Avoiding Skin Infections at the Gym

The beginning of every year brings a great opportunity to set new goals for positive growth. Many people make a resolution to exercise more regularly, and in the winter months, that often entails more hours spent at the gym. While exercise has a lot of benefits, including increased energy levels, healthier muscles and bones, and a better mood, those hours at the gym might put you at risk of contracting a skin infection.

Gyms are often warm, moist, and sweaty, making them a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Before you increase your time spent on exercise equipment and in the locker room, take a look at these steps to reduce your risk of catching ringworm, athlete’s foot, or another skin disease.

Inspect the gym’s sanitation

Do you notice that other exercisers make a habit of wiping down the equipment after they use it, no matter how long they were on it? That’s a good sign that your gym prioritizes cleanliness. Before committing to a gym, make sure the equipment areas have disinfectant wipes or spray readily accessible, and that the locker rooms and bathrooms are stocked with hand sanitizer or liquid soap.

Before using the pool or hot tub, ask gym employees if the chemicals are tested twice a day to make sure they are at the correct levels.

Protect your skin

There are a lot of factors that are out of your control at the gym, such as moisture and other exercisers’ cleanliness, but there are elements you can protect. If you have a cut or open wound, cover it with a bandage and avoid using saunas, steam rooms and hot tubs until it heals.

Practice cleanliness

Good personal hygiene can make a big difference in fighting possible infection. Disinfect every piece of equipment and weight before and after using them, and consider using a clean towel as an additional barrier between you and the equipment. Wear shoes in all common areas of the gym, especially locker rooms and wet areas. Clean your gym bag often, and change your clothes and socks and shower as soon as you can after working out.

Bring your own equipment

Gym mats used for yoga and other classes may not be thoroughly cleaned between every use. When you use your own mat, you can guarantee that you aren’t sharing germs with anyone else.

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussion about medical, cosmetic, mohs, and surgical dermatology. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed dermatologist or other health care worker.