This isn't a particularly hygienic thing to admit, but I've been known to wear a pair of underwear longer than one day. It's very infrequent, but it happens. Sometimes I go to sleep forgetting to remove the skivs, wake up late, and slide on some jeans and head out the door, completely oblivious to the fact that I'm wearing the same underwear from the day before. Now that I have that off my chest, it does beg the question: How many days in a row can you wear underwear without, like, things getting dangerous down there? Does it really matter as much as we think it does? Does wearing the same pair for more than one day at a time put you in greater danger of developing some sort of infection?
The short answer is yes, it does matter how long you wear the same pair of underwear. Consider this: Underwear is basically a hammock for whatever might be coming out of your private parts during the day. Be it discharge, menses, sweat, or some other kind of bodily residue, the cloth acts as a catch-all.
Basically, your underwear is the first protective barrier between your crotch and the outside world.
No matter how clean you are, your body is always producing some sort of bacteria, especially near your genitals. And since it's nice and dark and moist down there, it is also the perfect home for that bacteria to spread and grow. Yum!
"Moisture in the groin area leads to overgrowth of yeast," Lauren Eckert Ploch, a New Orleans-based dermatologist, told Vice. So the more bacteria you have accumulating down there, the greater the possibility for things to go south, so to speak.
Not only can bacterial growth lead to rashes, itching, and irritation, it can also lead to a variety of infections.
It can even eventually lead to staph infections, but let's hope it doesn't get to that, shall we?
Before you get too worried about that extra day you accidentally kept those puppies on, the likelihood that things are going to go really wrong is pretty slim. Dermatologist J. Scott Kasteler, MD told Greatist that if your undies look relatively clean to you — like there aren't any major, visible skid or urine marks — you can probably stretch the mileage a day or two. So, do with that information what you will.
But what you really need to keep in mind is what you're actually doing with yourself and your body in your day-old underwear.
If you're sweating a lot because you've been working out, or it's simply a hot day outside, you might want to pay some extra attention to how long you've had those undies on. Again, the more moisture down there, the greater the possibility for bacteria growth. That's just how it goes, my friend.
If you already know that you regularly deal with chronic rashes, chafing, or even if you just have a tendency toward skin irritation, it really is best practice to keep everything as clean and dry as possible down below.
In fact, all in all, for day-to-day genital health, it will always be best to keep things dry, clean, and breathable. So, not only do you want to go forward keeping the underwear rotation pretty darn regular, it's also a good idea to pay attention to the fabric you're wearing. The most common recommendation for underwear continues to be 100 percent cotton, as it just simply allows for the most air down there.
Oh, and another good practice? Consider just going commando during bedtime to really let things breathe, and that will probably make it generally less likely for you to be wearing the same underwear that you wore yesterday. It's good for your parts, not to mention super comfortable.
Here's to a 2018 filled with clean undies, y'all!