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How Leggings Can Make These 7 Health Problems Worse

You would probably marry your leggings. They are comfortable, versatile, and always look good. But your favorite pair of leggings or yoga pants could contribute to these unexpected health issues.

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Chafing

Chafing is the act of making skin sore by rubbing against it. When wearing leggings or other tight clothing, you have to worry about the friction this causes on your skin, explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Chafing contributes to cracks on the outer layer of skin, a lack of hydration of the skin, and inflammation. The best way to treat chafing: remove the “offending” agents, says Dr. Zeichner. This means taking a break from your leggings and loading up on moisturizer. Your skin wishes it could tell you these secrets to a better complexion.

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Folliculitis

Folliculitis is a fancy name for the inflammation of your hair follicles. You have probably noticed a few red bumps after shaving your legs. Well imagine the discomfort of that, but between your legs. Bacterial or fungal infections are the main causes of folliculitis, and the issue will normally clear up in a few days with proper self-care: moisturizing, not wearing leggings 24/7, and cleaning the infected area. However, if you notice that the hair follicles look more infected, Mayo Clinic recommends consulting with a doctor and applying antibiotic cream or antifungal cream. You may also want to try aloe vera to add moisture back into the skin. Here are more beauty uses for aloe vera.

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Ringworm

Any health problem with the word “worm” in the name has major ick factor. But keep your panic in check: Ringworm has nothing to do with an actual worm. It is a fungal infection caused by excessive sweating in tight exercise gear, says Dr. Zeichner. This infection presents as a red, scaly, and sometimes itchy rash on the skin or in the groin. To get rid of ringworm, Zeichner suggest an over-the-counter antifungal cream or seeing your doctor for a prescription if your case is more severe.

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Jock itch

Similar to ringworm, jock itch sounds worse than it is. Think it only affects men? False: jock itch, a fungal infection that occurs in sweaty, moist environments, can strike women too. Jock itch tends to occur in—unsurprisingly—athletes, as well as people who are overweight. Avoid jock itch by making sure you shower and change leggings after a sweaty day. As with ringworm, applying an over-the-counter antifungal cream is also recommended. Here are some reasons why you might be sweating excessively.

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Bacterial vaginosis

A lack of good legging hygiene can also throw off the balance of bacteria and lead to an overgrowth of infection-causing bacteria. Other things that can contribute to BV include new sex partners or having multiple sex partners, douching, and a natural lack of lack of lactobacilli bacteria, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis—fishy vaginal odor, itching, and maybe unusual discharge—can be mistaken for yeast infection symptoms, so it’s a good idea to see a doctor before you self treat.

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Yeast infection

Many women are familiar with the dreaded yeast infection. Yeast grows in warm, moist environments, and your leggings provide the perfect habitat. If you notice vaginal itching or white and curd-like discharge, you likely have a yeast infection (or, as noted, possibly BV or another infection). A doctor will diagnose and prescribe either an oral or topical treatments. The key to preventing a yeast infection: Don’t walk around all day in your sweaty yoga pants! Here are some other tips to keep your lady parts safe and healthy.

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Skin dryness

Pulling on a pair of leggings without first moisturizing can lead to quite the itchy situation. In fact, that “dust” on your leggings is really your dead, dry skin. Overly dry skin can cause dermatitis, a red and tender rash caused by damage to your protective skin layer. Preventing dry skin is easy, but takes a few extra minutes in your routine. Moisturize daily, shower after working out, and change your leggings if they become too sweaty.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest