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  5. 5 Skin Infections You Can Pick Up At The Gym And How To Prevent Them

You know that the most effective exercises that you do at the gym helps to relieve stress and pep up your energy levels. But do you know all such sweat inducing workouts can cause you skin infections too?

While working out at the gym ensures several health benefits, it can also be a source of multiple skin infections. One of the most common infections is sweat rashes. Fortunately, there are easy hacks you can resort to in order to prevent such infections and workout comfortably.

Scroll down to know what causes such infections and how you can prevent them.

Can You Get A Rash From Gym Equipment?

At the gym, you come in contact with different workout equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, yoga mats, etc. Some of the equipment harbour germs that directly come in contact with your skin while you are working out. Such germs can eventually lead to certain skin conditions. Besides, the fitness equipment at the gym is used by several types of people and hence contracting infection from any equipment is more common.

Other than this, your gym clothes like latex gloves, sports bra, tight yoga pants can also cause you skin rashes or infections. The constant friction between your skin and the tight latex-based clothes (found in gymming costumes) can result in itchiness or red skin. Extensive workout sessions in tight clothes can result in excessive sweating, eventually leading to fungal infection.

Most of you might use deodorant and lotion pre or post-workout to control the body odour caused by sweating. But in several instances, these lotions and deodorant become the source of irritation and discomfort in your skin. You may also inhale germs from the public bathroom or locker room of your gym. Once your body detects a pathogen attack, your immune system starts fighting against the germs and as a result, your body develops allergic reactions.

You may also develop skin infections by consuming specific food supplements as suggested by your instructor. Hence, it’s important to keep a check on your diet. If you are already allergic to a particular ingredient, consuming it might further aggravate your skin condition.

What Infections Can You Get From The Gym?

ringworm infection on skin isolated

1. Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal infection that appears on your skin as a circular, itchy, red rash. It can occur at any part of your body, including your scalp, and cause severe itching. It may also spread from one part of the body to another. Ringworm thrives in warm and moist places, hence, sweaty equipment or benches can be the risky points.

If you have red itchy skin or circular patches on your skin, take immediate measures to cure them. These are the symptoms of ringworm and it usually appears within 4 to 14 days after you come in touch with a ringworm fungus [1]. You may use antifungal creams or lotions to treat them.

athlete's foot having fungal infection

2. Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is also a common type of fungal infection that occurs on your feet. In this skin condition, itchy, peeling skin appears between your toes. It’s caused by a fungi called Trichophyton rubrum that’s also responsible for causing ringworm infection. While working out, your feet remain moist due to sweat and that’s a breeding ground for the fungi. You may contract this infection while walking on infected surfaces, using dirty yoga mats, etc. You may develop a burning sensation in the affected area, however, skin creams might help. Besides, make sure to keep your toe clean and dry to avoid further spread of the infection. Also, be aware if anyone in your family or gym class is suffering from it because an athlete’s foot is contagious [2].

folliculitis inflammatory glands

3. Folliculitis

Folliculitis is a painful, itchy skin condition that appears as red bumps. It’s quite similar to acne. You may also experience a burning sensation on the affected skin. [3]

In this condition, the hair follicles are affected by bacteria, causing infection. It can occur on your neck, armpits, thighs, etc. You may develop this infection if you sweat excessively or by using dirty equipment. Try not to wear tight fitting clothes as that might cause friction and further aggravate it.

fasciitis wart on foot

4. Plantar Warts

Plantar warts are nothing new but warts (lumpy growth in the skin) that occur on soles of your feet. It is popularly known as verrucae warts which are caused by human papillomavirus. This particular virus attacks the bottom of your feet and causes warts. You may contract the virus from warm, humid places like the locker room, pool, etc. If you have an open wound or cut, it is easier for the virus to enter your body. Mostly, plantar warts are painful and cause difficulty in walking. The first sign of plantar wart would indicate tenderness or pain in your feet [4].

staph infection behind ear on woman

5. Staph

Staph, a commonly contracted infection at the gym, develops when your body is attacked by the Staphylococcus bacteria. Staph starts from a small area of your skin but it can spread if not treated. It looks like a red open sore and feels tender. Inflamed skin can be painful and itchy. You may also experience fever, chills, sweats and weakness. Staph infection is contagious and spread fast [5]. It usually transmits through physical touch, but working out on a contained mat or bench can too transmit the infection. If you have an open wound, the bacteria can enter and multiply, making it life-threatening. Hence, consult a doctor if you have any of such symptoms.

How to Prevent Skin Infections At The Gym?

1. Wear Loose Clothes 

Try to wear loose clothes while working out so that your clothes do not rub against your skin [6]. Also, wearing loose clothes will allow air to enter your body and dry out the sweat. That way there won’t be any growth of germs in your body.

2. Cover Open Wounds

Always cover your wounds when you go for a workout. Bacteria can enter your body through the cut and nick much quicker than other ways. Also, avoid using swimming pools, hot tubs and steam rooms till your cut is completely healed.

3. Disinfect Equipment 

Always disinfect equipment at the gym before and after using it. You can use a spray or wipes to clean it. While working out, try to use towels between your skin and the surface to avoid direct contact with germs.

4. Wash Your Hands 

Wash your hands using soap and water or at least sanitize them once you are done working out.

5. Take A Shower Soon After Workout 

Taking a shower soon after your workout is the best way to keep out the germs and bacterias from your body. Use a fresh towel to soak up the water from your body and wear clean clothes afterwards.

6. Wear Shoes 

Start wearing shoes not just in your workout session but throughout the time you are in your gym class. For example, going to the bathroom, steam room, locker room etc. to avoid stepping into contaminated surfaces.

7. Get Treatment For Infections 

If you experience any signs or symptoms of skin infections and rashes, get it treated immediately. Prolonged skin infections can be alarming. Check with a dermatologist and do as suggested.

Wrapping Up

Working out at the gym is fun unless you contract any skin infection. Gym equipment harbors more germs than other things in the gym as they are used by multiple people at once. Make sure you disinfect your equipment before and after your workout sessions to protect your skin. Also, wear loose clothes to let your skin breathe. Avoid sharing your personal things with others to avoid spreading germs. In case of any severity, contact a dermatologist immediately. In a nutshell, your personal hygiene is what matters the most. Hence, make sure to practice healthy habits to have a comfortable workout session at the gym.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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