Taking off your underwear is liberating. Your balls can finally breathe!
Surveys show that between 5% and 7% of men don’t wear underwear at all. And they just might be onto something because going commando can definitely be beneficial. It can allow more air circulation, lower the risk for infections, and even help with sperm production and fertility.
But more importantly, going commando just feels good! So, it’s easy to see why some guys want to feel that freedom all the time. In fact, there isn’t any medical reason that states you need underwear for support, says Jamin Brahmbhatt, M.D., co-director of the PUR urology clinic in Clermont, Florida.
Go ahead and strip off those boxers or briefs—just make sure you follow these rules first.
Chafing can haunt you no matter what you wear (yes, even baggy pants can be trouble). Without underwear, you don’t have any protection between the outer layer of your skin and the “harsh reality of the fabric and seams of your pants,” says Mona Gohara, M.D., an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University.
This can cause painful skin irritation. So before you go commando, apply a thin layer of baby powder or petroleum jelly to your groin. It’ll help form a barrier to minimize the friction, Dr. Gohara says. Thinking ahead of time can also spare you some pain. Before going to bed, apply a moisturizing cream to promote skin healing overnight as well as prevent any chafing for the next day, according to dermatologist Hadley King, M.D.
Just because you’re freeballing, don’t assume the possibility of jock itch is out the window. Underwear or not, men are more prone to the condition simply because of the groin’s anatomy. Jock itch—a skin condition that presents as an itchy, red, ring-shaped rash—occurs when you’re exposed to fungus, says Dr. Gohara.
And fungi love to hang in warm, humid environments—just like the inside of your pants when your balls are sweating all over them.
Jock itch can be pretty uncomfortable and awkward to deal with. To fight off fungi, keep your boys dry with just a sprinkle of baby powder in the morning. If it gets too annoying, use a prescription antifungal wash to clean the area and finish off with an antifungal cream. But most importantly, regularly wash your pants. Which brings us to our next rule:
If you normally wear a pair of pants four times before washing them, dial that down to just two. Your genitals carry a lot of bacteria, so it’s important to keep your clothes fresh after they’ve been worn. Going commando will cut your wear-to-cleaning cycle in half, says David Burrows, cofounder of the app-based dry-cleaning service Laundri.
When fabric sits directly next to your skin, it makes your pants dirtier—and smellier—faster. If you wear dry clean-only fabrics like wool, this can get pricey, says Burrows.
Pants made from heavier, thicker fabrics can usually last longer between washes than lighter, thinner pants, he says.
Although the thought is pretty gross, your underwear soaks up the sweat in your crotch area that gathers throughout the day. When you don’t have extra fabric to absorb moisture around your crotch, you end up with nasty sweat stains, says M. Jay Singleton, a men’s style consultant and founder of Urban Squire Club.
These stains are more visible on lighter fabrics and colors, like khakis, he says.
As with chafing or jock itch prevention, you’ll want to sprinkle a dash of baby powder on your privates to save you from any embarrassing marks. This will absorb moisture so stains won’t form.
If you start to worry about stains lingering in your clothing, here’s one tip: rub a teaspoon of dish detergent mixed with two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide into the stained area and let it sit for 30 minutes. “Then wash the garment as you normally do in cool water with your regular detergent,” Burrows says.
Skinny-cut pants, especially those made from heavier fabrics like denim, may cut into your crotch when you sit down, says Singleton. And the stronger dyes rubbing against you might lead to some temporary skin stains from your favorite dark wash denim. Tight pants can also cause the same irritation and lack of ventilation as underwear.
To make matters worse, if your fabric isn’t thick enough (or if you’re wearing too light a color), you could give everyone an eyeful.
To mask weird lines or bulges, wear wool or heavier cotton pants, says Ray Li, CEO and founder of the men’s clothing line Suitable.
Your crotch area is teeming with loads of bacteria, including the kind that can trigger diarrhea.
So this is obvious, but don’t try on new pants while going commando. Some of those fecal bacteria can transfer onto the fabric, says Sarah Council, Ph.D., a microbiologist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Genomics & Microbiology Research Lab. Not only can you transfer those bacteria, but you can be exposed to bacteria from whoever else tried on the same piece of clothing.
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