Day in the Life: Shower, Chafing, & Jock Itch

Ah, the morning shower.  Warm water to get the kinks out, bright overhead heat lamps to help wake me up, and the daily question: shampoo & condition or just rinse & condition?

To explain: I have naturally curly hair, which is also naturally fragile hair, which I’ve made more fragile by coloring it. Some recommend that you don’t use shampoo at all, set it with clips, airdry, use a diffuser, et cetera.  I could spend time and money straightening it, but frankly I don’t have the patience. My hair is a bit like my body in that it takes some specialized care, and I’m working with it instead of trying to negate it.  ;)

But back to my shower.  How does being very fat affect showering?  My belly doesn’t just stick out – it also droops.  So do… [hm, perhaps I should warn you that this is another frank post that may be a bit, oh, too much information for some folks...]

My breasts droop too.  I do have a handheld showerhead, which makes it easier to rinse under my belly & the girls. Using fixed showerheads when traveling does take a bit longer to get everything positioned and rinsed correctly.

After showering and toweling off, I lie down on the bed, lift up my belly “overhang”, and make sure the underneath is dry.  Then I sprinkle some talcum powder in the fold and brush it about to cover the skin.  I usually brush some powder under my breasts and where my legs meet my torso, too.  I try not to use too much – I still blush at memories of powder falling out on the bed with a new beau – but I definitely want enough that I can move freely without causing chafing.

Why do I do this?  For years I had horrible yeast infections & jock itch in the folds of my skin. Especially under my belly, but also under my breasts and in the crotch.  Not only were they icky and smelly, but at their worst they’d provide a constant level of pain whenever I moved, which resulted in me limiting my mobility.  I do keep Lotramin spray & powder on hand to deal with the occasional flare-up, but the talc is the best preventative I’ve found.

After ensuring that my underbelly will remain dry, I wash my hands and get out the moisturizer. I’ve had dry skin since I was a child – one of my earliest memories is feeling a parent’s warm hands rubbing moisturizer into my back.  Wiping moisturizer onto my arms, breasts, belly and legs not only prevents itching (ick!) but is an act of self-care.  (I also massage moisturizer into my feet before putting on socks.  My feet work hard & I like them!)

Then it’s time to start fiddling with my hair.  :)

Updates and more info:

In July 2009, Well-Rounded Mama posted a much more in-depth discussion of jock itch, skin yeast, and related infections and their treatments.

Intertrigo treatment and management.

WebMD on Intertrigo.

On the more serious end, Skin Integrity in Critically Ill Obese Patients discusses the care of skin, wounds, and so on when immobilized due to critical illness or surgery.

56 thoughts on “Day in the Life: Shower, Chafing, & Jock Itch

  1. I don’t think I’ve commented on your blog before – just wanted to say that I love it, it’s really awesome that you’re sharing your life with all of us :)

  2. I can certainly relate. Thank goodness for talcum powder and handheld shower heads. I used to get rashes under my belly and breasts from not thoroughly rinsing the soap away. Talcum powder, handheld shower heads, and changing what I was washing with (I use baby wash or baby bath) has helped my skin a lot.

  3. For years and years I had really bad boils under my breasts and on my bottom. My doctor suggested (along with losing weight of course) I had some sort of blood disorder and prescribed a six month course of antibiotics. Despite being fat I am very healthy and always have been and I resisted the impulse to take drugs over an extended period of time.

    I started using talcum powder for exactly the reasons you described above. The added bonus, apart from comfort, was that the boils cleared up completely. I found that the issue was caused by bacteria on the skin and in folds of skin that didn’t naturally see the sun. Once the moisture on the skin was dried away by the talcum powder the problem disappeared completely.

    I had that problem for about ten years and didn’t deal with it because I was so ashamed of being fat and felt I deserved the discomfort as punishment for my diet. Duh! What a moron.

  4. I’m so glad you posted about this; I’m a big girl too and just recently started having the belly fat “droop and chafe” problem. It’s so embarrassing that it took me awhile before I could even tell my husband!

    Question: when it first showed up, how long did you have to treat with the Lotrimin spray and powder before you could move to the preventative maintenance phase with the talcum powder?

  5. I don’t exactly recall. I recall I was sore with a wet jock itch rash under my breasts one summer (aka itchy hell) and I tried using talcum powder to absorb the wetness and let things move. I thought it might make things worse in the long run, but would be worth it if I got some short-term relief. To my surprise the talc cleared it up!

    I generally switch to the Lotrimin powder (which contains talc, and tends to clog a bit) when I have jock itch for a few days, which clears it up quicker than the baby powder talc on its own.

