Mistakes I have made with saddle sores

I just wanted to share a mind dump and trigger some pause for thought as I now sit and struggle with a saddle sore that has become more persistent and now requires complete rest to try and heal.

If you read through this forum and look for answers or solutions to a bad saddle sore, the recommendations range from very sensible and safe to downright stupid and dangerous. The sane, rest early and often, check your bike fit and don’t take things too seriously through to the “lance it yourself at home, keep riding and toughen up” on the other end of the spectrum from sane to not.

The issue at hand is that people don’t do what is likely the most sane and sensible thing to do which is take some rest. The persistent fear of losing some fitness or the idea that we have to train for our goal event is toxic, and even worse defining ourselves by the quality of our training, pushes us to do stupid thing. For the vast majority of people on here, including myself, sport is not our profession, it’s not our job and it’s not a matter of life or death. Even the pros often point out that they set themselves back attempting fast returns from illness or injury, and we copy it.

I, like many others on here I’m sure, take great pride and associate a large part of my self worth with my cycling performance and general fitness. Having taken 4 months out last year due to a significant injury, being back on the bike has been a huge triumph for me and something that should be euphoric, but right now I’m a month into a battle with a saddle sore that now has my head spinning, very reflective and very frustrated at the situation.

So, the mistakes I have made:

  • Not taking rest at the first sign of saddle sore discomfort - this is something that sounds obvious but if you are someone who is in a cycle of slight saddle soreness and regularly see minor irritation come and go, it becomes habitual to just ride on.

  • Not re-washing the new seasons kit when you rotate through seasons. I’m not positive, but I have some hunch that when I’ve switch from my spring kit to my summer kit (e.g my tights to my summer bibs) I’ve ended up putting on some bibs that while “clean” should have been rewashed when coming out of the cupboard where they’ve sat for the whole winter.

  • Not getting a bike fit - I went and got a bike fit off the back of this current saddle sore situation and while saddle pressure mapping didn’t give away a slam dunk cause, it did show a lot of lateral movement across the saddle from a saddle height that is too high and a compete lack of foot stability under the balls of my feet. I obviously don’t know if fit changes will help me yet, but my fit was not dialled at all and had gone very stale.

  • Fiddling with bike fit at home, an excuse to ride on - I made the mistake of fiddling with my position over multiple rides as a way to experiment with fit and try to alleviate aggravating the sore - each time I did this was a search to find relief without taking the most simple step and resting, and even included trying some different saddles on my bike (see my earlier posts about measuring my sit bones, I should have just been resting)

  • Not seeing a doctor. I now have, who has started with the basics of rest, compress, ice, topical antibiotics and onto oral antibiotics, I’m unsure if these will work, as I feel the sore is more a pressure issue then an infection, but rest and trying some simple steps makes sense.

  • Not seeing a dermatologist - I have not done this yet, but that is the next step if additional rest doesn’t bring this nasty sore in to line, a lot of folks try and self diagnose and there are a lot of different types of issues that can go on “down there”

  • Taking it all too seriously - there’s a theme here I’m sure you can read - we probably all need to step back, take a breath and ask ourselves if we’re taking things a bit too seriously,


1: Rest and recovery. I used powder and kept the area clean and dry. I didn’t totally stop riding, but did swap saddles.

2: On washing your kit: be careful what detergent you are using, and make sure it rinses out well. Don’t use fabric softener either. I use ASSOS’ detergent and sensitive Tide interchangeably, and do three rinses and extra high spin. Things are very nearly dry, and there is no residue/bubbles in the door threshold.

3: Yes a bike fit is important, but you can make some adjustments yourself. I nearly always swap a shorter stem for instance, and have a perfect cleat position, and saddle setup that was confirmed by a rather worthless fitting once. (Check that angle and keep an eye on it over time)

4: Again, treat the injury with warm showers or a bath, keep it clean and dry, and use lotion or cremes before riding. Fiddling with bike fit: Make only ONE CHANGE at a time, and measure what you changed. However also look at how you are on the bike, and take a good deal of time to asses whether you actually feel comfortable on it. Too stretched out, too cramped, too uncomfortable?

