By Chinwe Uzoechi
From skyscraper heels,cosmetics to skin tight jeans, many of us repeatedly choose style over comfort. However, this could be bad news for your health. Here are top items of clothing which can put your health at risk.
Skinny jeans may be fashionable, but wearing skin-tight denim and other close-fitting trousers can have health repercussions for both women and men. For men, wearing tight trousers can cause overheating of the testes, lowering sperm count and causing fertility problems. For women, wearing skinny jeans can increase your chances of developing thrush. Furthermore, squeezing into skin-tight trousers can cause nerve compression, leading to tingling or numb thighs.
once reserved for special occasions, women are now increasingly opting to wear heels on a daily basis, which could lead to a whole host of health problems. Regularly wearing high heels can cause poor posture, put pressure on your joints, and lead to a range of conditions including arthritis, hammer toes, back pain and tendon injuries – and that’s before you take into account any heel-related accidents! Minimise damage by limiting your heels to 1.5 inches for daily wear and wearing insoles to help reduce the pressure on joints. Swapping to wedges will also give you more support.
while they may look more comfortable – and less dangerous – than high heels, flip-flops can also generate their fair share of health problems. In fact, in Britain the NHS reportedly spends £40 million a year treating injuries caused by wearing flip-flops. As wearing flip-flops offers no arch support or heel cushioning and forces you to adapt how you walk, the casual footwear can lead to joint pain, shin splints and orthopaedic problems. As with heels, flip-flops have their place, but they are better reserved for the beach and replaced with more supportive shoes for everyday wear.
Ladies, we all like to look our best in our underwear, but donning synthetic fabrics and thongs could leave you feeling far from sexy. Not only can rough materials cause chafing and infections to delicate skin, but wearing synthetic materials can encourage yeast organisms to multiply, increasing risk of thrush. Furthermore, wearing thongs can easily contribute to the spread of bacteria, leading to urinary tract infections. To help prevent any nasty itches, swap skimpy, synthetic underwear for pretty cotton briefs for daily wear.
According to survey results 25 per cent of body piercings lead to complications including swelling, bleeding and infection. Furthermore, even if you avoid infection, jewellery can lead to rashes and itching for those with nickel allergies, while dangly earrings can damage the ear tissue as it is stretched and pulled down by their weight. To accessorize your look without putting your health at risk, always go to a reputable piercer for new piercings, opt for hypoallergenic jewellery where possible and reserve heavy earrings for special occasions.
Slimming underwear (or control pants) are a big seller, endorsed by many a celeb and loved by ladies everywhere. However, while they may pull in all your lumps and bumps and help you look streamlined and leaner in your favourite dress, Bridget Jones style tummy-control underwear could also affect your health. Similar to a corset, control underwear puts increased pressure on the stomach, often leading to heartburn, breathing problems and digestive problems. Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome can also be worsened by such restrictive underwear.
With the rising number of gadgets and accessories many women haul around, you could be carrying around several pounds of weight on your shoulders every day. While you may not feel the effects of this right now, lugging around a heavy handbag can eventually lead to serious back problems and neck pain as well as poor posture. Don’t wait until the damage is done – do your health a favour and try clearing out all non-essential items and switching to a smaller bag.
Tight shirt collars and ties
If you often suffer from headaches, tingly ears or blurred vision at work, it may be that your shirt and tie are to blame. Wearing tight shirt collars and ties can reduce blood flow to the brain and increase intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eye), causing these symptoms. The restrictive items of clothing can also limit neck movement and lead to muscle tension in the back and shoulders. To reduce these symptoms, make sure you buy shirts with the correct collar size and loosen your tie. Also, wash your ties regularly to avoid bacterial infection.
While we are not suggesting you need to ditch your bra entirely, it’s important to make sure that, if you are wearing one, you are wearing one that fits. It is thought that more than 70 per cent of women are wearing the wrong bra size, and this can lead to a range of health problems including back, neck and breast pain, breathing difficulties, poor posture, skin irritation, circulation problems and even irritable bowel syndrome. Breast size can change over time so, rather than guessing your size, make sure you get measured to ensure you are getting the support you need.
