Nursing is sweaty work. Nurses and medical professionals on the floor of any hospital or clinic are constantly on their feet – running to codes, rushing labs (literally), and walking their rounds. We think nursing should be included as an olympic sport.

Just like professional athletes: nurses, doctors, and med techs need to be outfitted with the right gear, and that includes their clothing. Scrubs should be high-performing, comfortable, and – perhaps most importantly – breathable. Because unlike athletes, nurses are coming face-to-face with patients and their family members, and must prioritize their comfort and make a great impression every time. And body odor can become a problem if you’re wearing scrubs that don’t allow your bits to breathe.

What Causes Body Odor for Nurses?

We’re all covered in bacteria. As a nurse, you’ll be all too familiar with this fact. And some of this bacteria feeds on human sweat. When bacteria consumes sweat, it breaks it down into amino acids which cause the unpleasant smell we perceive. The more we move, the more we sweat, the happier the bacteria, and the smellier we get.

Factors that contribute to BO include hair, hygiene, and unbreathable fabric. Clothing which doesn’t allow airflow traps sweat on the body and slows its evaporation. This gives the bacteria more time to consume the sweat, resulting in worse odors. Synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester which are not specifically designed for physical activity can increase body odor for this exact reason.

How Your Scrubs Can Prevent Body Odor (BO)

Wearing breathable scrubs to work will help you stop BO in its tracks. But they need to be the RIGHT breathable scrubs. There are a few things you can look for while you’re shopping that will help you find them quickly and easily.

  1. Natural Fibers – Always take plant based fabric over synthetic. Natural cloth has a more uneven fiber structure than the petroleum-based man-made version, which means it breathes better and keeps you cooler during strenuous activity. Plus, it absorbs moisture rather than repelling it – this means you won’t be sitting in your own sweat all day, as your plant-based garment will be taking care of it for you. Some popular fabrics for natural scrubs include cotton, linen, and hemp.
  2. Loose Fit – Try to go for scrubs which have a little wiggle room in them. Not only will you be able to move around more easily, but a relaxed fit lets more air in, keeping you cool and dry.
  3. Designed for Sweat – Many companies that make scrubs use fabrics which are made to ‘wick moisture’. In practical terms, this mean that the material in question has a looser weave, allowing more air in, and more evaporated sweat out. This is a highly desirable quality which may be found in both natural or synthetic fibers, to suit all budgets.

Breathable Nursing Scrubs on the Market

  1. Cusco Oversize-Pocket Scrub Top from FIGS – We’re starting off this list with a rule-breaker. This top is made from a polyester/rayon blend, but is designed with moisture-wicking technology which reviewers swear by. A relaxed, structured fit helps to keep the wearer breezy and comfortable on their rounds. Pair with the Corinto Scrub Pant for a complete look that will leave you feeling like an Olympian.
  2. Linen Designer Scrub Top from Blue Sky Scrubs – Don’t be fooled by this simple cut. No shortcuts were taken in the making of this luxurious (yet affordable!) scrub top. Linen, a fabric derived from the flax plant, is ideal for medical wear as it is durable, quick-drying, and breathable. This garment beats out cotton counterparts for its ability to not only wick moisture, but help it evaporate at lightning speed. Blue Sky also offers matching Linen Scrub Pants.
  3. EDS Signature V-Neck Scrub Top from Dickie’s – This classic scrub top ticks all the boxes. Loose unisex fit, cotton-rich fabric, and ventilation slats on the side provide the ultimate utilitarian garment for high-action working environments. A super affordable addition to your closet, it can be purchased in 20 different colors for between 12.99 and 15.99 on the Dickie’s website.
  4. Cinched V-Neck Top from JAANUU – Fabric engineering at its finest. Not only do JAANUU’s garments have almost magical moisture-wicking abilities, but their material is actually anti-microbial. With one of these updated takes on the traditional scrub, you’ll be armed and dangerous in the fight against odor-causing bacteria. Add more to your arsenal with their Logo 3 Pocket Pant.
  5. Horizon Scrub Top from Medelita – Straight from the source: Medelita says that their fabric “…Is moisture wicking and keeps you cool and dry; anti-microbial; fast-drying; [and] prevents and repels odors and organic stains.” An athletic fit contributes ultimate breathability to this highly-rated cotton scrub top.

You don’t have to resign yourself to swampy an uncomfortable scrubs. There’s a world of fabric and design out there that will help you feel breezy and light while you’re on the job.

Medely is a nurse staffing company that helps nurses get into positions that work with their schedule, leaving you more time to curate your professional closet.

On a tight budget? No worries! Check out our other article, Cheap Nursing Scrubs, to find scrubs that are easy on the eyes AND easy on your wallet, or our list of cute scrubs and where to find them.