5: Not seeing a doctor? Unless it’s bleeding and infected, a saddle sore is not going to need a physician’s care. I had bilateral sores and (unfortunately) am married to a physician, and she laughed. ‘It’s not falling off, so change something, or stop riding’. And also like I’ve said already: She reinforced to keep it clean and dry, and either adjust the position on the saddle, or replace it. (I was using a saddle that had very little padding, and riding for hours every day, and also didn’t realize that the seat position was moving slightly because of a poorly designed seat clamp) She did say that if it got much worse, it would develop into a medical problem. (People in ‘care facilities’ get pressure wounds a lot, and they do also often get infected and can kill them. Seeing people with sores that expose bone and tendons is horrific, and the pain can be excruciating, so don’t take it lightly, but do things you can do before it gets that bad)

6: Seeing a dermatologist is going to be interesting. I’ve heard of people having injections recommended. Yeah, um… Your saddle is riding on a spot on your butt with little padding over a hard bone. Adjust the saddle to move that pressure to another area, and ‘get a different saddle’.

7: Oh yeah. One other thing my wife said was that I was spending so much time with my ass on a vinyl covered brick, rocking back and forth, riding my bike on a moist and obviously abused butt. It was a ‘perfect setup’ for problems. Yeah, I took about a week off, and religiously cleaned and powdered the spots. In the end, fixing the saddle issues helped so much. Keeping it clean and dry certainly did too. Hot water helped incredibly too. I actually got to the point where I was still riding during my recovery. I just found different spots to abuse.

What hit me was how quickly the spots developed (or I totally ignored them) and how they changed some of the things I did. I tossed some underwear that rode right over those spots. I couldn’t wear some of the ‘normal’ shorts because of where pockets rode while I was walking. Even my jeans caused issues with my wallet at the worst of it.

Hygiene, new saddle, adjust your position, some time off, be good to yourself.

Oh, one last thing that I discovered: I was allergic to the chamois cream I was using. Yes, seriously. I told someone at the LBS, and after laughing nearly hysterically said that was unusual and likely very painful. YEAH. NO KIDDING!! I’m embarrassed it took me so long to make the connection, but if you use a product, maybe consider swapping brands for a while. (I use the ASSOS cream, and it my butt seems to really like it)

I’ve mentioned ASSOS a few times, but don’t receive anything from them at all. I just tried to find a better way, and found products that seem to work well, for me. Don’t be afraid to try new products.

OH, also, how old are your shorts/bibs? I also replaced some of my bibs, and found the ‘Wahoo edition’ from Le Col that had a thicker pad and fit very well (and then they dropped them and, well, the quest for bibs like those continues. Old bib pads lose all resilience and essentially go flat, losing any cushion or absorbency)

Good luck! Saddle sores sure are a PITA…


Thanks @robcow, great thread! I do think to some degree having a spouse who is a doctor is sort of like seeing a doctor :wink: I think part of the point of asking and seeing a physician for care is that they have some awareness of the tail risks associated with issues at hand, for example I don’t think a physician would ever recommend lancing the wound yourself at home! They also might remind you that you may be over thinking things. “Have you stopped training for a bit?” being a very sensible question to ask!

Your point on bibs running out is spot on, and also a reminder that saddles run out, cleats run out, and even those expensive insoles from a bike fit can wear out. I think as a general rule I’m quite good at rotating out old kit but I have been considering how to do that more systematically, for example date labelling the labels of new bibs so I can more accurately track their life span, as I tend to buy a lot of repeats of the same model it’s not always obvious visually.

I enjoy the process of sharing on the forum and appreciate people’s insights, but for every 10 people who has said there issue rides out and is fine over time there is 1 person who says they got into a real pickle with injections, removal, etc, so I am definitely being cautious. I’d rather throw away my entire season than throw away every season


A great shout on the allergies too. My friend ruined a long ride when he came out with a sample of some chamois cream form Rapha on once, he had to go home in tears

@DaveWh posted here that they wipe the sore-prone area with alcohol before and after every workout. I’ve been doing this for the past 5-6 months and I haven’t had a single saddle sore. This is a change for me. I don’t know if it’s coincidence, or the alcohol wipe before and after really helps.


Thanks @BrianSpang - one thing I ask myself is how much I should be doing pre/post and what is a crutch for an underlying issue (e.g poor bike fit). There are folks who just seem perplexed by these issues (e.g the no chamois cream crowd) which has me questioning the basics of stability and fit on the bike.

I’d got to the stage where I felt similar to you this season, and my recipe was a little smidge of Nocxema on my shorts, a second fan behind pointed directly at my under carriage, a rocker plate and sometimes a little extra chamois cream mid ride.