    I find using the talc after *every* shower or bath, or at least morning and evening will clear things up faster and usually prevent any recurrence. But I generally skip the evening application if I don’t have an active infection.

    (Oh, does anyone else get it in their belly button? That’s where the spray is a godsend! ;)

  6. I’ve been using talc under my breasts for years – I have a rack o’ doom. I learned it from my mum, who is a big woman with large breasts.

    I can’t imagine not using talc – in fact if we’re going to the in-laws for a spa I will usually take my talc with me!

    I used to use the regular baby-powder-form-the-supermarket kind but I switched a few years ago to an organic kind and I like it sooo much better… plus I don’t smell like a baby any more LOL.

  7. Handheld showerheads are a must for me too, but when I travel, I find that a good washcloth works a whole lot better than lifting and splashing water. Seriously, I had a “duh” moment when I fretted about getting all the soap off and preventing the dreaded itch of doom while we were traveling…

    We were in Mexico and I was showering in this beautiful tile tub that was square and deep…like nearly thigh high (I’m 5’10). I literally spent 30 minutes trying to make sure all the soap was off me (hotels are notorious for using water softeners which makes shampoo and soap more bubbly) when I saw the washcloth sitting on the towel rack. Voila! I grabbed it and rinsed and rubbed, rinsed and rubbed. The washcloth helped exfoliate my skin and all soapy residue was gone in a jiffy. I was 41 when I learned this! Oy!

  8. Oh and one more thing…..boils. I gots em. They are caused by the staph virus (as I recall) and I can go a year or two without getting them, or just minor ones…almost like a flare up. The largest one I ever had was about 5 years ago and was under my arm in the folds of my torso. It was the size of a tennis ball! I went to the dr and he gave me a ph soap like phyzene and told me to keep it clean. He didn’t even try to absess it to relieve the excruciating pain! When I got home, I had my hubby hold a mirror while I twisted and contorted my hands around to grasp this monster and relieve some of the pressure. With barely a touch, the thing oozed a river of (insert your favorite word for grossness here) down my side and I had instant relief.

    My hubby actually high fived me for that one! He gets off on the gross stuff…thank God!

  9. Corn starch can substitute, if your lungs are affected by the talc. A powder puff can make it easier to apply, too. (a small piece of the material they use to make fluffy stuffed animals works great, and can be washed often)

    and I love tea tree oil for serious itch, or a salve/ointment with comfrey for slight itchies. One drop of tea tree on my little finger keeps away the belly button itch for months, generally.

  10. Wow.

    Thank you.

    i sense my breasts and belly are going to be much happier having learned this.

    Also, thanks for sharing, because I, like Lisa, really didn’t want to ask my dr about it. even the one who has never mentioned my weight being a problem.

    so, thank you. seriously. you rock. and the TMI hasn’t scared me off either. :-)

  11. It’s possible that some boils are not bacterial but are actually Hidradenitis Suppurativa. You can read all about it at hs-usa.org. It’s thought now to be partly autoimmune, partly hormonal, though there really isn’t much known as to what causes it.

    I’ve had it since puberty and was told it would go away if I lost weight. That was when I was 15. I felt so much shame I didn’t tell anyone else about it until a few years ago, when I was diagnosed. And you know what? You can be skinny and have HS. Here’s hoping this helps at least one person not suffer in silence and shame.

    • I get them too,but I notice mine usually pop up around my cycle. Not every one but usually with my hardest ones. But I have to say since I switched to cloth pads,my cycles aren’t that bad anymore,and the flare ups not so often anymore.

  12. I get the belly button thing pretty badly, too, and if it’s hot and I’ve been out gardening and doing yard work, the sores under my breasts. I have psoriasis, though, so I always just assumed that that’s what it was, and my over-the-counter psoriasis gel actually does a pretty good job at clearing it up. I also always do the corn starch between the inner thighs – otherwise I get acne and chafing like crazy!

  13. Girls, I gotta thank you for all of this. For years I’ve had what I called ‘bra rash” under the rack o doom, and it never occurred to me to use talc. (Yeah, sometimes I’m slow) And this totally explains why the lotion wasn’t cutting it ! Duh!

  14. Your TMI is always welcome.

    Yes, yes, yes to hand held showers to wash all the nooks and crannies. When I travel I try to reserve a “handicap” room because the bathtub will have grab bars and many times a hand held shower.

    Cornstarch baby powder works wonders keeping the crease under the belly dry, sweet smelling and itch free.

