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Clothing to protect you from sun, bacteria and insects

July 24, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
When the sun is out most people know to slather up with sunscreen. Now retail manufacturers are creating clothing to prevent sunburn, in addition to other protections.

"It's not sticky. It's not gooey. It's fashionable and if I have a choice between shirts I might as well get something that has added protection," said Pasadena resident Judy Ahl.

"It's actually the fabric that they use, which is usually polyester," said dermatologist Dr. Shirley Chi. "And it's also the weave, which is a tighter weave. And also the brighteners that they use to brighten the clothing."

Chi is a fan. She says many don't apply sunscreen properly, evenly, or use enough. So clothing with a "UPF" tag (which means UV protection) is worth a little extra.

Sweat reduces sunblock properties by about 50 percent, so a tight weave polyester is a good bet, but don't assume your clothing will do all the work.

"You can't just go without sunscreen if you're wearing a sleeveless shirt," said Chi.

What about antimicrobial clothing? Dr. Chi is not a fan because of antibiotic overuse, which has been shown to contribute to resistance.

However, much of today's exercise-wear has dry-wicking technology, which helps cut down on moisture and bacteria.

If you protect yourself against sun and bacteria, why not bugs?

"It's time to annoy them for a change." That's the slogan for Insect Shield Technology, put into a line of clothing to help protect against, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes that might be carrying dangerous disease.

"Bug-resistant clothing," said Chi. "Now that's a new thing that just came on the market, and what they do with the clothing is they actually impregnate the clothing or soak the clothing in permethrin, which is a chemical that kills most insects and larva."

Permethrin is odor-free, and Chi says it works, but she says unless you're a hardcore hiker or live in an endemic area, topicals like DEET can do the trick.


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