How Long Is Too Long to Stay in Sweaty Workout Clothes After Class?
s skipping an immediate post-class shower affecting your health? Find out just how necessary a quick rinse really is.
The ideal post-SOUL routine includes washing your face, changing out of your sweaty clothes, taking a shower, enjoying a protein smoothie, and going about your day. The IRL version often involves grabbing your stuff and rushing out the door as soon as possible because you’ve got places to be. We get it. While your coworkers and family might appreciate that post-class rinse, how essential is it to your health?
“The benefit of exercising and not showering outweighs the downsides of not exercising because you might not be able to shower,” explains Bertie Bregman, MD, family physician and owner of Westside Family Medicine in New York City. There aren’t any major concerns if you delay your rinse off, he notes, but there are a few things you might want to keep in mind.
If you’re prone to breakouts on your face and body, try to shower as soon as class ends. “A very common issue I see with my patients who are riders is body acne around the upper back and chest area. Even if you can’t shower completely, at the bare minimum, change out of your tight-fitting, sweaty clothes. Garments will trap sweat and clog pores, and that’s when breakouts happen,” Elizabeth K. Hale, M.D., NYC dermatologist, co-founder of Complete Skin MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, and SOUL rooster previously told SOUL.
Other minor skin irritations or potential bacterial infections in the hair follicles could develop if you’re sitting in your sweaty clothes long after class ends, “but it will vary from person to person depending how predisposed they are to it,” adds Dr. Bregman.
However, “if you have a lot of excess skin, you can sometimes develop a fungal infection in the skin folds because of the extra moisture," he explains. "If you have very moist areas where you have excess skin or skin folds touch — such as under the breast if the sports bra doesn’t hold up the breast, creating areas of skin against skin — there is a potential that you could develop a fungal infection there.”
Other Health Concerns
A few things you don’t need to stress about: yeast infections or catching a cold. Dr. Bregman notes that there hasn’t been any good evidence showing that hanging around in sweaty clothes will make you more likely to develop a yeast infection. However, you could deal with other irritations or itching due to the moisture and friction, so at the very least, consider changing out of your sweaty gear and into something less tight.
And the rumor that you're more likely to get sick? That’s a myth, he says. “Being cold and wet is more likely to make you sick, that’s just not true.”
The Bottom Line
Try to shower and change within the hour, Dr. Bregman says.