  15. I love your TMI. I get chub rub between my legs and thought I was a deformed freak for years. The fatosphere’s candidness made me feel so much more normal AND gave me a solution! (I use BodyGlide, as talc wears away too quickly if I use it on my thighs: http://www.bodyglide.com/)

    I love your blog!

  16. this is an old post, but thanks for sharing! i’m a fatty under 300 lbs. and i still have trouble showering and rinsing without a detachable showerhead.

    i have hidradenitis suppurativa, i’ve had it my whole life, even before i got fat(ter). i tried a lot nof different ointments and drugs but finally with diane 35 (a hormonal birth control) it has cleared up. i never had an oppurtunity to be too ashamed about it to talk to my doctors, because i started getting it when i was young enough that my parents still helped me bathe.

    like abby said, although it is sometimes suggested that weightloss will improve hs, it’s not really proven. people of every size (although predominately women) can have hs. there’s not need for shame.

  17. Yes, the bodyglide is excellent for chafing! (you can also order it on amazon or get it from sports supply stores – sadly I became allgergic to it after about a year).
    Also, for powder, I use gold bond – it hangs on longer and is more cooling than talc or cornstarch.
    Fabulous blog – thank you, I think you’re doing something really generous for other women.

  18. Thanks for the talc hint. It’s been a hot summer here and I’ve been getting a nasty rash under the gals, though thankfully not under my stomach. I’ve been washing and drying very carefully every day, and putting a dab of Canesten on when it’s bad. I get it occasionally in my belly button too, and got it even when I was much thinner. Just the misfortune of being curvy…

  19. Hi, I just wanted to say that, yes, I have this problem too. It was so bad. My Dr. said it was a yeast infection under my breasts (they are big and it gets moist, etc. etc.). So the Dr. told me to just use the same stuff as I would for a vaginal. Take the cream and rub it around. Anyways, this works on a major attack, but they would just reoccur. I used baby powder as maintenance, but the regular kind didn’t help me. Baby powder with the cornstarch works fine…but the best thing…was the straight cornstarch & it is so much cheaper than baby powder. I haven’t had a flare up for over a year.

    Thanks so much to all of you for sharing your stories, because I was embarrassed and had no idea that I wasn’t alone.

  20. Hmm . . . excited to think that powder would do the trick — currently I apply anti-persperant to all those locations, even though the packaging says “only for underarm use”. However, I can usually get away with applications every 2-3 days . . .

  21. I use Alpha Keri Lotion after every shower, without exception and have never had a problem again. I recommend it to everyone.

  22. HI

    If you do not have a shower I would suggest to go to the auto section of a department store and get a large shammy to use as a washcloth. It is great for washing a wide back and holds a ton of soap and water to clean and rinse around the groin and tummy

    William

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  24. Great tips, thanks ladies. Also try taking a piece of 100% cotton fabric that is CLEAN and place it in the folds. I will help absorb the moisture. I use cut up tee shirts or even cut up my cotton panties when they wear out. I have even used cotton handkerchiefs both under my breasts and the fold of my stomach.

    Keep clean and cool ladies.

  25. I’m new to your blog, it’s great by the way..

    Anyway, I used to use powder, but got sick of the mess with it.. I switched to Monistat’s Soothing Care, Chafing Relief Powder Gel.. You can find it at most drug stores.. It’s like $6.00 for a tube of it, but it lasts awhile and there is no mess. Best product ever invented!

  26. Are you aware that you are a Godsend to SO many women? Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am just over 300 pounds and I have had this probem of skin excoriation for years. The skin literally peels off during hot weather. The odor at these times is literally enough to knock a person over. During these times I stay home, stay as cool as possible and as clean as I can. I find the hand held showers are a terrific help. I discovered this after having shoulder surgery a few years ago. Since I started using the hand held, and thorougly rinsing off the soap with a washcloth, I have had NO problem with the odor and excoriation. I also use a powder puff, a large one, and apply powder. If I start to itch, I go take another shower and start over again. And to make sure I get ultra clean in the genital area, I use a very soapy net cleanser meant for washing the back that comes with a long handle. Now there is No part of me left unwashed!
    Once again, thank you so very much for sharing with us your very personal problems and solutions.

  27. I know that I am posting very late on this topic, but I am very large as well, almost 400 pounds and the only thing that helps me is diaper rash cream in my creases. I put some between my thigh creases and under my belly as well where my butt crack starts after I take a shower and I have NO worries about smell, skin infection, or rashes. I use desitin rapid relief and it smells wonderful. Even I get too lazy to put it on, and get a skin infection, the desitin cream will just about cure it in 24 hours. Best stuff ever!

