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Chafing Buttocks: Here’s Why You Need to Take Chafing Seriously

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Feb 24, 2023

Chafing Buttocks: Here’s Why You Need to Take Chafing Seriously

Recently, a woman named Sam went viral on the social networking app TikTok after she shared her “wedgie” story. According to her, wearing tight shorts caused her to have a wedgie and experience chafing buttocks. This eventually led to a serious skin infection that could have been fatal if not treated immediately.

Chafing Buttocks: One Woman Shares Her Story

According to Sam, it all started because she chose to wear tight and high-cut jean shorts during a date. Since it was a pair of high-cut shorts, it caused the fabric to go up her buttocks, giving her a “wedgie.”

Admittedly, Sam felt uncomfortable and tried adjusting her shorts multiple times throughout the day. However, she chose to ignore it and had a great time with her boyfriend. Later that night, she felt sore and wasn’t feeling very well. The next day, she noticed a bump on her buttock where her shorts had chafed against her skin.

Over time, this bump started to become very painful, so she decided the next day to visit the doctor. By the time she went there, it was too late as she was already in septic shock, and wound up in the intensive care unit or ICU with both cellulitis and sepsis.

Doctors had to do debridement surgery wherein parts of her buttock were scraped to remove the infected tissue. Eventually, she made a full recovery and suffered no serious effects after the incident. However, this could’ve all been avoided had she worn more comfortable clothing.

Why Did It Happen?

One possible explanation as to why she had cellulitis and sepsis is because of chafing. This is a type of skin irritation where the skin rubs against something else, usually clothing, and causes irritation. Chafing can also happen when the skin rubs against other skin, or if the skin is rubbed against a coarse material1.

For the most part, chafing isn’t a serious problem. However, since it irritates the skin, constant chafing can cause sores, or as in the case of Sam, a more serious infection.

What Is Cellulitis?

Cellulitis, which was the infection that affected Sam, is a type of bacterial skin infection. This happens when certain types of bacteria enter broken skin cause infection. It usually happens through a wound or sores on the skin. But for Sam, it was her chafing buttocks that caused the skin to be broken, and for the bacteria to go in2.

The usual symptoms of cellulitis include:

  • Redness in the skin
  • Swelling of the affected area
  • Tenderness
  • Pain in the area
  • Fever
  • Blisters

The most common way of treating cellulitis is to take antibiotics. Though if the infection is severe, debridement or removal of infected tissue might be an option. For the most part, patients can fully recover from cellulitis. However, delayed treatment can quickly make things serious and can prove to be fatal.

How About Sepsis?

As for Sam’s other complication, sepsis or septicemia, this refers to blood poisoning caused by bacteria3. Just like cellulitis, this happens when bacteria enters the body, and in this case, infects a person’s bloodstream.

Pneumonia, skin infections, urinary tract infections, and infections of the gastrointestinal tract can all lead to sepsis as a complication. This is a serious life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Symptoms include a high heart rate, fever, vomiting, light sensitivity, lethargy, cold hands and feet, and extreme pain or discomfort.

Treatment for sepsis comprises of antibiotic treatment, treating the source of infection, as well as oxygen and IV fluids to help support the organs. In some cases, even dialysis might be required.

How Can You Prevent Chafing?

Here are some ways to prevent chafing:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing
  • Use powder or anti-chafing products if you need to wear tight clothes such as workout clothes
  • Avoid clothing with coarse fabrics
  • If your skin chafes, let it heal and avoid placing any rough fabric over it

By following these tips, you can reduce the chances of chafing and more serious skin problems.

Learn more about Skin Health here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Martha Juco, MD


Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Feb 24, 2023

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