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Rash Guard Swim Shirt for Men, Women, Children

Updated on July 26, 2011

What is a Swim Shirt or Rash Guard?

Generally, swim shirts are the same as rash guards. They come with additional UV protection, but are generally loser and not of the same durability. They can be used for a variety of athletic activities, including swimming, running, grappling, or really anything else. If you're looking to protect your skin without worrying too much about sun screen, then the swim shirt is probably one of the best investments you'll ever make. They are designed to protect your skin from harmful UV rays that can cause skin cancer and a myriad of other health problems.  Less specifically, rash guards and swim shirts can protect your skin from other damage caused by abrasion, exposure to bacteria, or fungus.  Additionally, the fabric can help wick away moisture and keep the body cool.

Swim Shirts for Swimming

When swimming, your back is often exposed to the sun for extended periods of time.  Because of this, one of the most common locations of sunburn is on the back and the neck.  Swim shirts can help protect your back from sun burn by covering it in strong UV-resistant material.  Most swim shirts have a UPF of over 50, which means that they'll block out the vast majority of the sun's radiation.  Many normal rash guards also have a UPF rating, but you'll want to make sure that they do before you purchase them.  For outdoor activities where the sun is your main concern, I suggest investing in the cheaper, less durable swim shirts just because it's unlikely that you'll be doing much damage to them.

Rash Guards for Martial Arts

In martial arts, the rash guard is one of the most important pieces of equipment.  Typically, the rash guards created for MMA will be of higher quality than other types.  This is because they are constantly being abused by the mat and being caught on things.  In addition to offering the same general protection of swim shirts, sans (sometimes) the UV protection, MMA rash guards typically have antimicrobial properties that'll help prevent things like staph infection and ring worm.  This, combined with the fact that they insulate the body physically, will provide an effective barrier against common gym infections. 

If you're looking for high quality material that will sustain punishment, whether in MMA or any other rugged activity, then you'll definitely want to pick up one of the more expensive and durable rash guards geared toward grappling.  These are great for mixed martial arts, brazilian jiu jitsu, wrestling, judo, and many other things.

Rash Guards for Thermoregulation

Many rash guards are designed for the sole purpose of controlling sweat and maintaining body temperature. One of the most popular brands for this is Under Armour. These rash guards are typically of lower durability than the ones designed for grappling, but are generally better for cooling or keeping warm, depending on the type bought. These are slightly less expensive than many of the more durable ones, including swim shirts, although this is definitely dependent on brand. I recommend these type of rash guards for general athletes that wear clothing over their rash guard and just want to stay warm or cool during practice or games.


Rash guards are typically supposed to be form fitting.  This isn't necessarily the case with swim shirts, although they can be as well.  When you're purchasing a rash guard, then you should just get the normal size that you get for your t-shirts.  If you don't want it to be too tight, then you can probably go up a size.  If you want it extra tight, then you might be able to go down one.  I am able to fit into three different sizes and none of them are really that much different from eachother.  The only thing you'll want to be concerned with are the long-sleeve rash guards because the sleeves might end up being a little too long for your arms.  In general, I'd suggest getting your normal t-shirt size.

Swim Shirt and Rash Guard Hygiene

Poor rash guard hygiene is a major cause if infections in athletes that either grapple or perform any other sports where they work up a sweat.  The fabric, if not washed, can begin to harbor bacteria and fungus even if it has antibacterial properties.  If you're looking to use a rash guard, you definitely need to make sure you wash it after every single use.  Inability to do so may lead to infection or irritation of the skin.

Most rash guards will do fine in the washing machine, but shouldn't be put in the drier.  That's not to say that they'll fall apart in the drier, although the lesser ones might.  In general, you can expect them to have a lesser life span if you continuously dry them in the drier.  Since they are relatively light, it's pretty easy to just let them air dry.  It usually takes less than an hour for an Under Armour shirt to dry and slightly more for a Hayabusa one.  If you do use the drier, you might want to consider not using fabric softeners as these coat the material in a sort of wax that can take away their moisture control properties.


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    • ChristinCordle12 profile image

      ChristinCordle12 6 years ago

      Useful hub!Thanks.