Workout clothing has come a long way from the sweat-stained jogging suits of the 1980s: Today’s exercise gear is multi-colored, form-fitting, and attractive enough that most people don’t mind running errands while still in their gym attire.
Unfortunately, the dwindling habit of changing immediately after exercising is having some unpleasant consequences. The tight fabrics popular in yoga, for example, have been increasingly linked to a variety of skin conditions. Speaking with Today.com, dermatologist Lauren Ploch said that she’s seen issues ranging from irritation to bacterial infections as a result of excessive wear.
Because your sweat is unable to escape in many modern designs, moisture and lack of circulation can result in intertrigo, or itchy and scaly patches in skin folds; folliculitis, an infection of hair follicles; and tinea cruris, a fungal infection typically found near the groin. Workout fashion can also promote inflammation on the back or rear end, leading to acne breakouts.
One solution: stop working out. If that sounds too dramatic, experts advise not waiting any longer than an hour to shower. If you think you’ll be longer, it’s best to change out of your sweaty clothes until you can and keep them separated in your gym bag.
But not all workout gear issues can be solved with soap and water. Compression clothing—sometimes used in athletics for perceived performance enhancement or muscle soreness relief—can affect the body in other ways. A nerve condition called meralgia paresthetica, typically seen in people with rapid weight gain, can result from excessively tight shorts and cause tingling or numbness in the thighs. It’s best to restrict their use to short durations.
If your problem is more odorous in nature, try to ditch polyester: bacteria seem to enjoy hanging out on the fabric more than cotton.