What Is a Rash Guard? Our Answer

What Is a Rash Guard? Our Answer

You live life on the go, and you push the limits physically. In your quest for supremacy, you want the gear to match. Finding the right clothing for your physical pursuits can invoke natural questions, such as “What is a rash guard?” and “Do I need one?”

The casual observer might naturally assume that the answer to “what is a rash guard?” simply lies in the name. This article of clothing does indeed guard you and your skin from unsightly or uncomfortable rashes.

For millions of wearers, though, these clothes are a must-have that offers so much more.

What Is a Rash Guard: The Perfect Accessory to Your Future Black Belt

In some circles, you may know the rash guard as a “rashie” or a “rash vest.” For our purposes of answering “what is a rash guard,” we’ll stick with the tried-and-true moniker.


Since the rash guard falls into the category of athletic shirts, according to The Adventure Junkies, these clothing pieces have become popular wear for athletes. In particular, certain aquatic sports like surfing, swimming, and bodyboarding will boast rash guard numbers that rival water amounts.

A couple of factors account for the prominence of rash guards in these activities, as detailed by The Snorkeler's Guide. For one, a top benefit of the athletic shirts lies in their ability to protect against the often-punishing sun. Water sports, especially surfing, carry a high risk of sunburns.

As outlined by SwimOutlet, rash guards often earn high marks for UV protection. For many sun-bathers and general outdoorsy folk, these swim shirts beat sunscreen.

Rash guards provide a great buffer against a mild annoyance that could escalate into a major problem.

This buffering effect extends to chaffing that can cause abrasions and subsequent rashes. For wetsuits and high-impact water velocity, the barrier of a rash guard can be a saving grace for an aqua man or aqua woman’s skin.

Rash guards have even expanded their reach and found homes in baseball, football, and among everyday beach-goers.

Martial arts mayhem

In addition to the water world, rash guards have discovered a solid niche in the world of martial arts. Just as environmental elements can wreak havoc in the water, they can likewise batter the skin of even the toughest jiu-jitsu master, even with gi protection.

Eastern Europe BJJ elaborates about how every hardened martial artist is well-acquainted with mat burns and injuries. So, what is a rash guard in the domain of martial arts?

Yes, it is a shirt that will lessen your discomfort. Perhaps more importantly, it can act as a natural band-aid for the cuts that will surely come.

You could accurately call these shirts disease prevention shields. Rolling mats could make the biggest germaphobe shudder. Staph infections, ringworm, and all manner of other unpleasantness could result from these disease incubators, according to Dan Howard.

There's another health perk for these handy shirts. Tighter-fitting rash guards afford compression that can diminish stiffness and sore muscles, says Southern Europe BJJ.

Even better, rash guards can keep you cool during those punishing gym practices. The practical, light fabrics won't soak you in sweat and will help your body temp stay nice and regulated. Dan Howard expands on these additional body boosts.

Interestingly, Eastern Europe BJJ further details a more hidden one-up rash guards may gift you in the gym. The fabric is made to be unobtrusive and untearable during grappling. Some believe the friction created by these shirts could also aid you in keeping a lock on that crucial hold or maneuver against opponents.

Creating a Champ

Let’s dive deeper and tackle our “what is a rash guard?" question from a different angle. We know who wears rash guards and why. Now, we can consider the “how” behind these guards of the shirt world.

How are rash guards made, and how many types make up these essentials in a champion’s clothing arsenal?

Cutting a fine figure

Rash guards have been keeping bodies safe since they first came into popular use in Australia.

Elastic and protective fabrics such as nylon, Spandex, Lycra, and polyester comprise some of the keys to the rash guard’s success. According to SwimOutlet, these durable fabrics can withstand the elements. They afford a lightweight, flexible, and water-friendly wearing experience.

Further, they can endure substantial wear and tear. Better yet, these fabrics aren’t so friendly or accommodating to harmful bacteria.

What is a rash guard without a durable, robust process of creation? The best fabrics in the world would mean nothing if they were not maximized to their full, efficient potential. A couple of reliable production techniques help ensure the rash guard’s strength.

For one, manufacturers take advantage of a process known as flatlock stitching. Website Surfing Waves details how in this technique seams stay flat on the clothing rather than being loose. As a result, strenuous activity becomes no match for the rash guard’s durability.

Further, Dan Howard details how a six-panel construction gives the shirt better mobility in any environment, rain, or shine. This contrasts with the typical four-panel construction of most shirts.

On-guard selections

What is a rash guard? In short, this apparel represents a wearable ally that can work for anyone, regardless of age or gender.

Rash guard makers have taken advantage of this apparel’s popularity by offering several modifications.

For example, as demonstrated on The Adventure Junkies, lower body rash guards bring all the convenience and protection of a rash guard to your lower extremities.

Lower body shorts-style rash guards also comprise a major component of rash guard bodysuits. Aside from the lower protection, these varieties model one-piece swimsuits.

Rash guards for children often utilize this design type.

While traditional rash guards are on the market for both men and women, females also have another design option at their disposal. Cropped rash guards offer the stylish look of a crop top without sacrificing quality, according to The Snorkeler's Guide.

Of course, if style is the name of your game, you can find rash guards galore in a plethora of creative patterns and designs. You can also take advantage of different features: long or short sleeve options and high or lower necklines, tight or looser fit, and so forth.

Making the Rank?

Now, let's evolve “What is a rash guard?" into a more personal, pertinent question: “Do I need a rash guard?”

If you have sensitive skin prone to rashes and other irritants, a rash guard can truly become your best friend. The light-skinners out there that fall prey to sunburns will also be thanking themselves for purchasing their rash guards.

Naturally, the more athletic amongst us will find the need for a rash guard multiplying with every athletic event. You’re dealing with sore muscles and cramps. The last thing you need on your plate is uncomfortable chaffing-inspired rashes.

With its temperature regulation, the rash guard can even help reduce the fatigue you’ll experience from continued, to-the-limits activity.

Best of all, what other apparel can boast deadly disease preventer as a primary claim to fame?

Do you need a rash guard? Perhaps the better question is, can you do without one?

Do you have insights on “what is a rash guard?” or our other important questions? Grapple (nicely, please) in our comments section below.

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