Summer time is the time of year bike racers are most susceptible to getting saddle sores. While they usually don't force you to take time off the bike, when left untreated and you continue training under conditions that aggravate them, they will force you to take a break. Who wants that in the middle of the racing season?!? Having to take too many days off can quickly derail fitness and turn a planned peak into a plateau.
WHAT CAUSES SADDLE SORES
1. Very Long Rides
Generally speaking, a long ride is unlikely to cause saddle sores. Unless you're unaccustomed to the distance and your skin is particularly sensitive. But a very long ride, or many back to back days of riding, can cause saddle sores. This are the "true" sort of saddle sores that pop up right where your sit bones press against the saddle. They can be very painful while riding, and can really make you take time off the bike.
2. Sitting on the Saddle Wrong
If you're sitting on the saddle wrong, or have a saddle that does not fit you properly, you are likely to have some chafing. After a while, the chafing will cause skin irritation. I don't think I'd consider these to be true saddle sores, but they're in the same family and treatment is the same.
3. Long Sweaty Rides
This is the most common cause of saddle sores. It's summertime, your kit is damp from sweat, you're doing long training rides, and BOOM, saddle sores. It's because the abrasive chafing from damp fabrics exacerbates irritation of the skin around the sit bones.
4. Dirty Kit
Dirty (i.e. damp) kit in the summer time is a breeding ground for bacteria. If you have bacteria laden kit rubbing into your skin for hours at a time, something's going to happen.
5. Long Sweaty Rides in Dirty Kit
Even a racer who's not susceptible to saddle sores can get them once you start combining circumstances. I think the worst combo is long rides in previously worn (especially still damp from sweat) kit. You're just asking for it.
GETTING RID OF SADDLE SORES
1. Antibacterial Cream
As soon as you get the indication that a saddle sore is forming, apply antibacterial cream to the area before going on rides. It acts kinda like chamois cream, but also helps the skin both heal and avoid further infection. For bad cases of saddle sores, also apply for during your day-to-day.
2. Post Ride Showers
After a ride, take a shower and thoroughly clean (and dry) the saddle sore area.
Use chamois cream during the summer (I don't personally).
4. Time off the Bike
You can also simply take a few days off the bike (not a good option for most of us, unless you're into losing fitness).
Personally, I don't use chamois cream - never have, don't ever plan to. The extra expense and prep time is unappealing to me. That also means I have to accept the fact that I'll get saddle sores from time to time, and will have to deal with the discomfort/pain and time it takes to heal them. To me that's worth it.
That's it! Hope all of you can avoid saddle sores for the rest of the season, and that they clear up quick when you do get them.