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  29. I’m late to this as well, but I have to agree with April–Desitin is the bomb! Every time I go home for a visit, I bring 2-3 LARGE tubes of the stuff with me, because I haven’t found anything in Oz that is even close. I’m at 118kgs (260lbs) but I have a lower ab fat roll that has a pretty deep crease under it, so I get the whole fungal infection that is “greasy” and smelly underneath, and oh it burns so bad. Once the infection has flared, and it’s red raw with a slight raised edge, it burns like fire and then itches like nothing else when air hits it. (oh God, I hate the way it feels, very slimy and the smell simply makes me sick.) In the summer I occassionally get it in my bellybutton too. Have never had any drama under my breasts or in the groin.
    But, I have something else I use–Rexona. it’s a spray anti-persperant. I spray it in under my belly and in my belly button. Not a lot just a quick one, and it not only seems to keep the fungal infection at bay, but I remain completely dry. However, I have noticed that Rexona is the only brand that works.
    Don’t know if I’m just “special” or if it would work on anyone else.

  30. Wow, this post just made my day. I have had jock itch for a while now and haven’t been able to cure it with anything. I have tried homeopathic, creams, powders, etc. I’ve always been a bigger girl (over 200 lbs.) but never had this problem until I moved to Florida. I had a roommate a few years back who used to be very large and she always used baby powder after her shower and I never thought of using it. I thought I was the only one with this problem. It is terrible and I was very ashamed especially since now I’m married and my husband knows about it. But its reassuring to know that I’m not the only one and there is something I can do about it.
    Thank you for you writing!

  31. Desitin and diaper creams can help because they contain zinc, and zinc inhibits yeasts. Gold Bond anti-itch cream or powder works the same way, with zinc added to the powder. Doesn’t feel as nice as corn starch or talc, but it sometimes works better because corn starch can actually feed a bad yeast infection. I like to switch them out and use different powders on different days.

    Different kinds of creams use different kinds of meds. Lotrimin’s med is different than Tinactin, etc. If one kind doesn’t work for you, try another, or rotate several kinds. Personally, I prefer Tinactin (tolnaftate).

    Interestingly, acupuncture can also be very helpful if you have consistent skin yeast infections. Balances the hormones and the energies or something like that. However it does it, it does help some people.

    There are lots of other possible treatments, from hard-core medications to folk remedies to alternative treatments. I wrote about them on my WellRounded Mama blog, which is linked to above. The trick is to try a number of different options and see what works best for your particular needs.

  32. I have always had a rash under my stomach and in between my thighs, the first time I can remember it was when I was 7 it hurt so much!! My mom used Destin(SP?) and it didn’t hurt anymore. I’m now 20 and haven’t had pain but it has always been discolored and smelled really bad, I dry off every time i shower and by the end of the day it smells again. I have tried multiple things, never talc or itch powders, thanks for the suggestion. I also lived on a farm for many years, where we milked cows. To wash the cows off and prevent their udders from becoming raw and painful for them we would spray them with iodine, so one day i got a cup full and brought it back to the house and after showering, I went to my room and put some on it and did it for a few days and it was cleared up, not completely, and the color never went away but it didn’t smell anymore, I don’t know where I can get the iodine now and was looking for something else to use!

  33. Instead of straight Iodine, try to get some Betadine. It is sold in the drug stores and in Walmart, places like that. It is used as a surgical scrub because it kills germs That kills the odors. I hope this helps the woman who had the odor problem.
    I also love this blog! It has helped me so much in so many ways!

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  36. I added another step to this. When there is a bad itch, I blowdry the skin. It helps clear it up faster. On hot days, I might also do this multiple times (always on the cool or low setting) during the day, as well as after my shower.

    Worth a try.

  37. Hey girls! I’m with y’all…have suffered from what y’all are calling “jock itch”, yeast infections, fungus, etc. for about three years now. The OFFICIAL medical diagnosis is INTERTRIGO!! I suffered in silence due to embarrassment for nearly three long years. IT got so miserable (even after trying all the tricks mentioned) and was popping up in more places…that I finally sought out help from a female (cause that was comfy to me) DERMATOLOGIST! From what she told me, it’s frequently worsened or “colonized” by infection, which most commonly is candidal (yeast) ….but also may be bacterial, fungal, or viral! BEST doc appointment ever…mine IS Candidia Intertrigo and is persistent! Now when I start getting itchy (typically is the warmer months) in my arm pits, under my belly “apron”, the folds of groin/crotch area, booty crack, toes, corners of mouth, etc….I start taking a fluconazole pill (it’s the same active ingredient that would be found in the cream for yeast infections) but much more potent and I take it for typically 5-7 days. And, of course, I have an OIL based OINTMENT (not cream…it wears off to easily!!) for immediate itch n burn relief. Soooo worth it….since starting this regimen last summer, I’ve only had ONE flare..which is a huge improvement for those of us that repeatedly suffer from this. The other thing I’m religious about….drying my folds with either a blow dryer (on cool) or in front of the fan in the summer…keeping those areas DRY is key to keeping stuff from “growing” in those places. HERE”S A WARNING FOR YOU…. find out WHAT you are truly dealing with (most on here are describing Intertrigo to a T!) The doc told me that powders, creams, etc, can actually CAUSE the “colonization”…AKA cause the yeast to GROW!! …it basically traps the fungus from my understanding. THAT is what I was doing, unintentionally, of course! Yikes!

