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The right panties can make or break your outfit or your day depending upon how they fit and feel. Panties are available in a variety of fabrics including both nylon and cotton. Your body, wardrobe and your personal comfort level, as well as your activity, are all important factors to consider when selecting undergarments.

The Benefits of Cotton

Cotton panties are durable, washable and inexpensive. Many women find them more comfortable and available in a wide range of styles from thongs to boy shorts and briefs. Cotton is a natural fiber that "breathes", eliminating trapped moisture in delicate areas when worn as an undergarment. Cotton panties may reduce the risk of yeast infections, chafing or discomfort because of this. While cotton panties work well for many women, they may be bulky, more prone to visible panty lines, and can be an uncomfortable choice for long workouts.

Nylon Panties

Nylon and similar synthetic fabrics produce a thinner panty, often with a great deal of stretch. These may be quite comfortable and blend into your skin, allowing you to wear a variety of styles without creating panty lines. Many of these fabrics have excellent wicking properties, pulling sweat and dampness away from your skin. This is more comfortable during warm weather or workouts. While nylon panties are a comfortable choice, they may be less durable, prone to runs and snags, or require line drying rather than machine drying.

Health and Well-Being

While panty lines, wicking and comfort are all important aspects to choosing new panties, health officials, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommend cotton panties or panties with a cotton crotch to prevent yeast infections. Tight, synthetic fabrics, including nylon panties, may contribute to yeast infections. If you're prone to yeast infections, consider wearing cotton panties for everyday and limiting nylon ones to workouts or outfits that require a stretch panty to keep the panty lines to a minimum. Also, avoid wearing panties at all during bedtime.

Panty Styles and Fit

Both nylon and cotton panties come in a variety of styles. These vary in coverage, from very bare to quite modest. Briefs vary somewhat in terms of rise and leg cut; however, they offer substantial coverage and are often considered the most comfortable choice. Hipsters and boy-cut panties are a more contemporary choice with a low-rise and low-cut leg. Bikinis are much barer with a low rise, relatively high cut leg and minimal coverage. The thong eliminates the back of the panty and any risk of visible panty lines. You may, after some experimentation, find that one style is more comfortable in cotton and another in nylon.

About the Author

Michelle Powell-Smith

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.