In Pain? Skinny Jeans Can Do Nerve Damage

Whatever fashion experts might say about UGG-style boots, skinny jeans with thongs peeking above the belt or handbags with tiny dogs nestled in them, some doctors and researchers are now weighing in for the public good.

Popular fashion choices can actually cause serious medical conditions and nasty infections, doctors say.

Skinny jeans in the 70s used to cause some emergency room visits to remove the fabric. The new and improved stretch fabric in today's skinny jeans has led to an uptick in nerve damage.

UGGs Not Made for Walking?
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Many items carry a risk of causing joint pain, muscle pain, nerve damage and infections.

ABC News talked with experts researching and treating these problems for advice on healthy fashion choices, and to uncover myths about clothing with a bad reputation for your health.

Are Skinny Jeans Dangerous?

Skinny jeans have the reputation of being painful on egos, full stomachs and, occasionally, hard on the eyes.

But Dr. Orly Avitzur, a neurologist at Yale University, has found yet another way skinny jeans have been hurting people in the long-term, meralgia paresthetica.

Avitzur said doctors used to see meralgia paresthetica among girdle wearers, but the lycra-infused denim worn by women and young hipster men today has resurrected the fashion-derived pain.

The condition starts when tight-fitting clothing compresses a nerve in the groin close to the skin's surface. Put enough pressure on it, and the whole nerve can begin to react, running from your groin, to your outer thigh and down toward the knee.

"It can feel anywhere from numb to prickly, to a tingle, to burning, to painful or irritating," Avitzur said.

What's worse, even if people throw out the skinny jeans, their pain may linger. "It can take some time for it to dissipate? weeks or months even sometimes, if the damage is extensive," Avitzur said.

Skinny jeans-bearing youth aren't the only ones to suffer from this painful condition. Avitzur said pregnant women and obese people can also suffer from nerve compression. Across the population, Avitzur estimates 4 in 10,000 have suffered.

But Dr. Elizabeth Steiner in Oregon has seen other problems from pesky skinny jeans in her female patients.

Can Thongs Cause Infections?

Some think they're sexy, some don't, and some people still think you're talking about shoes. But whatever a thong means to you, doctors are questioning their contribution to infections.

Women might be at risk for infection, "When you wear thong underwear, or tight underwear or regular underwear and very, very tight pants," said Steiner, an associate professor of family medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

Steiner said that when a person uses the toilet, it's normal for bacteria "to populate" around the anus.

But, in women, "our vaginas, our anuses and our urethras are very close together," Steiner said.

When a woman wears tight jeans, tight underwear, or even thongs with tight jeans, Steiner said it can set up just the right conditions to move the bacteria from the anus, where they normally live, up to areas where the bacteria doesn't belong.

"The friction can move bacteria along the perineum up to the vagina and to the urethra," she said. "Bacteria are sneaky."

Then, because women's urethras are very short compared to men, the bacteria can move up into the bladder and cause a bladder infection or urinary tract infections, Steiner said. But there are more risks for fungal, not bacterial infection.

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