Locker Room Talk

Dear Bikergang,

Let’s have a locker room talk

Ok, so I am going to talk about some of the issues that can crop up downstairs when you spin like a maniac. You might have experienced it, or maybe you are shocked to discover that this happens to others. This problem is real and it can be quite bothersome. What am I talking about?

A chaffed crotch
Irritation of your skin in your crotch region
A swollen sebaceous gland or cyst

Is this just for ladies? Nope, dudes get it too.

I chatted with a few of the motivators at YYC Cycle, and we discovered that we had all experienced some sort of annoying crotch BS. We suspect that sitting on that bike seat in sweaty, tight workout gear might be to blame.

I wanted to get the 411 from a medical professional so after a chat with my family physician I decided I should relay this information to you.

When you have a sweaty, hot region of skin that rubs against another sweaty hot region of skin, irritation occurs. Sometimes it creates a minor abrasion of the skin that will go away after a couple days of rest from the activity. But, if you keep up with the activity, infection and further abrasion can occur. In some cases, a swollen sebaceous gland can form. What is this you ask?

According to the medical encyclopedia ( a sebaceous cyst, also known as epidermal cyst is a closed sac of cells created under the skin into which a protein called keratin is secreted. These cysts are often the result of swollen hair follicles or skin trauma and are formed when the release of sebum, a medium-thick fluid produced by sebaceous glands in the skin, is blocked. They are harmless, often painless, slow-growing small bumps or lumps that move freely under the skin. And sebaceous cysts are usually found on the face, neck and trunk, but can occur anywhere on the body and even in the vaginal area or other parts of the genitalia of both women and men. In addition, acne could be a precursor to the growth of these sebaceous cysts.

My doctor said she would suggest a cream to bring down the swelling and help dry up the gland. She also said to never try to remove it or (gross) - extract it! Your body should eventually absorb the cyst, however a topical cream such as benzyl peroxide can help speed the process along.

So what to do about chaffing?

I found a miracle cream at Sport Check called “Skin Glide” and I swear by it. It has cut down the amount of chaffing I experience from spin to almost zero.
I also found that not wearing underwear decreases the amount of friction for the groin region (no undies party woop!).

What if I have chaffing or abrasions?

To limit the chances of bacteria growing or getting into any broken skin, here are some healthy practices to follow:

Change out of your sweaty workout bottoms immediately after class. Don't go for coffee, juice, or lunch until you have dry bottoms on!
If possible, shower as soon as you are able to rid your down south region of sweat, and bacteria
use an antibiotic ointment on the broken skin and avoid spinning if you can until the area has healed. Even 1 day off can make a huge difference
If you find any lumps or bumps, go to your doctor. Rule out STI’s (don’t worry, you CANNOT get STI’s from a bike seat) and address the swollen sebaceous gland with your doctor

Healthy habits to form regarding your workout clothes:

Wash your clothes as soon as possible. If you leave them in a plastic bag and you go to work, bacteria will continue to grow all day long. If you don’t have that option, try a fabric bag that breathes. Washing your clothes ASAP remains the best solution
Turn clothes inside out when washing
Spray a pre-soak or stain remover on areas that receive high friction - yes, the crotch of your workout pants. Stain removers are often tough enough to break down oils and sweat that trap odour and bacteria
Sniff test the clothes before putting them in the dryer. Otherwise you could ‘cook’ in the nasty smell with added heat
Add a cup of white vinegar to your wash, or baking soda to your wash. Vinegar kills bacteria and breaks down the natural oils left on your clothes. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer
Give workout clothes a sniff test after about 4-6 months. If they still wreak after the wash, it’s time to chuck them and buy new ones. Bacteria can hang around even after its been through a wash cycle. Plus, the oils in your skin mixed with your glorious natural musk and a generous amount of sweat creates quite a cocktail of EW!

If after reading all this you think to yourself “Wow, some people must really stink” well, its true. We do.

Let me know if you have other helpful tips to reduce ‘down there’ discomfort.
Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any discomfort that doesn't seem to go away.

Keep that crotch healthy and happy so you can spin forever!




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