Perhaps the answer is more hygiene (maybe a wash before the ride) or maybe it’s bike fit. At this point I’m willing to do as many things as possible, but also aspire to not need to!

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After hearing Chris Horner recommend Noxzema on his channel I tried it. Great results. I use way more than a smidge. I even tried the, 1/2 cost, Walmart generic Noxzema and it’s not as good. At $5 per tub, the real stuff is a deal and lasts a long time.

Assos shorts really cured all my saddle interface issues. Their pad is incredible.


After hearing Chris Horner, I’ve been on the Noxema also. Between the alcohol before and after and the Noxema, I’m claiming victory over the sores (frantically knocks on wood).


As you can imagine I am particularly upset because I had also declared victory with the Noxema and then got punched in the gut by a big one.

I have a full week off now and if things don’t progress I will be getting some more physician support in play and will report back

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Is the right name noxzema?


Are you using the noxzema pre-ride or post tide?

@Pablo_ie yes Noxzema is the brand name. It’s a cleanser so technically something you use to wash yourself, but Chris Horner put a video out a few years back saying to use it like a chamois cream, so a smear on the bib shorts.


Just a warning that may or may not apply to others. I’ve found Noxema to be the only saddle cream that doesn’t seem to fully rinse out in the wash. I use Assos and it comes out no problem, but Noxema seems to get caught in the seams in the chamois and leave behind residue. Obviously, a lot of other people love it, so ymmv.


Sounds like the ‘European’ style chamois cream which I use exclusively. The ASSOS cream is a European style cream. It has menthol and some other stuff in it, and I’m not allergic to it! A HUGE WIN!!

Yeah, taking the bibs off can be a ‘refreshing’ experience. :flushed: But I’ve never had an issue using that stuff. I even used the European Butt’r, but (butt) that was what I was allergic too, after suffering way too long thinking it was bib pads and saddles. :roll_eyes:

Swap bibs between rides on multi ride days, and don’t sit around in wet bibs too long. That and I use a ‘baby wipe’ pre-ride to prepare ‘down there’ for the experience. Someone said it doesn’t work, but after the saddle sores and chaffing I’ve had, the combo of the wipes and European creme is worth 10 times its weight in gold. I on;y have problems when I forget the creme. (Dude Wipes are one brand that is like a ‘European creme’ style wipe. Very zesty! :smile: Keeps things clean and prepared for the ride soon to follow :+1:)

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It has its moments. People at a previous job were curious if I ‘got the good stuff’. Yeah, like all doctors have that around the house. What a bunch of A-Holes…

And I’ve learned some of the basics: Don’t pop it, yank that bandaid, Neosporin and a bandaid can work wonders, no it’s not supposed to turn black (and using that as a way to get an appointment is not going to work well), don’t try to out gross an EM resident, you don’t want to be in a position to need a doctor on a plane ride, keep cuts and scrapes clean, and that most doctors don’t have a good sense of humor, and anything you tell them will end up in your file and popup eventually to haunt you. :person_shrugging:

She looked at the sores I had and said ‘They look like they hurt’. Yeah…

Trying to remember the process, but it took me nearly/just over a month to get rid of them. It got so bad that sitting anywhere hurt like hell, and it was starting to effect walking. Yeah, why go half way when you can make yourself really uncomfortable. OUCH!! :roll_eyes:

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I do a quick hand wash, scrub and rinse on the chamois with liquid detergent before I put them in the washer.


I’ve posted this before, but repetition doesn’t spoil the prayer …

If you have access to this (not sure if it’s available outside of U.S.) I would highly recommend. Much more gentle than straight alcohol, but still has a little bite. I apply after every ride. Haven’t had a saddle sore in years.

I kind of treat my undercarriage in the same way I treat my face after I shave … which, if you think about it, seems like it makes perfect sense. Good luck to all…


FWIW, the only time I’ve had a problem was when trying chamois cream. I’ve tried cream a couple times and it always made things worse down there :man_shrugging: Probably sounds bizarre to some of you, but absolutely true.

What works for me - snug fitting bibs with a wider & dry pad, plus a narrow saddle :+1:


I used to wipe with rubbing alcohol down there after a ride (when I don’t have sores). Always seemed to keep them away.
I used to use chamois cream religiously, but I haven’t in years. I’ve come to learn that chamois cream helps if you’ve got sores, but isn’t necessary to prevent them.

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