It’s officially summer! Say hello to long days, fun in the sun and swamp ass … so much swamp ass (or swamp crotch, if you will).
Yes, like chafing and bug bites, all-over body sweat ― and we mean all over ― is another less-than-ideal symptom of the season. Luckily, there are ways to lessen it, and they start with what you’re wearing.
Cora Harrington, editor-in-chief of Lingerie Addict and expert in all things undergarments, turned our world upside down when she contradicted what we’ve long thought to be true, explaining on Twitter that cotton is not necessarily the best fabric for keeping things cool in the sweltering summer heat.
“Even though it’s a natural fiber, it holds into water like a sponge,” she tweeted. “Once cotton is wet, it *stays* wet, and that’s bad for genital health.”
Like sitting in dirty workout clothes or a wet bathing suit for too long, sitting in sweaty underwear can cause problems like yeast infections and jock itch. Instead, Harrington recommends silk, though she acknowledges its impact both on the wallet and the environment. “Silk is wonderful,” she wrote. “Breathable, soft, strong and comfortable against the skin.”
For those who take issue with silk either financially or ethically, Harrington then shared a wide range of other fabrics —“plant-derived synthetic fibers” that include “rayon, viscose, bamboo and modal” — and detailed what she likes and dislikes about each.
Almost as helpful as Harrington’s thread are the replies, where followers sound off on their own tactics (like carrying extra underwear with them), their favorite materials (modal and silk jersey both come recommended) and information about where to buy them (most department stores!).
But cotton isn’t completely bad. Dr. Angela Lamb, a board-certified dermatologist and director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice in New York, she recommends cotton and cotton blends, disagreeing with suggestions to wear rayon and viscose, which are “are tightly woven and do not tend to breathe well.”
“Silk is hard because most silks are not stretchable. You need to mix with something to get the stretch and comfort you need from underwear,” she said. “During the summer, I like underwear vacations at night ― no undies when you sleep. I’m also OK with bamboo or modal.”
As Dr. Scott Osmun, a board-certified OB-GYN physician at BloomOB-GYN in Washington, D.C., unbreathable materials like rayon and viscose can lead to yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis, two common concerns when it comes to sweat.
“Bacteria and yeast tend to grow in warm, moist places. I hate to use that word because I don’t like it, but it’s true,” he said, adding that when it comes to choosing material, it’s best to find something for “wicking away moisture.” They include cotton and spandex, yes, but also bamboo.
Synthetic fibers are recommended for men, too. A 2017 GQ article that delves into how to treat and prevent “swamp crotch” and jock itch, a fungal infection caused by trapped moisture and tight clothing, recommends swapping cotton briefs or boxers for microfiber.
“Pair of Thieves SuperFit Boxer Briefs hug your legs without any discomfort in the crotch, and its moisture-wicking microfiber polyamide fabric expels water to the outside of the briefs, so that it more easily evaporates but never nestles against your own skin,” the article reads.
There’s no way to fully avoid sweating in the summer months, but these tips can at least alleviate some of the more unpleasant feelings of the season.