What Is A Rash Guard? 3 Reasons They Are Used

orange boat in the water

A lot of people love to swim and want to jump in the water without a care in the world. However, sometimes, it helps to have the right protective gear or equipment, including a rash guard. This might lead you to wonder, what is a rash guard?

What Is A Rash Guard?

surfer wearing full body rash guard

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Someone who's never heard of a rash guard before might think it's some sort of protective wear that prevents you from getting rashes. Though this isn't inaccurate, a rash guard is probably not what you would expect at all. So, what is a rash guard, exactly?

rash guard is a fitted athletic shirt that people use when they go into the water for any of a number of different activities, including surfing, snorkeling, and swimming. Typically, manufacturers make them out of polyester, spandex, lycra, nylon, or combinations of these textiles. These materials are ideal because they dry quickly, stretch out easily, and give your skin room to breathe.

You might wonder a few things, in addition to the answer to the question, what is a rash guard? For example, what's really the point of a rash guard? There are swim shirts, cover-ups, and wraps that people can wear in or close to water; what distinguishes a rash guard from these things?

A Brief History Of The Rash Guard

The original rash guard came from Australia, and its name came from its ability to protect the wearer against rashes. Originally, rash guards were almost exclusively made for men.

These men were surfers, for the most part, and the rashes they tended to get would come from chafing. Their skin would suffer from abrasion against the sand that could get caught in their surfboards or just against rapidly moving water.

Rash guards were very tight-fitting, making it so that they didn't rub against the skin at all and create abrasion themselves. Some people would wear them underneath wetsuits. Even the wetsuits would cause chafing when the skin rubbed against the neoprene.

Rash Guards Today

These days, rash guards are available for people of both genders. Women can get them in a number of styles and colors. They're not just for surfing either, as people can get them for a variety of different sports.

You don't have to be the athletic type at all to have a need for a rash guard. A rash guard is not only useful for protecting against abrasion with the elements of the water. The most common modern purpose for a rash guard is to protect your skin against the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

3 Reasons To Use A Rash Guard

Now, you at least have a basic answer to the question, what is a rash guard? With that knowledge, it might help to know a little bit more about exactly why a person would want to use a rash guard. Of course, they can protect you against rashes and UV light, but what else can they do?

1. Protection

The primary purpose of a rash guard has to do with the things we already mentioned. It protects your skin against potentially harmful residues and against the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Against the elements

If you're a surfer, you'll probably deal with sand and wax residue, which causes chafing and rashes. The primary purpose of a rash guard has always been to protect the skin of surfers from sand and waxy residue on their surfboards.

Surfers often end up getting rashes when they slide on and off their rough surfboards. This even happens to people who are wearing wetsuits, which is why they often want to wear rash guards underneath the wetsuits. Rash guards can also protect the skin of boisterous children who are running around and possibly falling down on the sand.

Rash guards are made with flatlock stitching. The material is also very lightweight and dries quickly, making them very comfortable.

As if this isn't enough, a rash guard can be very useful for protection against foreign sea particles. Surfers who wear rash guards can enjoy the activity much more. You never know what can rub up against you not only from your surfboard but also from the water itself.

Against the sun

In addition to sand and random sea particles, anyone who goes to the beach risks sunburn. Rash guards give you additional coverage that will protect you against the harmful rays of the sun. There are even rash guards that include UPF 50+ properties, which means built-in protection against the sun's rays.

However, this isn't to say that a rash guard replaces sunscreen. You should still wear sunscreen. It's just great to know that the two together give you a very strong level of protection against ultraviolet rays.

So what is a rash guard? Among other things, it's an item that can confer a whole lot of protection onto your skin.

2. Heat

man wearing rash guard

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If you're into water sports, you probably know that the water can get very cold. A lot of people find the coolness of the water to be relieving on a hot day, but there are times when it can actually be too cold. During these times, your rash guard can give you an extra layer to warm you up.

