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Sun, Dec 27, 2009
Urban, The Straits Times
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Looking good has never hurt so bad
by Nora Farhain


The killer look: Large, heavy earrings, necklaces and bangles that make a fashion statement.

Potential health hazards:

Scratches and injuries: The sharp ends might hook or scratch your chin or neck.

Tearing of ear lobes: Earrings that pull at your lobes can cause tears. Even small rips can cause infections.

Ulcers, bleeding and infection: These are caused by constant pressure from clip-on or magnetic earrings.

How to wear them safely:

The heavier your necklace or earrings, the shorter the time you should wear them – no more than two to three hours a day.

Chunky necklaces can cause neck strain, muscle pull, spasms and, in extreme cases, hunched shoulders and a strained back.

If there is bleeding, pain or discharge, see a doctor before you wear the accessories again.

Do not wear clothes made of materials that can be easily snagged by earrings.

Hoop earrings have better weight distribution between the front and the back.


The killer look: High heels that elongate your legs and frame and put a sexy spring in your step.

Potential health hazards:

Calluses, corns and toe deformities: High heels, especially those with narrow fronts, squash your toes into the front of the shoe, making them curl up.

Prolonged wear can also cause problems such as nail infections, calluses, bunions and deformed toes.

Shorter Achilles tendons: The Achilles tendon – located at the back of the ankle – in those who wear high heels over a prolonged period tend to shorten and tighten.

This can cause heel pain as the tendons are unable to stretch fully.

Osteoarthritis: High heels increase joint pressure at the knees by 25 per cent compared to flat shoes.

This can wear down joints and weaken cartilage.

Wearing heels also increases wear-and-tear problems in the lower back because it causes greater pressure in the ankles, knees and hips.

This pressure is transferred to the axial skeleton when you walk.

How to wear them safely:

If you are on your feet most of the time, you should wear heels no more than 3cm high.

Do not keep heels on for more than three consecutive hours.

If you feel pain or get blisters, stop wearing them and let your feet rest.

Wear comfortable shoes with low heels on most days and save your stilettos for special occasions.


The killer look: Garments that fit like a second skin such as skinny jeans, latex leggings, corsets and tight belts.

Potential health hazards:

Contact dermatitis: Prolonged contact with materials such as nickel or latex can cause itching and rashes.

Contact uriticaria: Tight clothes can lead to small, red swellings on the skin.

Localised pain and paresthesia, or “pins and needles”: Ill-fitting clothes can cause numbness or reduced sensation due to restricted blood circulation.

Fungal infections: Squeezing into tight garments for long hours in Singapore’s humid climate can result in fungal infections, including yeast infection in women, especially if you get sweaty.

How to wear them safely:

Use cotton underwear as it absorbs sweat better.

If you must wear snug-fitting clothes for a special occasion, avoid having them on for more than three hours at a stretch and opt for fabrics that absorb sweat.

Change out of sweat-soaked clothes whenever possible. Do not wear wet or damp clothes for more than an hour.


The killer look: Trendy big bags with metal trimmings that can fit everything plus your kitchen sink.

Potential health hazards:

Poor posture and muscle aches: Regular use of bags that are too bulky or heavy can put too much strain on one side of the body.

The extra load adds pressure to the spine and increases the risk of neck and back pain.

Numbness and paresthesia, or “pins and needles”, in the arms and upper body:

The weight of the bag on one shoulder may pull on the nerves on that side of the body, causing these symptoms.

How to carry them safely:

A bag’s size should be proportionate to your build. Your bag and contents should amount to no more than 10per cent of your body weight.

A bag with wider straps is more comfortable than one with thinner ones as the former will distribute the weight of the bag evenly across a larger area, resulting in less pressure on your shoulders.

Choose bags that you can sling diagonally across your body as this distributes the weight more evenly.

When buying a bag, note its weight when empty. Some materials or embellishments make the bag heavy even when it is empty.

Information from:

Dr Eileen Tan, dermatologist at Eileen Tan Skin, Laser and Hair Transplant Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre

Assistant Professor Wong Soon Tee, consultant dermatologist at Raffles Aesthetics at Raffles Hospital

Dr Lim Lian Arn, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Raffles Orthopaedic Centre at Raffles Hospital

Dr David Wong, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Raffles Orthopaedic Centre at Raffles Hospital

Dr Karen Soh, specialist in anti-ageing and wellness at the Pacific Healthcare Specialist Centre at Paragon Medical Centre

This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

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