Yoga pants have become the ultimate fashion item. They come in a multitude of colors, they’re flattering and above all else, they’re incredibly comfortable. The desire to wear them at all times has transformed the fashion landscape of many cities and coined the term ‘athleisure’ – meaning clothes that can be worn for working out and chilling out.
However, this persistent use of your yoga pants could be causing you significant health issues. The sheer amount of time that a lot of people spend in the same pair of yoga pants after a workout is a breeding ground for illness and infection. That post-yoga brunch could be a lot less healthy than you first realized.
Yeast infections and rashes
Part of the appeal of yoga pants is the tight but comfortable fit. The issue with this is that the material doesn’t breathe very well. The pants make your skin very moist and warm when you work out, which is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
The areas most affected by such conditions are the upper thighs and the groin. During a heavy work out e.g. a spin class, the skin of your thighs can often become chafed. This thinning of the skin opens up the possibility of all manner of infections. In men, it commonly leads to a condition called tinea cruris, which is also known as jock itch. In women, the likelihood of yeast infections is increased dramatically by wearing tight clothes for too long after exercising.
Dr. Michael Eidelman, the medical director of Chelsea skin & laser, also highlights another concern for regular wearers of yoga pants, folliculitis. Folliculitis is also caused by friction and tight clothing, as the hair follicles are damaged during exercise. Commonly found on the upper back of women who regularly wear sports bras and on the bums of people wearing yoga pants. The rash and pimples that emerge as a result can be itchy and painful.
Eidelman also suggested that users of antibiotics for conditions such as acne are more susceptible to infections while wearing yoga pants. The sweat and heat can exacerbate the acne which opens your body up for other infections.
The Yoga Studio
The studio itself only furthers the issue of tight yoga pants. Although the studioès intention is to be a space for you to work on your overall health, the presence of other sweaty people can have the opposite effect. By wearing the same yoga pants consistently, without washing them regularly, you are exposed to infections. Or as Bianca Jade, founder of the fitness website MissFit.com, put it we’re just ‘sitting in a pool of toxins.’
Jade herself is an avid yoga pants wearer but believes that it is the transfer of sweat from a previous user of a mat she was using that caused her dyshidrotic eczema. This form of eczema commonly develops on the hands and causes painful blisters and bubbles. It is usually brought on by excessive moisture.
The toxin filled moisture found on yoga mats that transfer into your yoga pants when you work out on them has also been linked to tinea versicolor. This fungal infection is identifiable as a discoloration of the affected skin, generally in the form of white patches. As with most fungi, tinea versicolor grows most quickly in warm and moist conditions. Yoga pants and hot yoga are the perfect breeding grounds.
How to protect yourself?
The benefits of exercise hugely outweigh the risk of issues caused by it. Even yoga pants don’t need to be avoided to protect yourself. Their popularity is born out of their functionality and comfort which are crucial to a good workout. The issues come when you live in the same pair for too long.
Dr. Elizabeth Hale of New York University believes that avoiding skin problems and inflammations are simple – ‘The most important strategy to prevent this is to change out of your sweaty clothes quickly, after finishing your workout. For women, it is especially important to remove any tight-fitting sweaty garments.’ If you want to continue wearing your yoga pants for the day after exercising, buy another pair that you can wear after exercising and showering.
Another important factor is the breathability of the clothes you’re in. Many people opt to go commando for comfort, when wearing yoga pants, however, wearing no underwear can increase the likelihood of infection. There are distinct styles that have built in underwear which can protect you from disease and keep you comfortable.
Additionally, ensure that you thoroughly wipe down the mat that you use before and after use. Avoiding the toxins of others and preventing others from being exposed to yours stops the cycle of infection that occurs in yoga studios.
Yoga pants have revolutionized women’s fashion and exercise plans over the past five years. They are here to stay, but it is crucial that you remain mindful of the health issues that can be caused by over wearing the same pair. Workout clothes are for working out and should be washed after every use. Keep your body healthy, your clothes clean and your spirits high. Namaste!