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Non-Breathable Bras can Make Your Skin Sick

A breathable fabric like cotton can reduce the risk of skin rashes.

None of us likes to feel all sweaty and gross, with wet fabric plastered against our skin. But wearing bras that don’t breathe can do worse than make you uncomfortable – they can actually make your skin sick. If you sweat a lot in your bras, or your bra’s fabric rubs against your breast, you could develop a mild, itchy fungal infection. This infection isn’t too difficult to treat, but it’s uncomfortable and can recur if you don’t take the right steps to clean your bra and prevent a repeat of the circumstances that led to the infection in the first place. Who’s at risk of developing a skin infection from their bras, and what do you need to know about it?

Who’s at Risk?
Manhattan plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Schulman says “rashes and fungal infections can develop on the skin on and around a woman’s breasts if she’s not wearing a material that breathes.” In short, this issue can affect every woman. But larger-breasted women, women who live in hot or humid climates and women who work out and/or sweat in their bras are at the highest risk of developing skin infections from non-breathable bras. Basically, if you’re in a position where your bra material may become hot or sweaty, and trap that moisture against your skin, you’re at risk of developing skin infections.

Switching to Natural Fibers can Help
As a rule, bras made of natural fibers, such as cotton, breathe better than bras made of synthetics. If you’re concerned about the possibility of developing a rash, switching to a cotton bra can help reduce your risk. Wearing moisture-wicking bras when you work out can also help reduce your risk of developing a fungal infection, as these bras are designed to breathe and carry moisture away from your skin.

Reducing the Risk of Skin Infections
You can do several things to reduce your risk of developing bra-related skin infections. If you’re a larger-breasted woman and your bra doesn’t support your breasts fully; i.e. if your breasts rest against your chest wall and cause the band of your bra to sweat; you should try to find a bra that offers better support to reduce the likelihood of trapping the bra band and creating a moisture-rich environment where fungal infections can take root.

If you live in a humid or moist environment, changing your bra periodically throughout the day to a dry bra can help. Change sweat-soaked workout bras after you workout – basically, do what you can to reduce the circumstances where a sweaty bra remains against your skin all day.

Treating Bra-Related Skin Rashes
If you develop bra-related skin rashes, you can often treat them with a hydrocortisone or antifungal cream applied to the skin on and under the breast. When you develop a rash, make sure to wash your bras thoroughly in hot water to prevent re-infection. If you develop recurring infections, you may need to change your bra wardrobe and/or schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss skin care options.

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