Girls Who Love to Surf!

Rash Guards - what are they?

Rash guards or rash vests as they are also known, are athletic shirts generally made of spandex or lycra and either nylon or polyester. They are thought to have originated in Australia and are favoured by surfers. They were developed to be worn when the weather is too warm for wearing a wetsuit but protection was still needed to prevent the chafing that occurs when sand from the beach would become embedded in the wax on the surfboard and then rub against the surfer's skin when he mounted, paddled through the surf or slid off the board. Rash guards are also used in other watersports including scuba diving, snorkelling, wakeboarding, body surfing, body boarding, windsurfing and kayaking.

Some rash guards offer slight protection against the sun and also against the irritation that can occur with contact to the surface of the water or waves. Slight protection against jelly fish stings has also been noted and some people even wear the rash guard underneath their wetsuit to help with the chafing. A few manufacturers have introduced an ultraviolet protection factor into the fabric to offer better protection from the sun's rays.

Other sports have gotten on board and you will see the use of these shirts or vests in baseball, football, water polo and martial arts. Because they have the ability to wick away moisture from the skin it helps prevent irritations that occur when other fabric becomes damp and then rubs in the areas where it wrinkles, such as elbows, knees and groin. Rash guards some in a variety of styles and colors and in the surfing community may be worn as a casual shirt and fashion statement. You can find them with long sleeves, short sleeves or sleeveless, making it a vest. They do not need to be form fitting to do the job properly and can be found in all sizes from children to adults. Children's rash guards are required to have the ultraviolet protection in the material. Women don't have to wear a unisex "one size fits all" shirt either, there are rash guards made with a woman's shape in mind.

Lately it has become common practice for those who participate in martial arts to wear a rash guard. These can be worn under the gi (uniform) to comply with the dojos rules and can be matched to the color of the gi or belt. They offer protection against the grazing of skin on the floor, concrete, grass or even exercise mats. It also prevents those fingernail scratches that occur when an opponent grapples you. For those who like to practice outdoors it is an ideal garment allowing ease of movement but providing protection from the sun. While most rash guards are tight fitting there are also those with a looser fit to allow for maximum breathability. Because it draws moisture away from the skin it is ideal in intense sports where there is a lot of sweating and the looser fit which allows for ventilation is the ideal choice for martial arts whereas as so many other sports want the streamlined shape of the tight fit.

Check out our Rashguards and Neoprene Tops in our Surf Shop .

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