  38. im going through the dreaded underbelly sore thing, but i will try some of the things,it has been a very humid summer,and i always try to keep things fresh especially since being a diabetic,skin sores take longer to heal.thanks for the advice and not being afraid to tackle a very sensitive subject

  39. I suffer from the same thing under my breasts and stomach. I also use Nystatin cream for the yeast infections followed by Johnson’s Pure Cornstarch Powder to keep it dry. If it gets super bad, I have the prescription pills Diflucon (?sp.) to take orally. I just saw a product in a magazine that I am going to order … it’s a cotton Tummy Liner and Bra Liners … they are liners to place under your breast and bra, and a liner under your tummy and then you put your underwear on. The Tummy Liners are 3 for $9.99 if you search Google for Tummy Liners and find the cheapest seller … there are some sellers who sell them as high as $19.99. I can’t wait to order some and try them!! My bathroom always a a white powder film on the floor … it seems when I put it on, the furnace or a/c kicks on and the vent air blows it everywhere!! I try to keep it wiped up, but no matter what, I use my baby powder every day and every night!!

    • I find a damp washcloth or baby wipes are good for wiping up the baby powder. You know that sticker they put over the dispenser holes on the baby powder container? I never pull that all off — just half. Helps me to have more control so I don’t use more than I need.

      I haven’t had to take oral meds. :(

  40. I get HS cysts every few months. Sometimes they come one right after the other or more than one at a time and all in my delicate areas. I am upwards of 375 pounds and have PCOS, diabetes, and insulin resistance (aka diabetes). I thought I washed well enough but today I now have a raging case of yeast in my folds of my groin, where the leg meets the body and up towards my belly. I can’t shower daily since it takes so much out of me, being cramped in a tiny shower so I bathe at least once a week. But I use adult wipes like baby wipes but with more texture (not baby wipes) to clean daily. Well I hadn’t done it yet today and I turned over in bed and felt pain (that oh so familiar pain) of where the skin gets stretched and it causes burning. So I checked and it was sopping wet and gross. So I quickly used some wipes to clean myself then immediately put on my Lotrimin AF powder. I guess I’ll have to stick to it for a couple of weeks. GRR. PLUS I”m on antibiotics yet again due to chronic toe infections. So that is probably what made it as bad as it is. If it doesn’t get significantly better soon I’ll have to see my doctor. I don’t want it to become a systemic infection.

    • Seeing your doc if it doesn’t get better is definitely a good idea. Yogurt relieves the tummy discomfort I get from antibiotics, don’t know if it would help with yeast infections :(

  41. So glad to have found another fat curly girl! I also absolutely love your blog, it means a lot to have someone talk about life as a fat person honestly and correctly.

  42. I was curious as an extremely large gal (400+ lbs) what you all use to wipe and clean effectively when you can’t reach well. I bought a set of curved “tongs” for lack of a better term to help with reaching to wipe, they work great but they’re big and they’re metal so carry them everywhere is impractical altho I do it anyway. As far as washing the cheap backscrubbers break too easily, I paid more for a long wooden handled one and it works but I still would like to hear what you all use for such situations.

  43. I have the jock itch problem too – exacerbated by severe psoriasis as well. I’ve had to use antifungals constantly for over 10 years. It sucks and now it’s just resistant to all of them.

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  45. Thanks for sharing! I’ve started using Squeaky Cheeks powder for this problem. It keeps me really comfortable during the day and is easy to wash off. You should give it a try :) It was invented as a powder for marathon runners but it works great for everyday life. http://www.squeakycheeks.com

  46. Body oil everywhere! Including under the breasts, under the tummy (omentum), and inner thighs. Works like a dream. I use organic jojoba oil. No chafing, no itching, no talc episodes!

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