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  1. #1
    eternalvoyage
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    Saddle sore prevention approaches; IOS

    Saddle sores seem better prevented than treated. Once they form, they are a pain, and a pain to deal with. And they can seriously disrupt a trip. If they can be prevented from forming in the first place, it seems like a much better way to go.

    One approach is to prevent tissues from becoming more susceptible to infection.

    If pressure is kept on those tissues (the tissues that are smashed between the bones and the saddle), blood cannot circulate normally. If the oxygen supply to those tissues is inadequate, the tissues are weakened, and are less able to fend off infections. They can then become much more likely to admit the formation of saddle sores (which are one form of infection).

    "Tissue ischemia" is the medical term; but it just means restricted blood (and so restricted oxygen supply) to the tissue:

    In medicine, ischemia (Greek ισχαιμία, isch- is restriction, hema or haema is blood) is a restriction in blood supply, generally due to factors in the blood vessels, with resultant damage or dysfunction of tissue.

    ***
    No blood, no oxygen, no healthy tissues....

    A recipe for infection, through inadequate oxygen supply.

    ***
    Moving around on the saddle, standing once in a while to restore blood flow and oxygen supply to those tissues, stopping and walking around a bit, perhaps a brief massage of the area once in a while: all these things can prevent the restriction of blood supply from becoming problematic.

    One source indicated that 3-4 minutes at a stretch was as long as the blood supply should be cut off. (This makes sense -- living tissues and their cells need frequent supplies of fresh blood and oxygen...) So standing or shifting around, or somehow promoting or restoring blood flow every few minutes makes a lot of sense.

    ***
    There are probably additional approaches that help prevent saddle sores, too. Preventive antibiotic ointments are sometimes used.

    It seems best to keep the tissues healthy, though, and then to use other approaches as supplementary, on that foundation of healthy tissue.

    Good hygiene certainly seems important.

    Any other good approaches to preventing saddle sores out there?

    What are the best antibiotic ointments, and are they worth using even if the tissues are not allowed to become ischemic, and are kept in good health?

  2. #2
    Life is short Ride hard
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    My best recommendation for saddle sores is bring a pair of gym shorts sans undies and take a afternoon off to rest or make it a light day. I do not like to bring creams and ointments one I feel old and I do not like creams in my underareas and they always make a mess of the shorts.
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  3. #3
    Craig A. Lebowitz lebowitz's Avatar
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    I use bag balm at the first sign of a hotspot, you can get a 1oz tin to put in your saddlebag

  4. #4
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Udder cream is also a good choice and you can get it at Walmart for 99 cents a tube!
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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    Senior Member permanentjaun's Avatar
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    It sounds to me like the creams are really only there to help with the soreness and not actually solve the problem. As the OP stated, good practice of shifting or relieving pressure every couple minutes is better.

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    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by permanentjaun
    It sounds to me like the creams are really only there to help with the soreness and not actually solve the problem. As the OP stated, good practice of shifting or relieving pressure every couple minutes is better.
    Shifting, relieving pressure and the creams reduce friction and serve as a barrier cream at the contact points and will pass sweat out, but shield you from a damp chamois
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    My methods to reduce the chances of saddle sores are:

    #1. I ride a bicycle that fits. If your saddle is too high or low it can cause problems.

    #2. I use a leather saddle (Brooks) which breathes and conforms to my shape. It is now a custom saddle.

    #3. I wear shorts that are not too tight and not too loose, with padding that covers my sitbones.

    #4. On long rides, I switch between my usual lycra shorts to padded cotton cycling shorts to beach shorts and back to lycra shorts, etc. I'm mildly allergic to lycra and I have a nasty reaction to it on hot days. Switching to cotton cycling shorts or beach shorts give me a break.

    #5. I keep myself clean with those antibacterial gels and wet wipes on long rides.

    #6. If the ride is particularly hot and wet, I use some sort of cream (non-zinc diaper rash cream mainly)

    #7. If I do develop a bit of a rash, I use a fairly good quantity of zinc oxide diaper rash cream when the ride is over (before bed), and it is all cleared up in the morning.


    Over 100,000 kms, and only one saddle sore.

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    During the MS150 I found that stopping at the break points and getting of the saddle for a couple of minuets helped. Also when I felt a hot spot/numbness starting i would stand up for a min or 2.

  9. #9
    jwa
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H.

    ***
    No blood, no oxygen, no healthy tissues....

    A recipe for infection, through inadequate oxygen supply.
    ***
    There are probably additional approaches that help prevent saddle sores, too. Preventive antibiotic ointments are sometimes used.

    It seems best to keep the tissues healthy, though, and then to use other approaches as supplementary, on that foundation of healthy tissue.

    Good hygiene certainly seems important.

    I think at least as important as ischemia for healthy tissue is local trauma - i.e., chafing. Infection per se is a secondary issue, developing hours/days afterwards. The time it takes for introduction of germs until problems appear - the "incubation period" - is much longer than one's typical ride unless, I suppose, one typically rides the RAAM.

