As the saying goes, “Beauty is pain”… And that’s so true: those six-inch stilettos may be killing your feet, but your legs look amazing; you can hardly breath when wearing your spanx, but it smoothes beautifully your contour; tattoos and piercing are the ultimate fashion accessory, even if you have to suffer to get them…
But can fashion trends be harmful for our health?
While people are becoming increasingly aware of the devastating effects of extremely low body weight, the health risks of what we wear are less known…
Check out these 14 fashion trends that can represent health hazards, and read what you can do to overcome them…
1) Thongs, strings, synthetic underwear
While they may look great under your skinny trousers, thongs and strings have been blamed for causing yeast infections, urinary infections, vulvar irritation and hemorrhoids.
Actually, no scientific evidence supports these claims, but some women do realise that, when wearing thongs, some problems show up. And there are possible explanations for that:
- Thongs and strings are usually made of synthetic fabrics, which are non-breathable, as opposed to cotton underwear. This means that more moisture remains trapped in the genital area, favouring the development of infections, particularly yeast infections.
- The thin and close-fitting band of material at the crotch of the thong may transfer bacteria from the anus to the vagina and the urethra, predisposing to bacterial vaginosis and bladder infections (read more here).
- Thongs can also provoke genital irritation. Either because they are too narrow to provide effective barrier effect against clothes-induced irritation, or due to excessive rubbing, tight underwear may cause micro-abrasions of the genital area, resulting not only in vulvar pain and burning sensation, but also predisposing to vaginal infections and urinary tract infections.
- Whether thongs cause hemorrhoids is less clear, but women who already have hemorrhoids may eventually get intense irritation due to constant underwear rubbing.
The bottom line: If you are prone to urinary or vaginal infections, or if you find that every time you wear thongs you get an infection, then you should avoid them. For a woman without predisposition to infections, thongs, strings and synthetic underwear do not seem to be dangerous, especially if worn occasionally.
2) Tight bras, wired bras
Bras are sexy, they provide support and mould breast contour, they can even help “increase” or “reduce” breast size. However, bras have been linked to different health problems.
It has been suggested (mostly by internet rumors and badly-designed studies) that bras, especially those underwired, may cause breast cancer by obstructing breasts’ lymphatic flow, which is in charge of clearing different toxins that may be present in the breasts. Several studies have been conducted to address this issue, none of them confirmed these fears (read more here).
However, too-tight bras do seem to pose other health problems, such as breast pain, back and neck pain, breathing problems, impaired digestion and skin diseases (such as lipomas and fungal infections) due to intense pressure.
The bottom line: A recent French study has challenged the benefits of bra wearing. While most of us won’t dare to go braless, avoid ill-fitting bras, as well as continuous use of wired bras.
These undergarments, intended to slim our body and smooth its contour, have become an essential piece in most women closets, with many celebrities swearing by them. They do make us look fabulous, but watch out! They can cause serious health problems: heartburn, breathing problems, yeast infections, nerve compression (see skinny jeans), and even potentially lethal blood clots.
The bottom line: Choose the size of shapewear that fits correctly on you; if you don’t feel comfortable, most likely you are not wearing the adequate size or type for you, therefore increasing the risk of health problems. Moreover, do not wear them for long periods of time.
4) Heavy bags
Large bags are trendy, and very practical as we can carry plenty of things inside them: our wallet, make-up, a water bottle, umbrella and sunglasses, even our laptop! But how burdensome are they for our body? Experts agree on that: heavy bags are responsible for neck, back and shoulder pain; and when used repeatedly, they may lead to muscle spasm, arthritis, sciatica, even spinal misalignment. This is also true for heavy backpacks.