Sometimes, the weather is just too hot for a full wetsuit. A rash guard can be a good alternative in these situations since no matter how hot it is. It's always going to be colder underwater. Its primary purpose is not to keep you warm, but it can help accomplish this when necessary.

As you already know, many people wear rash guards under wetsuits. There are also thermal rash guards, which are made of an even thicker fabric. These typically have long sleeves, and you can use these for water sports, such as aqua aerobics and surfing.

3. Style

In addition to protecting you against the elements, a rash guard can also be an excellent way for you to show off your sense of style. Many people want to make sure that they look good when they go to the beach, and you can do this with a rash guard.

Just like tankinis and swim trunks, rash guards come in a huge assortment of colors, prints, and styles. You can mix and match with bottoms to further showcase your sense of style. Rash guards can be long-sleeved, short-sleeved, or even sleeveless.

People can wear rash guards even if they have no intention of getting into the water. Some people might want to wear them as an additional coverup if they don't feel comfortable walking down the beach in just their swimsuits.

There are rash guards for kids too, so your kids get to express their fashion senses as well. They can choose from all sorts of one-piece rash guards available.

Different Types Of Rash Guards

You already know the basic answer to the question, what is a rash guard? However, this isn't necessarily an all-encompassing answer. There are several different types of rash guards that serve different purposes.

General-purpose rash guards

General-purpose rash guards will give you all the protection you need in the majority of situations when it comes to surfing and sun protection. You can either wear them alone or under a wetsuit in order to protect your skin from irritation.

Typically, these are lightweight. They're made to be snug on a person's body. They can have either short or long sleeves; the short-sleeved rash guards give the person more freedom when it comes to movement, while the long-sleeved ones give them more protection and support.

A lot of rash guards also come with boardshorts connectors. These allow you to attach your rash guard to your shorts so that you can prevent them from riding up.

Surf shirts

Surf shirts are in the rashguard family, but they're somewhat different. Like regular rash guards, they're very lightweight. However, while rash guards are snug, these are loose-fitting.

A person can wear these primarily for sun protection. However, you should be aware that they're too loose for surfing.

Rash guard vests

rash guard vest can give you additional warmth when you're enjoying ocean sports. You can either wear these alone or under a wetsuit. Because they don't have sleeves, you have more freedom to move your arms and shoulders.

Thermal rash guards

As the name suggests, thermal rash guards give you some extra warmth in cold water. If you're going to be in very cold water, this is probably the rash guard that you want.

People often use these types of rash guards in ocean sports and aqua aerobics. In these situations, the water is typically too warm for a full wetsuit, but too cold for people to just go in with their bare skin. Most commonly, these are made of neoprene, which is very good at keeping people warm.

A lot of the time, you'll be able to see that a rash guard is specifically made for warmth if the word "thermo" is in the name of the product. This means that it's composed of thick and insulating fabric. You should also look for the "mm" number, which is the thickness in millimeters. A higher number signals a thicker material.

Full-body rash guards

Even though most rash guards are shirts, there are also rash guards that are cut like full-body wetsuits. Just as you can with a regular rash guard, you can wear these either by themselves or under wetsuits. Many sports can make good use of these full-body rash guards, including canoeing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, kitesurfing, surfing, and windsurfing.

However, you should keep in mind that these suits can restrict your freedom to move around.

Dive Right In!

man on surfboard wearing rash guard

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A rash guard can give you one great way to protect your skin, whether or not you're into water sports.

In addition, you can choose a rash guard that expresses your sense of fashion. This is something you can do, just as you can choose a swimsuit that you think looks good. The right rash guard can fulfill purposes to you that have to do with both form and function.

Now, you know that there's so much more to these garments than the simple answer to the question, what is a rash guard? You can use one of these to really improve your outdoor experience. You should definitely look into buying one if you feel like you could benefit from it!

What do you think about our answer to the question, what is a rash guard? Do you think you'll be shopping for one in the near future? Let us know by leaving a comment!


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