4 Clothing Items That May Hurt Your Health

When it comes to fashionable health hazards, high heels are the most well-known culprit. But how likely is it that other clothing choices may be messing with our health in little ways?

Unless you have predispositions to certain conditions, it is fortunately unlikely that anything from your closet can have serious health consequences. But if any of the following sound familiar to you, it may be time for a shopping trip:

1. Skinny jeans

A case study from 2015 detailed how a woman experienced nerve damage after spending most of the day squatting in a pair of skinny jeans. Of course, this happened to be a rare case so there is no reason to feel alarmed over any pair of tight-fitting denim pants.

Circulation problems or blood clots arising from skinny jeans are unlikely, according to experts, but caution should be exercised if you have vascular disease or are prone to vaginal irritation. The key is to make sure that they are not too tight to the point where you feel constant pain or discomfort in your legs.

"If people wear some skinny jeans and their legs swell up when they sit down, or if their feet or toes or those distal parts of the leg become numb and tingly — when people feel those things when they wear jeans, this is not a fitting jean for them," said Kurtis Kim, a vascular surgeon at Mercy Medical in Baltimore, Maryland.

2. Wrong sized bra

Wearing the wrong bra can irritate your skin and leave you in a constant state of discomfort through the day. If you find a red line underneath your breasts or indentions where the shoulder straps should be, chances are your cups or band may be in the wrong size.  

"If a bra is too tight, it can create pressure on the nerves, muscles and blood vessels around the shoulders, upper back, and rib cage, leading to pain, headaches, and even constant pins and needles in the arms," said Sammy Margo, spokesperson for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in England.

3. Thongs

Thongs, while a staple in many female closets, might cause problems for women who have a predisposition to urinary or vaginal infections. 

"Thongs tend to rub, causing tiny tears in the delicate skin around your vulva and clitoris, creating access for microbes," explained Dr. Adelaide Nardone, an OB-GYN in Providence, Rhode Island. In such cases, experts recommend buying thongs made from cotton since the breathable fabric is less likely to cause tears.

4. Shapewear

Depending on the fit and how often they are worn, shapewear might affect pre-existing stomach problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.

"[Shapewear] presses on your stomach, so the acid can come up into the esophagus and cause reflux and heartburn," said Dr. Keri Peterson, a physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC. Wearing it too often can also cause stress for people who are prone to urinary incontinence.

However, Peterson said shapewear is safe to use for special occasions. Most of the effects are also temporary, she assured, adding that "the only thing that would be alarming is if you're having constant reflux and the acid is burning the esophagus."