A nerve condition called meralgia paresthetica can occur when tight or low-rise pants compress the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, causing pain and tingling in the thighs—and sometimes even weakness in their feet and ankles. Symptoms typically go away after switching to looser-fitting clothes. Tight jeans can also trap moisture, which helps bacteria and yeast grow—increasing the risk of urinary tract infections and vaginitis.
An enormous market now exists for shapewear, perhaps best known by the popular brand Spanx. These tight-fitting compression undergarments aim to streamline a person’s body beneath clothing. But when the garments squeeze in the wearer’s waist, they can also compress internal organs. If the stomach is squeezed too tightly, stomach acid can push up into the esophagus, causing heartburn. Shapewear can also trap sweat and bacteria against the skin, potentially predisposing a person to folliculitis, an inflammation of the hair follicles.
Tightening one’s necktie too forcefully can increase the pressure in the eyes (intraocular pressure). In an older British Journal of Ophthalmology study of 40 men, when subjects tightened their ties for three minutes, their eye pressure became elevated. Increased intraocular pressure can interfere with the diagnosis and management of glaucoma, the researchers noted.
In an effort to avoid unsightly bulges beneath clothing, thong underwear features a thin strip of fabric that runs from the vaginal area through the buttocks and to the waistband. But because they are tight against genital and anal areas, they may inflame sensitive skin there. The undies may also slide back and forth, which could, at least in theory, transfer fecal bacteria from the anus to the urethra, possible resulting in a urinary tract or vaginal infection. However, a study in Acta Dermato-Venereologica did not link string panties to increased anal bacteria in the vulvar area.
Thanks to selfie-loving reality stars and celebrities, so-called "waist training" is a hot trend. Devotees use corsets to cinch their abdomen, hips, and back into an exaggerated hourglass shape. But in their quest for Victorian-era proportions, waist trainers may experience shortness of breath, bruising, and rib pain. Individuals with bowel disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome may be especially prone to pain or discomfort as a result of the increased intraabdominal pressure.