Visiting the gym is part of a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, gyms can also be breeding grounds for germs. An infection or illness can keep you out of the gym and derail your fitness goals. Here’s what you need to know about gym infection prevention and the most common bugs:
1. MRSA or Staph
Staph are common bacteria that live on the skin or in the nose, and can be transferred to any surface. Many of us are unaware that we are carriers of staph infections. When these bacteria get into open wounds, painful bacterial skin infections can result. MRSA is a resistant form of bacteria that does not respond well to antibiotics.
A staph infection may appear as a rash or boil that’s accompanied by a fever. The infection does not go away on its own and requires speedy medical attention.
You can help reduce your risk of contracting these infections in a few ways:
- Ask about the gym’s MRSA clean-up policy. Many gyms put out disinfectant and ask members to clean off the machines after each workout, but staff members should also be frequently cleaning off machines. To be on the safe side, clean your machine before and after using it.
- Keep all wounds covered with a bandage until they heal. Shower promptly after each workout and apply antibiotic cream or ointment to wounds.
2. Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot doesn’t present any immediate danger, but it can be unpleasant. Often, this fungal infection is caused by tight-fitting shoes and causes itching and scaling. If left untreated, it can spread to your nails, which often requires a visit to the doctor.
Good hygiene is the best way to prevent athlete’s foot. Fungus like dark, moist places, so shower after each workout and dry off as much as possible. If showering at the gym, bring a clean pair of socks and don’t put on the sweaty ones. Opt for loose-fitting, comfortable clothing and shoes.
Ringworm is not at all what name implies. It’s not actually a worm, but rather a fungal infection that takes on a ring shape on your skin. It spreads across the top layer of skin and it usually causes itching. Ringworm isn’t dangerous, but it’s uncomfortable and can be embarrassing. It may occur when you wear tight-fitting gym clothes, sweat, and neglect to change your clothes. It may also occur if your skin contacts a gym surface that’s dirty or wet. If you get ringworm, a visit to your doctor is in order to get a prescription for a fungicide that will eliminate the source of the rash.
To prevent ringworm, shower after hitting the gym and wear looser clothes. Avoid throwing towels on dirty surfaces and then using them on your body – for example, by washing your face.
Gyms are an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but they’re also a common source of infection. Clean all gym surfaces before and after using them and practice good hygiene. By observing these tips, you can effectively reduce your risk of these unpleasant conditions.