Eyeliner has been around for centuries and is popular with many women as a way to frame eyes and make them stand out. However, although in most cases eyeliner is no cause for concern, applying any product so close to your eyes can come with its risks. Not only are many eyeliners made up of chemicals which can cause irritation, but applying the product too close to the inner corners of your eyes can lead to blocked tear ducts. To keep your eyes healthy, use a natural kohl
You may not think about your health when considering how to wear your hair, but your hairdo not only affects how you look, it can also affect how you feel. Wearing your hair in a tight ponytail can strain the connective tissue in the scalp, leading to headaches as well as hair breakage and loss. Wearing your hair in a tight braid and wearing headbands can also have similar effects. If you feel a headache coming on, let your hair down to help ease the symptoms.
While ditching your hair dye may seem like a scary prospect, continuing to colour your hair could have even more frightening results. The chemical para-phenylenediamine (PPD) is thought to be behind up to 80 per cent of allergic reactions to hair dye. While most of these reactions are relatively minor, including blisters and skin sores, PPD has been linked to more serious conditions such as permanent hair loss and, in rare cases, even death – although this link has yet to be confirmed. As allergies to PPD can develop at any time, it is important to perform a patch test every time you colour your hair. It may also be worth swapping to safer chemical-free or wash-out dyes.
Hair straightening products
Many women opt for salon straightening treatments to help keep curly or unruly hair poker straight for months at a time. However, in 2011 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a health warning over the risks of exposure to the carcinogen formaldehyde found even in straightening products listed as formaldehyde-free. Whilst salon workers who regularly use these products are at the most risk, it is still wise to avoid the dangerous chemical by manually straightening hair with blow-drying and straightening irons instead.
Mascara can harbour bacteria that is transferred into the product after each application and which can reproduce in the dark, warm environment of the mascara tube, potentially leading to eye infections. To help reduce the health risks associated with your mascara, make sure you store your mascara in a cool place and replace it after three months. Also, avoid applying your mascara in the car or on a journey as the motion can cause scratches to the eye during application which can also lead to infections.
Apparently the average woman eats four to nine pounds of lipstick in her lifetime. Given that a 2004 study revealed that up to 28% of lipsticks contain chemicals that can cause cancer, this is a pretty scary statistic. A 2007 study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics also found that more than 50 per cent of lipstick brands tested contained lead. Look after your health by switching to natural, organic brands of lipstick, particularly if pregnant.
In the last few years, fish pedicures have soared in popularity across the world, with people flocking to doctor fish spas for help with psoriasis, eczema or simple pedicures in which the fish nibble away at dead skin to leave areas smooth and soft. However, just as quickly as popularity grew, health reports were issued over the perceived dangers of this treatment. Reports state that fish pedicures could spread viruses such as HIV and hepatitis. While the risk is thought to be low, it is advised that those who carry a blood-borne virus, have any open cuts, or who have recently waxed or shaved their legs should avoid getting this treatment.
Shared beauty products
It can be tempting to borrow your friend’s lipstick when you’ve forgotten your own or to lend your best pal your mascara when she asks, however sharing your makeup can also mean sharing infections. It is impossible to tell by looking at someone if they have an infection as some viruses can be contagious even before they begin to show. Sharing lipstick could lead to catching cold sores, while eye makeup is the most risky and can lead to eye infections such as the extremely contagious conjunctivitis. If you must share makeup, minimise risk by wiping off the top layer before use.
Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids
You may not have heard of Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids (AHAs and BHAs) but they are commonly used in many beauty products, including anti-wrinkle and acne creams. Both AHAs and BHAs act as skin exfoliants, sloughing off dead skin cells. However, alongside potential side effects such as burning, swelling and skin irritation, the chemicals have a fairly dangerous side effect in that they drastically increase the risk of UV skin damage, therefore increasing risk of skin cancer. If you must use these products, make sure you use a high SPF daily to minimise risk of sun damage. However, exfoliating skin with natural skin scrubs may offer a gentler solution to applying acids.
While false nails applied properly should pose little risk to your health, long term use, or using cheap acrylic or poorly fitted nails, can damage the nail bed, lead to fungal infections between the false and natural nail and lead to natural nails coming off. Furthermore, some nail bars use acrylic nail products containing the chemical methyl methacrylate (MMA), which has been linked to respiratory problems and severe allergic reactions. Reports have also suggested that over-exposure to the ultra-violet lamps used to fix artificial nails can also increase risk of skin cancer.