Any doctors on board - salt water rash

I develop a burning salt water rash after ‘many’ hours of paddling.

On past ‘long’ trips (multi-month trips), I have developed a salt water rash around the stomach (where the sprayskirt comes in contact). I have made the situation better by using a ‘suspender’ type sprayskirt (though I need to mop more water after surf-breakout), but it still occurs to a lesser extent.

I never get the rash on normal ‘day’ or ‘weekend’ paddles.

Yesterday, I was testing my endurance (24 hour paddle), and I can tell - there is the ‘start’ of the rash. (in other words - if I were on a trip - paddling everyday, it would develop into a painful rash)

Any ideas on how I can solve or at least, make more comfortable - this problem?


* preventative (how do I ‘toughen’ my skin)

- rinse with fresh water after paddling (I do this)

- food, vitamins

- topical applications

* relief (after getting rash)

-calamine, other?

(related? - I’m one of those with skin that develops a rash from the neck gaskets in drysuits - looks like I’d been ‘hung by the neck’ the day after surf practice - luckily, no longer live in an area with a climate necessitating drysuits)


I was reading
the blog of a woman who it paddleing across the ocean. To avoid the saltwater rash she paddles naked . . . Just a thought.

Allergic vs irritation
Kind of hard to tell. Try bag balm or nipple cream for irritation. Benadryl could help if it is allergic rash. Just be careful as it can and will cause drowsiness.

Tight Shirt
I use the very thin Under Armor type shirts. They are very thin, fit skin tight, are cool, protect you from the sun and offer friction protection from jackets and skirts. You can find them cheaper in the off brands at the big chain stores.

Hydrocortisone 1% cream
Over the counter at any pharmacy. Apply liberally and frequently (several times daily) until rash disappears.

One example—

Generic is fine.

Hate to be a party "pooper"
But I hope it’s just from the saltwater.

probably heat rash

if heat rash is the culprit
maybe using a skirt that is breathable might help.

I live and paddle in a subtropical location and summers are pretty hot and humid. Since I have replaced my skirts with Reed ones (Chillcheater from UK) I have been a very happy camper… er, paddler.

Reed skirts are much thinner then standard neoprene and the fabric is very breathable. The material does not retain much moisture and doesn’t stink as much as neoprene. These days I don’t get all hot under the deck anymore and rashes that I used to get around my waste from the standard skirt don’t happen.

I still get occasional rash in the armpits but that’s mainly because of probably ill fitting rashies that have seams that rub. On multi days paddles I use a silicon cream and that does wonders for me. If possible, washing in fresh water at the end of the day also seems to help a lot.


yes, and yes
jsmarch -

thanks for the link, I think that may be it. I’d forgotten about the symptom: ‘superficial blisters and bumps (papules) that break easily but aren’t itchy or painful’. I would not get these until after a few days of paddling with the initial stage of the ‘rash’.

Gnarlydog -

Reeds ss: Yes, I recently started using one (Aquatherm - with adjustable Waist). I love it. (lightweight, keeps most water out under heavy conditions). However, it is still a bit restrictive around the waist. I still have one more Wildwasser ‘Solstice’ ss (that I’d purchased when it was discontinued) that I’ll use on an upcoming trip (and carry, a very compactable Reed as a backup). It doesn’t keep as much water out as the Reed (surf, rolls), but it’s a ‘suspender’ type (no contact with waist) - that does close up tightly. This is the type I used on a previous trip, and while it ‘mostly’ solved the probem, I would still get the rash.


make your own
Sprayskirts are not that difficult to make, especially for composite boats. When making your own you will have a much wider choice of materials, extra flexibility in terms of sizing.

Are you wearing a shirt?
Is this a neoprene/skin contact? or are you wearing a shirt and the spray skirt is over the shirt. The fact that you can paddle a day or two with no problem is good and you might be more normal then you think. Many people might get a rash on long expedition or marathon paddles. My first try would be to make sure you have a soft wicking fabric shirt against your skin with the spray skirt on top. I would also try powder on the skin too. Then when you stop for lunch, change into a dry shirt and some more powder.

Other than those type of things, an Allergist or Dermatologist would have to help you and even they would be guessing and trying all kinds of test to find the trigger.

Use to have a problem at the beach
The one week a year I get to the beach I am like a water rat. Surf fishing, kayaking, body surfing, just walking in the waves. And every year by the second day a certain anatomical area become HIGHLY chaffed (damned men’s swimsuits). Solution is Desitin for diaper rash (OK here come the jokes). The remainder of the week is problem free!


You might want to try an Akuilisaq

less contact with the body, which is probably where the problem is coming from.

You do not need to take any medication. It’s likely due to chaffing. This is common with surfers wearing wetsuits… use something like this before paddling(see link below), applied in the problem area. Lubricates the skin, problem solved.

I have had a similar problem with my neo skirt in the area of my hips.

Rashguard Shirt
As the name inplies, that is what they are for. Sold at surf shops

They are also for UV protection. I have started weaing one since I hate sunscreen, and just can not afford any more sunburns

Desitin ointment works, too
Hell, it’s made for diaper rash! Use it as a preventative where you get the rash before you paddle. It works.

>>Is this a neoprene/skin contact?

Not any more. On my 1st long trip (years ago), I used a neoprene skirt - that’s when it was the worst (and why I started using the Wildwasser Solstice (‘tent style’) skirt).

Then when you stop for lunch

yeah, that’s probably part of the problem - I usually don’t land for lunch (I’m in the kayak for the duration of the paddle day, typically 8-12 hours (on trips) )


The typical rash guard shirts irritate (salt encrusted after a few hours paddling), I’ve been using Coolibar ‘Swim shirts’ for a while now (some better results).