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Most people know they should wash new clothing before wearing it, because of the products some stores and manufacturers apply. However, clothes don’t need to be new to cause issues. Even clothes you’ve worn a hundred times could cause problems. Clothing can be detrimental to a person’s health in a variety of ways, even leading to the flu or a bout of indigestion.

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Contact Dermatitis

One of the most common skin reactions people develop is contact dermatitis. This condition causes a red, itchy rash after direct contact or an allergic reaction to a substance. The list of things that can cause contact dermatitis is nearly endless. Soaps, jewelry, fragrances, and even fabrics can be responsible. Clothing materials and laundry products can both lead to an uncomfortable rash.

contact dermatitis rash Artfully79 / Getty Images
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Allergic Reactions

Clothing carries a variety of compounds that can trigger an allergic reaction. Generally, most people who have allergic reactions while wearing clothing blame fabric softeners, starches, or detergents. While these allergies exist and are fairly common, it’s also possible for clothes to pick up things like pet hair, even if the person wasn't near an animal.

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Workout Clothes

Everyone has worn their workout clothes more than once without washing them. After all, washing them after every workout would mean multiple washes every week. Unfortunately, this can trigger health issues most of us don't think consider. If you throw your damp clothing in a hamper or a pile on the floor and then shake them out the next day, they are unlikely to have dried completely. Women, in particular, can fall prey to trapped moisture in tight workout clothes and the skin and yeast infections they can cause. Working out at a gym means sweat and germs from other people can wind up on your clothes, as well.

workout clothes sweat

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Apocrine Sweat Infections

People sweat. It’s not pleasant, but it is necessary. Unfortunately, sweaty clothes can lead to serious infections. Different sweat glands produce different types of sweat. For example, armpits, genitals, and other body parts have apocrine sweat glands. Some research shows that accumulations of apocrine sweat on clothing lead to dangerous infections that cause cysts. If the cysts burst, the fluid inside can spread to nearby follicles, creating more cysts. Not much is known about this condition, called hidradenitis.

apocrine armpit sweat PeopleImages / Getty Images
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Tight Clothing

Now, more than ever, wearing form-fitting clothes is a popular trend. Unfortunately, tight clothes can lead to various health concerns, including digestive issues. Many people use clothing to create a certain silhouette. High-waisted leggings or jeans can tuck in the waist for a stylish hourglass look, but they can also cause general discomfort, indigestion, heartburn, and belching. Consistent pressure on the abdomen inhibits the stomach's ability to fully digest food. Men who wear tight pants may be putting themselves at risk of testicular torsion and bladder trouble.

tight pants tights infection FatCamera / Getty Images
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Spreading Illnesses

Bacteria can travel from person to person in many ways, and washing machines are just one. Minute amounts of fecal matter on underwear can contain millions of viruses. By washing that underwear with other clothing, you can spread those viruses to 90% of the other items in the washer. Most organisms responsible for the cold and flu can survive the wash cycle. It takes high-heat drying for at least 28 minutes to eradicate all bacteria from a piece of clothing.

fecal residue washing clothes Yana Tikhonova / Getty Images
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Salmonella

It might be easier to list the products that don’t carry Salmonella, because this bacteria seems to reside on everything, and clothing is no exception. Few people wear aprons in the kitchen, even when preparing eggs and chicken. Particles of these foods cand contaminate clothing, resulting in infection. Some people wear special clothes while cleaning. It is easy for these clothes to pick up bacteria strong enough to resist normal washing methods.

salmonella chicken food stephanie phillips / Getty Images
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Fabric Softener Pads and Sheets

More and more people are relying on fabric softener dryer sheets and pads over traditional liquid products. Unfortunately, a study from the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found that these pads may be causing respiratory illnesses. According to the research, clothes in a dryer with a pad emitted enough chemicals to cause sensory irritation and limit airflow. Over time, inflammation developed in the lungs.

fabric softener pad sheet AnthonyRosenberg / Getty Images
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Temperature Issues

Some people have sensitivities to certain materials. Interestingly, clothes may be responsible for several temperature-related issues. Infants are most at risk of this, and are unable to voice their concerns, but the problems can affect adults as well. Even breathable fabrics like nylon and polyester may have weaves or knits that are too tight, trapping heat inside the clothing and leading to overheating, even in moderate climates. Overheating has symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, and nausea, and can resemble the flu.

sweat overheat temperature shirt PeopleImages / Getty Images
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Too Much Dust

Everybody owns clothes that sit in the closet until that long-off day when they match the rest of an outfit. Sure, we think, they may be dusty, but they’re clean enough to wear. Unfortunately, this might not be true. Even if an item lacks visible dust, particles small enough to be invisible to the naked eye can cause issues. Simple movements force the dust to fly off, contaminating the surrounding air. If it is inhaled, it can cause rhinitis, bronchitis, or tracheitis. Excessive amounts of inhaled dust can permanently damage the lungs.

clothes closet dust bymuratdeniz / Getty Images

Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.