Friday, May 2, 2014

Fashionable Health Hazards

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It is inevitable that we are judged by the way we dress. People often make judgments on others, about who they are, their line of business and their competencies from their physical appearances. However, many trendsetters are unwittingly paying the high price of fashion with their health.

While we all want to look professional, it is important to remember that dressing up for work does not imply sacrificing your personal comfort or putting your health at risk.

Here are some common fashion health hazards office workers should be cautious about committing.

Constricting Clothes
Some people tend to choose fashion over comfort. This is the reason why they can put up with the discomfort that comes hand in hand with tight clothing.

Many males suffer from itchy groin or itchy scrotum, with or without rash, because of ill-fitting clothes and non-cotton based clothes.

“Tight fitting jeans or pants often aggravate their problems as the groin is more humid and warm and there is increased rubbing and friction between the fabric and the irritated skin,” said A/Prof Wong Soon Tee, a Consultant Dermatologist with Raffles Aesthetics.

Tight belts also interfere with breathing and this result in breathlessness and giddiness. One may also suffer from heartburn as a result, as digestion is restricted when the belt wrapped too tightly around the waist.

Tip: Wear pants or underpants that are cotton-based, more airy and not so tight fitting.

Killer Shoes
Does your choice of footwear leave your feet protesting in pain? Do not simply ignore painful corns, calluses and blisters as they are warning signs that you are not making the best choice for footwear. Put your best foot forward by listening to them, instead of fashion guidebooks.

High heels put a lot of pressure on the toes and are especially demanding on the spine and muscles that support it. Your spine suffers as a result and you experience serious back pain.

“As a doctor, I would advise women to minimise the occasions they wear heels. High heels cause quite a lot of problems over the long term. By the time you get knee, ankle and back pains from wearing heels, the damage is already done,” said Dr Lim Lian Arn, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon of Raffles Orthopaedic Centre.

Even wearing a pair of two-inch heels subjects the balls of your feet to 50 percent more pressure as compared to wearing flats. The increased pressure can lead to bunions, bone deformities and osteoarthritis of the knee and lower back pain.

On the other hand, shoes that are too flat are also not ideal for the feet. “Wear shoes with two to three centimetres of elevation,” Dr Lim advised.

Dr Lim also explained that high heels increase knee joint pressures by up to 25 percent. Over time, this increased pressure can lead to osteoarthritis and that causes long-term pain and problems.

Pointy shoes are another cause of bunions and blisters. Cramping of the toes may also cause hammertoe, the condition where one or both joints of the toes are bent. The joint may become dislocated over time, causing great pain.

Tip: Keep the duration of wearing high heels to the maximum of three consecutive hours.

Hair-Dos (And Don’ts)
All of us have bad hair days. In our quest to ensure that our hair looks good, we pile on different hair products on our hair. These products include hair sprays, mousse, gels, and a variety of hair enhancers.

“Products which contain alcohol may dry the hair shaft, leading to easy breakage due to fragility.” Said Dr Chris Foo, Consultant Dermatologist with Raffles Skin Centre. “If one were to use high-hold stiff styling products, this may precipitate hair breakage when trying to restyle the hair with combing.”

The usage of hair products is generally considered safe for most individuals. However, some may develop allergic contact dermatitis to them due to the chemicals found in such products. Dr Foo explained that this condition will manifest as an itchy red rash on the scalp.

Also, while some hairstyles may make you look neat and professional, pulling your hair back too tightly can hurt your scalp. Any hairstyle that pulls on the scalp for a long period of time can also cause hair loss. This is a medical condition known as Traction Alopecia.

Said Dr Foo, “The pattern of hair loss is often very distinctive and reflects the distribution of the traction. Therefore, the diagnosis is often not difficult for the dermatologist.”

While such instances of hair loss are reversible in the short term, prolonged and continued periods of wearing such hair-styles can also lead to permanent hair loss and scarring. Styles to be careful with include tight ponytails, buns and braids.

Tip: If you experience signs such as hair breakage around the scalp or random bald patches, stop wearing the offending hairstyle immediately and observe to see if the situation improves.

Heavy Bags
Super sized bags are made stylish by the likes of Kate Moss and Lindsay Lohan. While big bags are fashionable this season, they can also be huge fashion hazards.

The trouble with carrying a big bag is that you will inevitably fill it. Men are just as likely to commit this health hazard as they often carry their laptops and documents around in sling-bags. The key issue here is not the size of your bag, but the weight of it.

Heavy bags could give you arm, neck and shoulder pain. Carrying the bag on one side causes neck, shoulder and arm muscles to stretch as the shoulder takes the strain. Stress can build in our necks and this lead to tension, aches, pain and stiffness.

“In severe cases, the pain will extend from the neck to the back of the head, i.e. the occipital area, to cause genuine headache. Such severe cases are considered cervicogenic headache,” said Dr Alvin Seah, Consultant Neurologist with Raffles Internal Medicine Centre.
Dr Seah also explains that carrying heavy loads for a long time unbalances the load on the spine and causes imbalanced pull of the muscles on the spine. This can cause spasm of the neck muscles which can lead to painful sensation.

Tip: When buying a bag, take note of the weight of the empty bag. Some materials or charms make the bag heavy even when it is not filled.

This article is provided by Raffles Medical Group. For more information visit


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