I have a recurrent problem when riding in high humidity climate, either with hot or cool weather: after some hours riding, my nipples (in the chest, not in the wheel :o) get very sore from friction against the shirt's fabric.

It seems that it has to do with salty sweat, the waving-flag movement of the shirt fabric against the skin, and perhaps with cold causing nipple erection, further increasing the friction.

A more experient friend of mine has reported the same recurring problem, having even seen people bleeding from this.

So I ask if anyone else has suffered from this problem, and how I could expect to solve it. I am considering to take along some band-aids, but I think there could be some preventive measure before the band-aids be needed, in the first place.

Thanks for any insight!

  • As Kevin Spacey says in Horrible Bosses, "you can't win a marathon without putting a few bandaids on your nipples" May 20 '16 at 18:34

This happens to runners more than bikers but is the same thing you describe... friction.

I've done band-aids, tape and even special products (Nipguards) made for covering just the nipple area but the best remedy I've found is compression clothing. Even in the middle of summer, I will wear some skin tight Under Armour shirt. Heat Gear (odd naming, but actually cools the skin too) in the summer just to prevent friction between cycling jersey and the nipples. I'll switch to their cold gear during the winter, but always wear something skin tight under my upper layers.

  • 1
    I will definitely get one (under armour) if it makes my torso look that......
    – mattnz
    Dec 5 '12 at 1:37
  • Well, I'm not sure yet if this is an additional habit I want to have (using skin tight), but as you said, you tried different approaches and this one solved the problem best. Thanks for the info, I'll study the best strategy for me! Dec 5 '12 at 12:14
  • 4
    Don't click on "Nipguards" link at work...don't click on "Nipguards" link at work... click Dec 18 '12 at 21:54

I have had this problem when running (it's known as jogger's nipple). It's caused by friction when your top rubs against your nipples, moisture from sweat (or rain) tends to make it worse.

Wearing technical clothing that draws moisture away from your skin will help, along with some kind of barrier cream. Personally, I use bodyglide as I find it easy to apply, but vaseline or nappy rash cream should work just as well.

  • Good answer! The wikipedia link is pretty comprehensive! Thanks! Dec 5 '12 at 12:17
  • BodyGlide is the best option. does not stain, takes two seconds to apply, and works surprisingly well.
    – geoffc
    Dec 5 '12 at 18:18

Don't wear 100% cotton, it's a sponge for moisture and soaks up your sweat. They become heavy with moisture and this causes them to rub and chafe the skin.

You can easily find lots of t-shirts that are 50/50 cotton & polyester blend which helps a lot, they can still be a problem, but I find they stay dryer longer. I tend to really like the american apparel tri-blend track shirts for a better alternative (you can find cheaper tri-blend track shirts on amazon for about 1/2 the price). You could also get technical gear that is either 100% synthetic, including compression clothing (like under armor).

However, my favorite is wool. I have a couple wool t-shirts that I wear all the time since they breathe well and tend not to get saturated easily. There's a reason cycling jersey's used to be made primarily out of wool. It is also one of the best base layers to use in the winter since even if it does get wet, it will still be insulating, as opposed to many synthetics.

  • Thanks for the advice! I tend to use 100% synthetic (tac-tel) cycling jerseys, but as soon as I get my hands in some wool stuff, I'll give it a try! Dec 5 '12 at 13:48

Try Chafeaway for friction and chafing of the skin. It is an actual peel and stick body wrap. You can cut it to fit any part of the body. they sell it on Ebay...


I have the cure (I suffered with this same problem from biking). The cure? New-Skin Liquid Bandage, you can see it on Amazon. Regular bandaids come right off due to sweating. Liquid bandage forms a rubbery covering that will stay on. Works for me.


You could ride your bike without a shirt. This provides some advantages:

  • Less clothes overhead when on multi-day trip. One of my friends carries 5 t-shirts on each multi-day hike. That's more than a kilogram.

  • The ultimate evaporation - unmatched by any clothes. Furthermore, there is no clothe, which the backpack to press against the body and increase sweating.

  • Unbuttoned shirt serves the same effect, even better. The wind creates vortex in the shirt and cools even better than when naked.

Of course, there are some downsides:

  • Some people are uncomfortable showing themselves or watching others do it.
  • If riding all day in the sun, severe sunburn is a sure thing.
  • Marginally lower protection in case of a crash.
  • Only usable from about 15 C upwards.
  • 2
    Dangerous, unsightly for many, and also seen as rude in many places.
    – andy256
    May 17 '16 at 2:34
  • 2
    That is indeed a possible solution. Let's keep exploring for other possibilities though.
    – Criggie
    May 17 '16 at 3:29

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