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Fashion Trends

Could your clothing be a health hazard?

Sore knees, nerve damage and panic attacks? It may sound strange, but experts say the way you dress can affect your wellbeing in a myriad of ways.

When you get dressed in the morning, you’re probably more concerned about whether your outfit looks good and suits the weather rather than how it might affect your health, but it might be time to think again.
In some situations, your clothing can trigger some surprising and rather frightening consequences - and here are five of them to be aware of.
Dark clothing attracts insects
If you're a mosquito magnet, it might be time to take a look at what you're wearing. “Black, blue, green and floral patterns on clothing attract mosquitoes as they act as camouflage for them,” says insect expert Howard Carter from the repellent brand Incognito.
“Wear white, beige, light brown or light olive if you want to reduce your risk of being bitten.” Mosquitoes can also bite through fabric and the tighter your outfit, the more likely it is that this bite will break the skin – so go for floaty tops and skirts or palazzo pants.
Carrie Bickmore's polkadot, white mini not only looks the part, but will keep her from attracting unwanted attention from those pesky mozzies!
Skinny jeans can cause nerve damage
Last year, the case of an Adelaide woman who had spent the day packing boxes in a pair of skinny jeans made headlines. The jeans had stopped the circulation to her calves, causing the muscles to swell, and this damaged the nerves enough that she fell over and couldn’t get up.
It was an extreme case but ‘compartment syndrome’, as it’s called, is a risk if you're squatting for long periods in tight clothing. Professor Thomas Kimber, the neurologist who worked on the case, suggests wearing something loose for such tasks.
Take a style cue from Shelley Craft, and opt for comfort when completing house chores.
Some undies may make you itch
The type of kickers you wear are very important if you commonly suffer from thrush. “G-strings and nylon underwear increase moisture and reduce the circulation of air in the vulval region, and this combination of heat and sweat exacerbates thrush,” says Sydney gynaecologist Dr Robyn Lloyd.
White underwear might also be preferable to dark as there's a theory that chemicals in dye can also irritate. “G-strings are not recommended to cystitis sufferers,” says Dr Lloyd. Cystitis is triggered when bacteria from the bowel colonise the bladder, and the string shape of G-strings can transfer the big between the two.
Tight clothing can trigger panic attacks
Close-fitting collars or waistbands can slightly restrict your breathing, which for susceptible people, can trigger an attack. “Panic attacks happen because something makes us feel scared, in this case the feeling that it’s slightly difficult to breathe,” explains Brisbane psychologist Lana Hall.
This might make you want to dump all your tight clothing, but Hall says a better approach is to manage your thoughts. “A panic attack occurs because you're worrying about your breath. If this happens, simply try telling yourself that it’s just the anxious part of your brain talking and thank it for trying to keep you safe. Then distract yourself by thinking of something else.”
WATCH: These celebrities bravely open up about mental health. Article continues after video...
The wrong sports bra might hurt your knees
You probably know that wearing an unsupportive bra is bad for your breasts, but it can affect your fitness too. If you run when your breasts aren’t under control, you land more heavily, increasing the risk of problems like knee pain, stress fractures or shin splints. Not to mention poor support might also be slowing you down.
How effectively you swing your arms is one of the key things that determines running speed. “When we’ve measured how people run, we find that if the breasts are moving too much, women tend to reduce their arm swing to compensate,” says Dr Deirdre McGhee from Breast Research Australia at the University of Wollongong.
Words: Helen Foster

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