken a coupla weeks here and there to allow for full recovery etc. The problem with that is at the rate I'm getting these sores, if I had to take a week for every sore I got, I basically would only be riding once every 2 weeks and would have to drive to work, cos that's how often I get them. I do understand that this is a "well you chose to ride so pay the price" situation, but I'm just hoping there's a way to manage it better, that's all.
    PompeyPaul wrote:
    I do believe that cleaning the area with Alcohol is over kill and can only lead to more pain, simple soap and prepH all the way for me

    Yea u r right, maybe I'll lay off the alcohol swabbing for awhile, thanks!
    SBezza wrote:
    Just a thought, have you tried riding with NO chamois cream, could it be the cream that is causing the issues, with your skin reacting against that.

    Occasionally when I'm in a rush I don't use cream for my commute, but almost every time I do that I get slight redness on the left side by the time I get home. My commute is only about 30-40mins each way. I also stopped using Assos cream specifically cos I found that while it was great when I had no sores, the minute I had the slightest redness, using it would make it worse even on my short commute rides. Been using Udderly Smooth for a few months now and so far no irritation, just that it don't last too long =(.
    SBezza wrote:
    ju5t1n wrote:
    And a non-bio detergent to wash your shorts.

    And try and use a longer rinse cycle if your washing machine has this function, to make sure all deterent is rinsed out of the shorts.

    Ah I never thought of that, I usually handwash my shorts with detergent + antiseptic wash, I'll do a longer rinse the next wash, thanks! =)
    twoshots wrote:
    Where are the sores located? I get all my problems in the crease at the top of my leg almost always on my right hand side. So not under my side bones. With me it is chaffing caused by too much fabric in the pad/crotch area of bibs. Eventually on a long ride the fabric becomes damp and I feel it start to rub. A narrower and thinner pad has sorted my issues out. A 3mm increase in saddle height and making sure the bibs are f.tight round the crotch has also helped me, although changing the pad size was hands down the biggest step in reducing friction.

    Yes! If I understand it right, you have sores in the exact same location as I do, cept mine's on the left side. I'm actually in the process of switching to 3D foam type padding and getting tigher bibs. Some of my older shorts use a pad inserted under the chamios fabric and over time the pad flattens out and fabric stretches and starts getting bunched up and chafes like crazy. Will definitely consider buying shorts with less padding, thanks!
  • Sounds like you need to try more shorts. Try some good ones like castelli who have several types of really good pads (careful of there sizing though-their large is more like medium). Also try without cream like some have said, might be causing a reaction.
  • dw300dw300 Posts: 1,642
    +1 for better shorts and not stripping all your skins natural oils off. Oh and trying a different chamois cream.
    All the above is just advice .. you can do whatever the f*ck you wana do!
    Bike Radar Strava Club
    The Northern Ireland Thread
  • +1 for thoroughly rinsing shorts, non-bio powder, not over washing skin - try vaseline for simple protection or something thicker like Nuetrogena? And avoid lanolin - which many people are easily irritated by
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