7 health problems related to leggings

Here’s the scoop on your everyday favourite item of clothing

Umnia Shahid April 24, 2016

Okay so if you’re a girl, you would probably marry your leggings. They are comfortable, versatile and always look good with just about anything. But did you know that your favourite pair of leggings or your beloved yoga pants could contribute to some unexpected health issues? As compiled from Reader’s Digest, here’s the scoop on your everyday favourite item of clothing.


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, 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 moisturiser.


Basically, this is a fancy name for the inflammation of your hair follicles. You have probably noticed a few red bumps on your legs. Well imagine the discomfort of that rash exacerbating. 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: moisturising, not wearing leggings 24/7, cleaning the infected area and wearing loose pants when you’re home at least. However, if you notice that the hair follicles look more infected, Mayo Clinic recommends consulting a doctor and applying antibiotic cream or antifungal ointment. You may also want to try aloe vera to add moisture back into the skin.


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


Similar to ringworms, itching sounds worse than it is. It can be caused by a fungal infection that occurs in sweaty, moist environments — think running in yoga tights! Most often, itching tends to occur in — unsurprisingly — athletes, as well as people who are overweight. Avoid the dreaded itch by making sure you shower and change your leggings after a sweaty day. As with ringworms, applying an over-the-counter antifungal cream is also recommended.

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 itching or 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 — no matter how great they look!

Skin dryness

Pulling on a pair of leggings without moisturising first 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. Make it a habit to moisturise daily, shower after working out and change your leggings if they become too sweaty.

Weight gain

Let’s face it, when you’re having a ‘fat’ day, leggings hide all manner of sins. But they might be causing your body harm while “hiding” supposed flaws! Experts have warned that leggings can make the muscles ‘lazy’ and result in flabby stomachs and wobbly legs. The claim will alarm thousands for whom leggings have become a wardrobe staple. Physiotherapist Sammy Margo shares, “Leggings feel good and look great and I am as addicted to them as anyone but there is a downside: they hold in and support the quadriceps (thigh muscles) and the core muscles in your tummy and do the job the muscles are supposed to do.” As a result, the muscles are allowed to relax and switch off, your body, with time, might not remain as svelte or firm as it otherwise would be. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th,  2016.

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