Saddles Sores Prevention and Treatment

19 May

Bit of a funny one this time but it wasn’t funny for me at the time. I was training for the bike leg of the Outlaw iron distance triathlon last year (112 miles) I really struggled and also had a close friend that struggled with an MRSA infection and saddle sores. I originally submitted this to IMtalk but it came up on the TriTalk forum and I posted it there so thought I’d post it here too. It does get a bit grim so be warned. But not as grim as it was for me!

High 5 – Preventing Saddle Sores

1) Wear Good Shorts – No skimping! If you’re going to cut corners then
shorts are not the place to do it. Buy the best that you can’t quite
afford! The further you ride the better they should be.

2) Use Chamois Cream! – Lube up downstairs before riding As for brands
well it’s got to be ASSOS. Except no substitute, it made rides much
more pleasant and the gentle tingling sensation was quite fun too.

3) Saddle – Get one that works – Saddles are hugely
personal, don’t except an uncomfortable perch that rips your
undercarriage to bits . I went through different 5 models before
finding nirvana with a Cobb Cycling V-Flow MAX. Have faith there is
one out there for you!

4) Anti-Bacterial Wash when you finish riding. – 25% or more of the
population carry MRSA without any obvious symptoms, if that gets into
broken skin then sores and boils can result, it’s also highly
transmissible so clean down with an antibacterial wash after riding.

5) Wear loose clothing when off the bike – let it air! – Bacterial
loves warm, damp, sweaty conditions, let the boys breath and wear
loose clothing post riding to dry out and get some air to the areas
concerned. Tight fitting lycra can cause further problems maybe a
situation where compression tights are not such a good idea straight

6) Saddle height can cause problems – Get a bike fit, rocking hips and
squiming around on a badly fitting bike can cause skin to become
damaged and infections can result.

High 5 – Treating Saddle Sores – Particularly if you keep getting them.
(note this is written in the UK so reflects British Medicine)

Hopefully if you follow the advice given in part 1 then you won’t need to carry out the following but if you are getting recurrent problems then you need to take it seriously.

1) See a doctor sooner rather than later – can show initially as small red itchy lumps or big whiteheads particularly if they are growing in size. Standard treatment is antibiotics and dressings. It’s also worth getting swabs taken and analysed as some bacteria are pretty resistant to some common antibiotics. In the worse cases you may need to get them lanced or even cut out. if you get badly infected then this is pretty serious. I know people who have been sent to hospital for surgery in sensitive areas!

2) Don’t squeeze them! This can drive the infection deeper into the skin and cause worse problems. Riding your bike is not going to make things better when you have sores and REALLY hurts! Laurent Figion didn’t loose the 1989 Tour de France because of Lemond’s Tribars, he lost because he had a very badly infected saddle sore and could barely sit down…

3) Topical Antibacterial Wash is your friend. Prescription or over the counter skin wash for serious acne is good.

4) Anti bacterial Bath Emollient is good if bacterial cultures have taken hold, this to kill any colonies. This can also be available on prescription from your doctor

5) All sheets, towels, clothes (especially underwear) should be washed HOT! and in some cases of reinfection it may be worth throwing away and starting again. Don’t wear your best boxers!

6) When they are soft and oozing then you should avoid the swimming pool – as in any case were you have an open wound – don’t be a fool in the pool! However hot baths and gentle heat (not directly applied) can soften the sore and help it ooze out faster.

7) MRSA and bacteria is highly resistant and transmissible. If infected disinfect your house, don’t share towels and washing stuff, wash your hands frequently. If you have a partner /family and you’re getting recurrent problems then they should also start using antibacterial wash and scrubs to avoid passing it back to you.


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