What To Wear Under Scrubs To Keep Warm

doctor in scrubs is sitting on the sofa

Scrubs are not normally known for being warm, even in the summer when you work in an air-conditioned hospital or clinic. But in the winter or cooler seasons of the year, scrubs can be downright cold most of the time. What can you wear under your scrubs to keep you warm?

You can wear silk or cotton thermals under scrubs to keep warm during the cooler seasons. Leggings, street pants, or form-fitting t-shirts or tank tops can also be worn under scrubs. You can also wear scrub jackets or lab coats over your scrubs if the clinic is particularly chilly. 

Scrubs are meant to protect your normal clothes from the bacteria you come in contact with during your shift, which is why your underclothes should be form-fitting. To learn more about what to wear under your scrubs to keep warm, keep reading.

Choose Form-Fitting Underclothes

Medical professionals like nurses and aides wear scrubs to keep any bacteria and other pathogens from your street clothes transferring to the patients. So, if you wear clothes under your scrubs, they need to be form-fitting but not tight.

This is because you don’t want anything getting under your clothes, nor do you want to transfer anything to the patient.

Scrub undershirts are specifically designed to be form-fitting and are perfect to wear under your scrubs. You can either wear long or short sleeves, depending on the season.

Cotton Thermals vs. Silk Thermals

The question amongst nurses is whether cotton or silk thermals are better to wear under scrubs. In some areas where the weather isn’t as cold, silk thermals work better. While silk can be warmer, it doesn’t wick away moisture from sweat that easily. 

While they might be cooler than silk, cotton thermals actually soak up moisture better and keep it away from your skin. And while you’re sometimes running from patient to patient, cotton might be better at keeping you warmer and drier.

Leggings Or Street Pants

Another question that nurses have is whether or not you should wear street pants or leggings under your scrubs. Now, wearing jeans under your scrubs is not recommended, as it could create weird lines under your scrub pants. 

Patients expect professionalism in dress and actions, so street pants should not be worn under scrubs. However, if you’re rushing to work and it’s cold, you could potentially wear sweatpants over your scrubs until you get to work, then remove them once there. 

You could either wear thermal underwear or leggings under your scrub pants, as this creates a smooth appearance.

For White Scrubs, Choose White Underclothes

team of medical doctors are smiling while standing in the hospital

White scrubs have a unique problem. They tend to be somewhat transparent and will show the colors of your underclothes. For example, if you wear gray thermals under your white scrubs, the white will look dingy white at best, or it will show every line and color underneath. 

To combat this problem, you’ll need to wear white everything, including your underwear. White thermals on top and bottom, white or skin color underwear, and for the ladies, a white bra will keep the white scrubs the correct color. 

Summer Scrubs

While you could get away with wearing just your normal underwear under your scrubs during the summer, you may want to refrain from this, as the scrubs might irritate your skin as you’re rushing from patient to patient.

For the summer, you might want to switch from a long-sleeved thermal top to a short-sleeve scrub top or even a tank top. Bike shorts are often worn under scrub pants to keep the underwear lines smooth.

How to Avoid Underwear Lines In Scrubs

Underwear lines (otherwise known as panty lines) are not professional and make a uniform less professional. But scrub pants are thin anyway, and if they are too tight, they will show every line and crease. 

The way to avoid that from happening is to ensure you have the following:

  • Make sure your scrub pants are not too tight across your bottom, as that will show the lines. While you don’t want baggy pants, they should fit snugly enough to look professional yet not tight enough to show lines.
  • Wear thin leggings or bike shorts underneath your scrub pants, as this will smooth out any lines that might show.

While lines aren’t terrible, it might be embarrassing at times when you’re with patients, and someone might comment on it. Better to be safe than sorry and follow the above tips.

What To Wear Over Scrubs

So far, we’ve talked about what to wear under your scrubs to stay warm. But what about what to wear over your scrubs? Clinics and hospitals can sometimes get very cold, depending on where you work, what you’re doing, and how active you are at the moment. 

You might want to wear a scrub jacket or a lab coat to stay warm in these situations. Most scrub jackets come in several colors and styles and fit snugly to keep germs and bacteria at bay.

female in scrubs standing, rests her hand on the table in her office

Let’s talk more about these both.

Scrub Jackets

Scrub jackets provide extra warmth when it’s cold outside or when the air conditioning is running. They also have pockets in the front for your medical needs. The sleeves are tapered and sewn into a ribbed cuff, making them perfect for working with patients and protecting yourself and them.

Lab Coats

Lab coats are usually white and also have pockets for your medical supplies. They provide extra warmth like scrub jackets and protect your scrubs from anything that might happen during your shift. 


Depending on your department and the dress code, you might be able to get away with wearing warmer clothes under your scrubs to keep warm. However, just remember that some departments like the operating room do not allow this. So you must defer to your department’s dress code before wearing thermals or leggings under your scrubs.

Whatever you choose to wear under your scrubs, make sure they pull off the professional yet casual look. After all, you want patients to notice your expertise, not your outfit.

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