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Any Benefits to Being Buck Naked?

Q. I love walking around the house naked. Does nudism offer any health benefits?
-- Matt C.


I'm sure that a committed nudist would tell you nudism offers many health benefits. To some extent, I agree. However, I think most of the benefits are psychological and have more to do with fully enjoying nature, your body, and a sense of freedom. Nudists maintain that clothes aren't good for us -- and it is true that the garments we wear limit the flow of air over the skin and interfere with the evaporation of perspiration. While that certainly doesn't add up to a health problem, it really is unpleasant to be trapped in sweaty, smelly clothes. (By the way, I think that the contention that tight shorts and trousers raise the temperature of the testicles and interfere with male fertility -- while technically true -- is not much of a problem for most men.)

From a medical perspective, the only benefit to physical health I came across while researching your question has to do with an annoying disorder called "sea bather's eruption." The rash is caused by microscopic, stinging jellyfish found along the Atlantic coast of Florida from March to August. These pesky critters get trapped under bathing suits and retaliate with bites that are very itchy. Swimming in the nude does offer some protection -- or you can stay out of the water altogether.

I want to point out one real risk of nudism: The danger of a very bad sunburn on skin that hasn't previously been exposed. A day at a nude beach may free you from inhibitions, but make sure you cover every bare inch of your body with sunscreen -- and reapply it generously after swimming or if you're sweating heavily (and every two hours, regardless). I would also recommend wearing a hat, even if it is against the rules.

If you're interested in pursuing a nudist lifestyle, you can find lots of information on the Internet, including lists of nudist organizations and nude camps and beaches throughout the world.

Dr. Andrew Weil

İCopyright 2000 Asklepios Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: All material provided in the Ask Dr. Weil program is provided for educational purposes only. Consult your own physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.

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