If you're like me, sometimes exercise takes all the will to live out of your body, and you have no choice but to collapse onto your couch after narrowly making it home, leaving on your sweaty clothes. I mean, you exercised, right? What does the world want from you? This is real life, not Instagram. For the most part, it's cool though, right? Just crashing out in your sweaty workout gear?
Well, the answer is yes and no. More accurately, the answer is "it depends." I know, I know. You came here for a definitive answer as to whether you had to strip down and maybe even shower before your well-earned couch nap. But the toll sweaty clothes on your body depends on a lot of factors, such as your skin type, how sweaty the clothes really are, how long you wear them, and where they're sweaty, among other things. And the impending grossness can range from washable to medically treatable.
Here are some of the gross things that happen if you leave your sweaty clothes on. Because taking a few moments to deal with your sweat situation can save you hours, days, or even weeks of heartache later, should one of these things happen to you.
1. You'll Smell
This one's not rocket science. Moisture plus bacteria equals odor. And since you have bacteria literally everywhere on your body, wearing sweaty gym clothes too long is like watering a thirsty bacteria garden. Eventually you will be ripe, according to the Mayo Clinic. If it's only you in your life, this might not be a problem. But if you're hauling your body around town, you might want to spare the public.
2. Skin Rash
Stewing in your wet clothes can irritate your skin and cause a whole host of skin problems, including painful, itchy skin rashes, according to MedicineNet. Mold, bacteria, and fungus from the air can multiply in the wet clothes environment and then run rampant on your skin. You can also get a rash from simple irritation from friction. The site recommends dry, loose-fitting clothing in general, but especially while you're healing from these conditions.
I know right? But certain items of clothing that protect you from the sun can become less effective when they're wet from sweat or other moisture. So if you can't, for the life of you, figure out how you got a shoulder burn when you were running in a thick T-shirt, now you know. This problem can also be alleviated by wearing moisture wicking gear.
4. Body Acne
The longer you sit around in dirty, sweaty clothes, the more dirt and gunk is accumulating in your pores, making you prime real estate for acne causing bacteria, according to Dermascope. If you have especially acne-prone skin, sitting in your workout clothes is a recipe for disaster. Better to change out of the as soon as possible, and even better if you can shower right away, as well, or at least wipe yourself down.
5. Weakened Immune System
If you head out into the cold in sweaty gym wear, you're going to freeze. The moisture, and you're cooling post body workout will make it feel like it's much colder outside than it actually is. And if you get too cold for too long, your immune system can experience a dip, according to Ericka McConell in an article for POPSUGAR.
6. Vaginal Yeast Infection
You've probably heard tales of people who marinated in gym clothes or wet bathing suits too long and ended up with an uncomfortable and inconvenient yeast infection. Yeast infections happen when you wear tight clothes, clothes that aren't breathable, and moist or wet clothes, according to Everyday Health. If you can't change out of your clothes right away, help your vagina out by wearing loose, breathable fabrics.
7. Bacterial Vaginosis
The balance in your vagina either tips toward yeast (yeast infection) or bacteria (bacterial infection, AKA bacterial vaginosis, or BV), according to the Centers for Disease Control. If you have odor, discharge and discomfort down there that differs from your typical yeast infection symptoms (or even if the symptoms are pretty similar) then your sweaty gym clothes could be the culprit. Changing out of them right away can reduce your chances of throwing off your vaginal balance.
8. Skin Yeast Infection
Yeast doesn't just love vaginas. It's naturally present all over your body, even in your mouth. If the yeast on your body find a nice, warm, sweaty place to live, like in your skin folds, it will hunker down and make a life for itself that looks like a painful, itchy, burning rash for you. Luckily, it's a common infection that's easily treatable. That doesn't mean you want to encourage it happen by wearing sweaty clothes too long, according to The National Institutes Of Health.
9. Athlete's Foot
Athlete's foot is a fungus that loves to grow in the sweaty areas between your toes and all over your feet, according to MedicineNet. When it happens in your crotch, it's sometimes called jock itch. It itches and burns like firey death, and it's something you definitely want to avoid. One of the best ways to do that is to keep those areas clean and dry as much as possible.
10. Chafing (AKA Chub Rub)
If you sweat where your skin rubs together, you could get an irritation rash known (both affectionately and with loathing) as chub rub. Chub rub usually happens between the thighs, but sweaty workout gear can also cause chafing and rashes under your breasts, under your arms, and where your lets meet your body. If the sweat glands become blocked, then it's a full-on heat rash, according to the Mayo Clinic. It's super painful and it can take forever to go away, so better to avoid keeping those areas moist and sweaty, even if they're covered in your gym clothes.
11. Staph Infection
A Shape reader told writer Charlotte Hilton Andersen that her son's nasty staph infection came from his sweaty gym clothes. The bacteria live everywhere, including all over gym equipment. All it takes is a warm, moist environment for the bacteria to grow to epic, end even sometimes deadly, proportions, according to the National Institutes of Health. Don't be an incubator for any longer than you need to.
If you ask me, all these side effects of sweaty gym clothes make a great case for never working out, ever again. But for you, it's probably more of a push to change ASAP after working out. To each their own.
Images: Pixabay (12)