Surf 101: Try These Tips to Prevent Board Rash

Board rash…we all hate it. It happens when there is repeat friction between the wax, board or even your swimsuit or rash guard and your skin. Board rash is an abrasion of the skin. The most common areas to be affected are your armpit, inner thighs, and rib cage. Think of where your body is repeatedly rubbing against….. like when you are paddling or sitting up on your board and laying back down

According to experts, “Sensitivity of your skin is huge here. It’s common for people who surf several times a week build up superhuman board rash resistant skin. For those weekend warriors, it’s common to get board rash every time we paddle out.”



We use surf wax to keep from sliding off our boards. It is made mainly of paraffin or bees-wax and it’s grippy and sticky. But it can also irritate the soft tissue on your stomach, chest and inner thighs that all come in contact with you board during a surf session. This repeated friction makes the skin red and can be painful. For wax irritation the best solution is consistent surf as your body become more tolerant. However, living in South Florida, this is sometimes impossible. So, the next best alternative is a solid rash guard.



Some surfers swear by vaseline, smearing it on affected areas. But experts suggest products like Neosporin, diaper rash cream, A & D Ointment, or cortisone cremes. An even better alternative is Headhunters Rash Guard Cream. Quickly apply this before your surf session and rashes will be a thing of the past.

There are also some holistic options out there for some DIY solutions:

  1. Calendula is a flower with antiseptic and antimicrobial properties and is most commonly used externally for wounds, burns, rashes, etc. It helps to soothe and rejuvenate the skin as a powerful, yet gentle healer. You can also purchase natural salves and lotions made from this.
  2. Plantains are a powerful anti-inflammatory with astringent properties. They have been used to draw out toxins, poisons, impurities, and infection from the skin when used topically. Consider making a pomade from plantains to help.
  3. Comfrey is another alternative that contains anti-inflammatory property and boosts the immune system. Comfrey can also be purchased in a cream and speeds wound-healing up,encourages new skin and promotes cell growth.

Often, board rash is just part of surfing and at the end of a great swell it simple become a battle wound with sweet memories of an epic swell (or at least we hope). Just keep in mind that if a rash ever becomes irritated, swollen, or extremely painful, then be sure to check with a doctor to prevent a possible infection.


September 15, 2019 — Cheyne Cottrell