The bottom line: Find ways to avoid carrying excessive weight all the time. It may not be easy, but it is certain that you will find inside your bag some items that can stay at home…
You can find a great deal of beautiful and cheap jewelry around, but be careful! They can pose serious health risks. Costume jewelry can lead to nickel allergy in susceptible women, causing rash, itching, and redness. But more worrisome, dangerous heavy metals have been found in faux-bijoux, such as lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury and even arsenic…
In addition, many cases of ear lobe tears or “split” occur in women wearing heavy, large earrings, which in some cases require surgical repair.
The bottom line: Try to “get real” and choose hypoallergenic jewelry made from stainless steel, titanium, yellow gold (white gold can contain nickel), sterling silver, copper and platinum.
To avoid earring accidents, do not wear them very often or when injuries are possible, i.e., while practising sports.
Body piercing has become increasingly trendy; according to a study, people get piercing mainly “to express individuality”. But piercing is not devoid of risks:
- allergic reactions (when nickel jewelry is used),
- skin infections,
- scarring, tearing and trauma,
- life-threatening infectious diseases (such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tetanus and HIV) if the equipment used to do the piercing is contaminated with infected blood.
- There are also risks inherent to each piercing site (for example: tongue piercing may cause heavy bleeding, jewelry in the genital area may lead to genital injury during intercourse and condom breakage).
The bottom line: Before taking the decision of getting pierced, get informed, know the risks, choose a reputable piercing studio and be very careful while your piercing is healing.
Tiny or full-body, black or colorful, minimal or true artwork, we can find them in the most unimagined body parts (think the eyeballs!).
They have huge fans and sworn detractors, but there is no doubt that tattoos have become a social phenomenon: according to the Pew Research Center, 38 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo… The reasons why tattoos became so popular have to do with the influence of the television (the reality show Miami Ink), some celebrities getting inked, and of course, social media… Therefore, it is very pertinent what Pew researchers pointed out: tattoos represent something of a trademark for Millennials…
But could this must-have fashion accessory be literally “to dye for”?
There are certainly risks related to tattoos, some of which have been known for a long time now, such as:
- Infection: most commonly bacterial infections (caused by Staphylococcus), usually at the tattoo site, but more rarely evolving to serious, generalized infections; in addition, hepatitis, HIV, warts and herpes may occur with use of contaminated needles.
- Allergies: to ink pigments, causing itching, swelling and redness of the tattooed area; red pigments seem to be the most allergenic. These reactions can be very difficult to treat, and rarely, the tattooed area needs to be surgically removed.
- Scarring: this can happen from getting, but also when removing a tattoo.
- Granulomas: they are small bumps that may develop as a body reaction to pigments.
As tattoos became increasingly common, more rare side effects have come out:
- Rare infections: besides the above-mentioned, infections with a bacteria called mycobacteria, which had contaminated ink pigments have been reported.
- MRI complications: tattoos may get burnt while undergoing MRI, due to the presence of iron in black pigments (red pigments can also have iron).
- Reactions to sun exposure (photosensitivity): tattoos exposed to the sun may become itchy, red and swollen.
- Hiding skin cancer: there are case where tattoos covered up skin cancers, preventing them from being found at an earlier stage.
- Severe allergic reactions: leading to ulcerations, gangrena and even leg amputation.
You may click here to see some serious complications of tattoos (I warn you though, some pictures can be shocking).
- The long term effects of tattoo ink pigments are still unknown; scientists have found that pigments can actually enter the bloodstream and accumulate in some organs. Since some of them contain potentially toxic metals, it has been suggested that tattoos may increase cancer risk.
The bottom line: Think before you ink! Inform yourself, understand the risks… And if you still decide to go ahead, plan carefully:
- the tattoo’s design: it would be a good idea to start with a small one, to check for possible bad reactions;
- on which body part: there are places that may be more painful, with more difficult healing, or with higher risk of complications;
- when: while healing, you should avoid tattoo’s exposure to sun and water bodies;
- where: it is essential that you choose a reputable tattoo studio with experienced artists, where hygiene standards are respected and good quality inks are used.
Once you got your tattoo, you should be extremely careful until it heals, usually a couple of weeks.
