How To Treat & Prevent Cycling Saddle Sores – A Complete Guide
Saddle sores are a common problem for cyclists. They form when the skin on your butt or surrounding area becomes irritated and inflamed. This can happen when you sit on the saddle for long periods of time or when your position is set up incorrectly.
Alternatively, the lack of chamois cream and poor quality clothing can also cause sores to form under the bum.
Since most cyclists deal with saddle sores at some point when cycling, this article is about helping people learn how to treat cycling saddle sores. We also discuss how you can prevent saddle sores from happening and why this is important if you cycle regularly.
What Are Saddle Sores?
You may have heard cyclists talking about saddle sores, especially if they are elite or professional cyclists. Saddle sores are painful skin lesions that often form on skin that contact the saddle. These are usually caused by chafing of the skin, ulcerations, furuncles, or folliculitis.
However, the most common type of saddle sore is caused by chafing. When parts of your skin rub against the seat when cycling, it can get irritated and begins to chafe. This results in redness and irritation of the skin. If left untreated, it can lead to ulcerations, which is one of the most common forms of saddle sores.
For some cyclists, they may experience far worse saddle sore symptoms, for example, ulcerations. Ulcerations occur when the skin has worn off (by chafing) or from the contact of your seat. These types of saddle sores are far worse, as they become highly vulnerable to bacterial infection and can make the cyclist struggle to sit on the saddle.
The most painful type of saddle sores is known as a boil. This is caused by an infected hair follicle, which can cause a fluid-filled bump to appear under the skin. Often these may develop into a pimple when the sore gets infected.
Most saddle sores are formed by excessive sweating and rubbing of the skin. Because of this, anyone that rides a bike is susceptible to developing saddle sores. However, you are more likely to develop sores under the bum when cycling if you ride long distances or spend multiple days a week cycling.
Other factors that can influence saddle sores include:
– Poor bike position
– Exposed skin to the saddle
– Poor saddle choice
– Saddle too high
– Poor quality bicycle shorts
– Increased body weight
– Poor use of chamois cream
What Is A Saddle Sore Cyst?
In some extreme cases of saddle sores, you may experience ischial hygromas (saddle sore cyst). These types of sores are usually located between the skin and bone under your pelvis, especially in areas that contact the saddle and hold most of your weight. These types of saddles sores form into fluid-filled cysts which can take days to heal. In some cases, they may need to be drained by a doctor.
However, these sores are usually more relevant in cyclists that train high volume rather than you hobby cyclist.
How To Treat Cycling Saddle Sores?
Luckily if you develop saddle sores from riding a bike, there are some home remedies you can do to find some relief from them.
Below are some simple ways to treat cycling saddle sores:
-Stay off your bike so the skin can heal properly. This can range from a few days to a week.
-Keep the area clean and dry to prevent further infection or irritation.
-Use topical ointments, such as antibiotic cream, haemorrhoid cream, or chamois cream. Using these can help prevent more irritation and soothe irritated and inflamed skin.
-Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help relieve any pain you may be experiencing
-Apply warmth to the affected area.
For most people, minor saddle sores don’t require any medical attention. However, if they won’t heal within a week, or the sores start to open and become painful, you may need to visit a doctor. Other things like pus and fever are more serious, so if you develop these symptoms seeing a doctor should be a priority.
For these types of cases, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics and/or topical creams. If a furuncle has formed, the doctor may decide to drain it together with some prescription medicine.
How to Prevent Cycling Saddle Sores?
Unfortunately, saddle sores can’t be prevented all the time. However, with the correct bike position, good quality shorts, and chamois cream, you can rapidly decrease the chances of one forming.
Below are some of the best ways to prevent saddle sores from appearing when cycling.
– Choose the correct width and shape of a saddle.
– Use chamois cream regularly
– Wear cycling shorts or bib shorts with an antibacterial chamois.
– Change your position when riding. This includes standing up regularly.
– Allow adequate recovery time between training sessions
– Wear clean cycling shorts on each ride.
When choosing a pair of cycling shorts, you must choose the correct size and the quality of the chamois. This can rapidly reduce the chances of chafing and inflammation under the bum when cycling. Make sure you sure chamois cream regularly to prevent any friction between your skin and the chamois.
If you still struggle with saddle sores often, it is recommended that you get a professional bike fit. A qualified bike fitter can help find the cause and put you in a more comfortable position that will prevent saddle sores and improve power and comfort on your bike.
How Long Does It Take For Saddle Sores To Heal?
For most saddle sores, they will typically go away after a few days away from cycling. However, deeper or infected sores can take up to two weeks to heal.
During this time it is recommended that you stay off the bike to let the sores fully heal. If you continue riding you may experience pain that will prevent you from sitting on the seat correctly or even cause a more serious saddle sore to develop.