One fashion trend that has spread like wildfire is tight-fitting pants, such as skinny jeans. However, this seemingly harmless way of flattering our figure actually poses a serious health risk. According to neurologist Dr. Orly Avitzur, constrictive pants can cause an important nerve in the groin area to become pinched (1). If it is pinched enough, pain or discomfort can be felt along the entire nerve, which runs from the groin, through the outer thigh, to the knee (1). This can even last for months after the wardrobe is changed (1). This condition is referred to as meralgia paresthetica (1).
Many other health problems can result from skinny jeans as well. People have been diagnosed with the skin condition contact dermatitis after succumbing to this fashion trend (2). The formation of blood clots in the legs is another possible side effect (2). Pressure from tight clothes on the organs also interferes with bowel movements, which can cause stomach aches after eating (2). There is also a risk of contracting lipoatrophia semicircularis, which is a cosmetic deformity characterized by skin indentations (2). This condition results because compression on the legs weakens the subcutaneous tissue, which is a layer of the skin (2). Therefore, the very trend that is designed to improve appearance can actually worsen it (2).
Although wearing binding pants can be dangerous for anyone, the consequences can differ based on gender. For example, because tight pants create a lot of friction in the groin area, it becomes easier for bacteria to travel into the bladder (1). This is especially problematic for women. Bacteria exposure, combined with the female anatomy, makes women more susceptible to bladder infections and urinary tract infections (1). Men, on the other hand, tend to suffer in different ways. The male anatomy puts them at risk for genital heat stress and fertility problems when tight pants are worn (2).
In society today, fashion trends seem to be constantly changing. What is popular one moment may be ostracized the next. Although fitting in and following trends may give us a sense of acceptance and unity, it is also important for us to pay attention to the signals our body sends us. Sacrificing comfort for the sake of appearance can have grave consequences. If our snug-fitting skinny jeans are damaging our nerves, upsetting our stomach, restricting our blood flow, and harming our skin, it is probably time to go against the majority by finding a style that is both unique and comfortable. However for those of us who just can’t bear to discard our favorite pair of tight pants, the key, as with most things in life, is moderation.