Just How Bad Is It to Wear Sweaty Workout Clothes All Day?


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Your running clothes may pass the sniff test, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should you keep wearing them.

Whitney High
, M.D., who specializes in dermatopathology at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.
Heading out the door for a morning or lunch run and then sitting in your sweaty clothes all day can be trouble for your skin. Depending on your skin type, problems could range from simply an unpleasant odor to fungal infections, according to High.
That’s why changing out of sweaty clothes as soon as possible is crucial.
“The problem is the moisture,” High said. “Sweat and bacteria can get trapped in the fabrics and, in turn, irritate skin.”
The sweat and bacteria can disrupt the natural microbiome of the skin, Goff says, leading to infection, acne, or dermatitis (skin irritation). Sweat can also get trapped in the areas where the skin folds, called intertrigo, High adds.
And while warmer temps sometimes bring relief to your skin from the dry, cold winters,
heat and humidity
can come with a whole new set of problems. Prickly heat, or heat rash, happens when sweat ducts get clogged and sweat comes up to surface, but can’t evaporate outside the skin like it normally does.
If you know you have sensitive skin—or just to be safe—it’s best to shower and change into clean clothes as soon as you can after a run or workout. And, Goff suggests, wash with an antibacterial soap or shampoo, especially as temps rise and you become more sweaty during exercise.

“Shampoos with the active ingredient pyrithione zinc are very effective at controlling growth of vectors and yeast on the skin, and can be used as a body wash,” Goff says.
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If you do want to rewear your clothes to stretch laundry days, High suggests hanging sweaty clothes to dry before grabbing them again, rather than letting them sit in a ball on the floor or in a hamper, where they stay damp and can harbor moisture and bacteria.
It’s absolutely okay to wear non-sweaty, clean athleisure or workout clothes when
working from home
, but Goff suggests that you should seek out clothing that wicks moisture. And High adds that it really depends on your skin type and what might irritate your skin. Some people may reach for soft cottons, while others are not bothered by more harsh fabrics.
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Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to skin health—sun exposure. As weather gets warmer, people get outside for longer and see more of the sun. And sun exposure can cause a myriad of problems, from aging the skin more quickly to increasing the risk of skin cancer. High suggests avoiding running between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
And, be sure to wear

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