    Antibiotics, good hygeine, etc are helpful because microtrauma breaks down natural barriers to infection, allowing germs which are "normal" (or, at least, acceptable) on the skin surface to penetrate beneath the surface & cause problems. Decreasing surface bacterial counts decreases the likelihood of sub-surface penetration.

    Using lubricants while riding (chamois butter, vasaline, etc) works but is too gross for me, at least for everyday rides. But lubricants with any active ingredient, be it vitamin E, antibiotics, cocoa butter, or whatever, will decrease irritation.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H.
    Saddle sores seem better prevented than treated. Once they form, they are a pain, and a pain to deal with.

    Any other good approaches to preventing saddle sores out there?

    What are the best antibiotic ointments, and are they worth using even if the tissues are not allowed to become ischemic, and are kept in good health?
    I have suffered terribly from saddle sores over the past couple of years as I've gotten into riding more often & farther. Sores that had to be lanced TWICE by a physician, rounds of antibiotics, etc.

    I'm on my 6th saddle because where the sores were forming was where the inside of my thighs met my buttocks. All the saddles were dimensioned such that the same area was getting irritated. For a while I put vaseline on the hot spots before a ride. Also washed with antibacterial soap after a ride.

    Now I'm on a Brooks B17 with about 100 miles on it and the saddle is wide enough that where the sores were forming is no longer under pressure. I think Machka's list of preventative approaches is pretty much spot on. My mistake was ignoring them until they represented a medical condition - they didn't hurt so I didn't think much about it.
    centexwoody
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  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    My methods to reduce the chances of saddle sores are:

    #1. I ride a bicycle that fits. If your saddle is too high or low it can cause problems.

    #2. I use a leather saddle (Brooks) which breathes and conforms to my shape. It is now a custom saddle.

    #3. I wear shorts that are not too tight and not too loose, with padding that covers my sitbones.

    #4. On long rides, I switch between my usual lycra shorts to padded cotton cycling shorts to beach shorts and back to lycra shorts, etc. I'm mildly allergic to lycra and I have a nasty reaction to it on hot days. Switching to cotton cycling shorts or beach shorts give me a break.

    #5. I keep myself clean with those antibacterial gels and wet wipes on long rides.

    #6. If the ride is particularly hot and wet, I use some sort of cream (non-zinc diaper rash cream mainly)

    #7. If I do develop a bit of a rash, I use a fairly good quantity of zinc oxide diaper rash cream when the ride is over (before bed), and it is all cleared up in the morning.


    Over 100,000 kms, and only one saddle sore.


    I'll add one thing to this list ....

    Ozonol (or a similar product). Ozonol is an antibiotic ointment with a pain killer in it. I think Polysporin also has a similar product on the market. I will, on occasion, use a teensy dab of it in a place (or places) where I'm feeling a bit of irritation which has the potential of developing into a small saddle sore. You don't need to slather it on, I just use a dab about the size of ... ummmm ... one of the bulbs in my taillight ... or about 1/2 a pea. One tube of Ozonol lasts me a very long time.

    I carry the Ozonol with me on just about all my rides. Not only is a dab of it good to ward off saddle sores ... but it is also very good for road rash. On my recent crash, I had to stop to buy bandages large enough to cover my knee, but I had my Ozonol with me. I used a fair amount of it then (not just a teensy dab) ... its antibiotic properties helped protect the knee from developing infection, and the pain killer properties dulled the pain of the road rash. And I was able to finish my ride. I've used it before, on my tour of Australia, for exactly the same thing. I rarely ride without it!!


    Oh, and while I'm talking about dual purpose products like Ozonol, I also carry baby wipes with me (like I mentioned in #5 above). They are great for a mid-ride wipe down in the areas where you might develop saddle sores to get rid of the sweat build up and generally clean the area. They are also wonderful for cleaning your hands if you've had to do some bicycle repairs. I keep quite a large bag of them with my bicycle repair tools/equipment at home, and I carry a small packet with me on rides. If you've never tried them for that purpose, get some! Just one note - the really thin "Wet Wipe" type don't work as well as the thicker "Baby Wipe" type. I've even wiped my bicycle down with them to remove dirt and grease from the frame.

  12. #12
    jcm
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    Machka Knows.

    As a real Sweat-Hog, I suffered until I started using Brooks saddles. A decent pair of cycling shorts+Brooks has eliminated any hot spots that cause sores. I don't use any creams or salves during a ride. After a ride of 80+ miles, I might dab on a little neosporin after a shower - then, total nervous collapse for about eight hours. Hygiene is everything. Julius Ceasar made sure his troops were fastidiously clean while on campaign for a reason, including in the nether regions. He basically set the standard for modern field hygiene, while knowing nothing about bacteria.

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    jcm
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    I must, again, absolutely agree with Machka on the Baby Wipes thing as well. I carry three ziplocks with 6 wipes in each bag on every outing. Just part of the regular kit. If you find that you need to go to the restroom, they are especially good for taking the 'clean-up' to the next level...

  14. #14
    sth
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    So while we are on topic whats the verdict on wearing undies under the padded lycra? I do and I am sure it is a no no but I just cant seem to get into the commando thing in bikes shorts.

    On the treatment front I use Penatin at night.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    I hate to ask, but are saddle sores essentially severely infected pimples on one's rear or where the leg and the hind end meet?

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    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp
    I hate to ask, but are saddle sores essentially severely infected pimples on one's rear or where the leg and the hind end meet?
    Yes and no. Saddle sores are areas that become 'hot' from friction and sweat. If you don't alleviate that, then it progresses to a rash or even a raised area that becomes very tender. Certainly, a hair folicle can become clogged with sweat and get infected - causing a pimple. That can happen in the fold you are describing as well as elsewhere.

    This is why I recommend a leather saddle to so many people. The leather has characteristics that keep you dry and relatively frictionless.

  17. #17
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by sth
    So while we are on topic whats the verdict on wearing undies under the padded lycra? I do and I am sure it is a no no but I just cant seem to get into the commando thing in bikes shorts.

    On the treatment front I use Penatin at night.
    I would say "fine", as long as you are comfortable. I sweat way too much for that, and learned quickly.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sth
    So while we are on topic whats the verdict on wearing undies under the padded lycra? I do and I am sure it is a no no but I just cant seem to get into the commando thing in bikes shorts.

    On the treatment front I use Penatin at night.
    Verdict = no undies

    I too was turned off by the commando thing until trying it. Now I can't imagine going back. It feels good, and no undie lines!

    `Course, it puts special emphasis on making sure that your shorts are kept clean, but you should be doing that anyhow.
    Last edited by markewallace; 05-02-07 at 07:24 AM.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp
    I hate to ask, but are saddle sores essentially severely infected pimples on one's rear or where the leg and the hind end meet?
    That's what mine became and they are bad juju to this cyclist's karma...

    As suggested I finally sprang for a leather saddle (B17) and the problem seems to have gone away or at least I'm not having any recent problems. Now if I can just get it adjusted and it will stay in place, I'll consider it the perfect saddle.
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  20. #20
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by centexwoody
    That's what mine became and they are bad juju to this cyclist's karma...

    As suggested I finally sprang for a leather saddle (B17) and the problem seems to have gone away or at least I'm not having any recent problems. Now if I can just get it adjusted and it will stay in place, I'll consider it the perfect saddle.
    Adjustments issues aside - we all have individual ones - I suggest that you keep the saddle slick. That's a big part of why they are better from a sweat build-up perspective. Even if you have treated it with some of the various effective concoctions, you will do well to polish it every once in a while with clear boot polish. Keep it very firm to the hand and let it form to you by itself, by riding.

    Why? It's the micro-movements of the rider that lets air in between the saddle and the pilot. That's why you stay drier on a Brooks, and subsequently suffer less sores and hotspots. If the saddle gets 'grabby' it will loose some of it's airiness. Another reason not to use some of the oil treatments that soften leather. I know, I know, there are tons of exceptions, and few rules, but a firm/slick saddle is best when we talk about sores and irritation.

  21. #21
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp
    I hate to ask, but are saddle sores essentially severely infected pimples on one's rear or where the leg and the hind end meet?
    They can be. I usually get the very early beginnings of saddle sores more in the middle where the legs meet the torso. But those have never gotten bad enough for me to consider them "saddle sore" ... more like a rash than anything else.

    My worst saddle sore ... the one and only one I would actually classify as a saddle sore ... was located in a different place and was caused by riding in loose shorts in the rain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    Yes and no. Saddle sores are areas that become 'hot' from friction and sweat. If you don't alleviate that, then it progresses to a rash or even a raised area that becomes very tender. Certainly, a hair folicle can become clogged with sweat and get infected - causing a pimple. That can happen in the fold you are describing as well as elsewhere.

    This is why I recommend a leather saddle to so many people. The leather has characteristics that keep you dry and relatively frictionless.
    Hi Everyone,
    I was also thinking about sweaty hairs , so I ask how about shaving down under , maybe the hair is causing the friction
    eat sleep bike think dream

  23. #23
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    hair reduces friction. Thats why we still have it in funny places.

  24. #24
    It's true, man.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueTwo
    Hi Everyone,
    I was also thinking about sweaty hairs , so I ask how about shaving down under , maybe the hair is causing the friction
    I thought it was for retaining moisture and facilitating cooling.

    With shaving comes sharp-ended stubble, ingrown hairs, and daily upkeep - all things I don't want to be bothered about on a tour.

  25. #25
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    An interesting point: I've noticed the Brooks is 'slick' but it certainly doesn't bother me. I elected to wrap black electrical tape around the rungs so that if I needed to send it back, I could. But now I need to pry the tape off & really get it locked into the right place.

    Shoe polish sounds as good a polish as anything. I've got the Proofhide but haven't needed to treat either top or underside of the Brooks yet.
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