Skin Care Tips from the Dermatologist
How often do you wash your underwear?
Underpants need to be washed after every time you wear them. That’s because the skin of your inguinal folds (the name for the anatomic area that folds and is located between your legs and groin) and the skin of your buttocks and genital area harbor many microbes.
Some are normal and friendly members of your skin’s microbiome. Others are not. Problematic microbes can include, at a minimum, staph aureus, fecal germs that cause illness and skin infection, and yeast that can infect skin.
Fungal germs that cause jock itch can also be a problem in the groin. This germ is the same fungal organism that causes athlete’s foot, and it is common.
Moist skin occluded by dirty cloth is a happy place where all these microbes can thrive.
During the course of wear, your underpants accumulate sweat, germs and secretions, not to mention occasional fecal material. It’s not a pretty subject to discuss. Good hygiene is important for both your underpants as well as your skin to prevent infection and rashes in this moist area.
Because the groin skin is often moist, it will leach a residue of chemicals out of underwear fabric. Common chemicals you want to avoid include detergent residue, laundry product fragrance, and fabric softener.
Another common chemical and allergen exposure risk associated with underwear is elastic.
All elastic degrades over time and will be leached out by sweat. Using chlorine bleach or a hot drier will speed the degradation of elastic.
If you become allergic to elastic, it creates a life-long allergy to elastic products. Trust me when I say that it is hard to avoid elastic in clothing… so take good care of the elastic in your undergarments and discard any with worn elastic before you become allergic.
You can see that how you wash your underwear is important.
What is the best way to wash your underwear?
- Often, underwear needs to be laundered more gently than your other clothing.
- Pick a laundry soap that is free of fragrance and detergent residue. Even specialty laundry soap for “delicate” fabrics may be loaded with fragrance – elegant but still fragrant. Avoid using fragrance containing products on underwear. Even natural fragrances are allergens. An entirely fragrance and detergent free option is my 100% All Natural All Purpose Liquid Cleanser Concentrate.
- Avoid using fabric softener or anti-static drier sheets when laundering your underwear.
- Be sure your underwear loads are rinsed well. To help the rinsing process, don’t pack your washing machine too full. If you have an optional second rinse cycle use it on your underwear.
- Minimize exposing elastic to bleach or hot dryers and realize that if you do, those items will have a shortened lifespan.
Are you using these tips to wash your underwear correctly?