You should consider tattoos a something permanent; tattoos’ removal may be difficult, and have eventually bad aesthetic results.
Stilettos, peep-toes, wedges, flats, sandals, lace-ups: it is not a secret that we LOVE shoes. Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo’s have become our objects of desire… But can we be stylish and have “happy feet” at the same time? Well, you should know that certain shoe styles can hide some dangers:
8) High heels
Frequent high-heel use for extended periods can cause many problems, from ankle strains to muscle fatigue, osteoarthritis of the knee, irreversible damage of the Achilles tendon, to headaches and sciatic pain. Stilettos are particularly harmful, as the leg’s weight is concentrated in a tiny area, increasing the risk of ankle sprain.
9) Ill-fitting shoes
Wearing shoes that are too loose or too tight can lead to a series of foot problems, such as corns, calluses, bunions, in-grown toenails, or intense foot pain (metatarsalgia).
Their lack of arch support can cause knee, hip and back pain, as wells as a painful foot condition know as plantar fasciitis.
11) Platforms and wedges
The higher the platform, the less foot flexibility, “locking” the foot and leading to ankle sprains or even fractures.
Since feet are so exposed, they predispose us to foot injuries or splinters; this is the reason why diabetic persons should not wear flip-flops. In addition, due to the lack of arch support, they can lead to plantar fasciitis or painful knees, hips, or back when used for long periods of time.
The bottom line: You don’t have to say goodbye to your favourite spike heels, but try not to use them every day, all day long. Prefer well-fitted, anatomic shoes or those with heels that are no more than 2 inches high. Orthotic inserts can provide support and padding to relieve aching feet, especially when wearing flats.
13) Synthetic fabrics
Polyester, acrylic, nylon and spandex may cause skin irritation, known as dermatitis, and this can be a greater problem in susceptible, allergic persons. Dyes and other chemicals added to fabrics may also pose health risks.
In addition, since these fabrics do not allow adequate sweat evaporation, they can lead to vaginal yeast infections, skin or foot fungi (the latter known as athlete’s foot).
The bottom line: Go natural by wearing cotton, silk, linen, wool or other natural fabrics; check the clothing tags! If your skin is too sensitive or if you are just conscious about the environment, avoid chemical dry cleaning and wash your clothes in a “green”detergent.
14) Tight pants, skinny jeans
Most of us have been occasionally struggling to get into our favourite skinny jeans. But these garments do not come without risks; what’s more, they have even earned their own syndrome!
- Tight pants syndrome: abdominal discomfort and distention, palpitations and heartburn, all happening in women -and men- wearing ill-fitting pants with waistbands smaller than their bellies…
- Skinny pants syndrome: or “ tingly thighs” (the scientific name is meralgia paraesthetica), a tingling or burning sensation on the outer part of the thigh due to the compression of a nerve of the leg.
Other more rare health problems may the consequence of wearing tight trousers:
- The compartment syndrome may happen in women wearing very tight jeans which provoke intense leg compression, this in turn interrupts the leg’s blood flow, potentially leading to muscle and nerve injury.
- Persistent pressure exerted by tight trousers may lead to a breakdown of fatty tissue of the thighs, causing a condition called lipoatrophia semicircularis.
The bottom line: Do not wear tight, skinny pants for long periods of time, and be aware of any sign of compression; if so, stick to wider pants for a while… There are plenty of stylish models to choose from!
Model catwalk: 5why.com.au; thong: etsy.com; bras: s8thisnext.com; shapewear: target.com; heavy bags: popsugar.com; jewels: beautytipsntricks.com; piercing: bubblegumink.com; tattoos: pinterest.com; high heels: pinterest.com; ill-fitting shoes: polyvore.com; flats:pinterest.com; platforms and wedges: pinterest.com; flip-flops: etsy.com; synthetic fabrics: pinterest.com; tight pants, skinny jeans: wheretoget.it