Wearing second-hand clothing, whether bought from peddlers or salvaged from dumpsters, morgues and cemeteries, can expose people to conditions such as dermatitis, ringworm, scabies and even gonorrhea, Mexico's IMSS healthcare agency says.

"The clothes can be infested with mites, lice, can contain some kind of chemical and even bacteria," the IMSS said in a statement.

Many poor and working-class Mexicans buy clothes from street vendors whose stock consists largely of used garments imported in bulk from the United States.

It is best to avoid buying second-hand clothes altogether, Dr. Diana Castillo Martinez, a dermatologist at the IMSS' Zona 2-A Troncoso General Hospital, said.

For those who do buy used garments, she advised washing them thoroughly, and said shoes should be left out in the sun for several days before wearing.

Under no circumstances, according to Castillo, should consumers purchase underwear from any informal outlet. Without proper cleaning, second-hand undergarments can spread gonorrhea, "a chronic illness that is difficult to diagnose."

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