Going to the gym can certainly cause more harm than good if you’re ever exposed to one of the many fungal infections that are ever present in training facilities. Avoiding coming into contact with such fungus is a matter of understanding how to avoid infections and what precautionary steps to take to protect yourself. Additionally, it is wise to know what symptoms to look for so you can immediately fix a problem as soon as you recognize one. Here is a closer look at some of the most common infections and what you can do to effectively avoid them.
Ringworm is prevalent on gym mats where fungus thrives easily. Warmth, wetness, and humidity can make mats one of the most infectious surfaces at your gym. Athletes who work regularly with mats including wrestlers and boxers are even more at risk because abrasions and cuts can spread fungus onto the surface. Ringworm infections look like a strange rash that is scaly with pus in the center. Often, it is itchy and can lead to athlete’s foot which is another popular fungal infection.
Impetigo is most common on surfaces that have been exposed to an abrasion of some kind. The bacteria from open sores can cause small blisters that are tender to the touch. Often, they appear as reddish chicken pox, but will be filled with pus. This pus can also spread the infection to other gym goers if it gets onto the surface of gym equipment. For this reason, many gyms encourage members to sanitize any and all equipment before use. Especially because you can never be too sure that everyone has top notch hygiene habits.
While many people associate herpes with being only sexually transmitted, it can be just as easily transferred between individuals in a gym environment. Many people mistake herpes for eczema at first glance, but the pus filled sores can quickly populate and become increasingly painful. Weeping sores can transfer the fungus to any surface they touch so it is crucial to keep all of the gym equipment you use as clean as possible.
This fungal infection is most commonly found in feces. Gym bathrooms can be ridden with this kind of bacteria especially with the poor hygiene that many people find habitual. In even small cases of klebsiella, there can be painful infections that result including urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
Staphylococcus Aureus, more commonly known as Staph, is a popular skin infection that is prevalent in many gyms. What may appear as a mild rash in the beginning, Staph infections spiral out of control if not treated promptly. One of the most common ways to attract a Staph infection is by sharing items like razors or towels.
Tips to Stay Safe
Avoiding deadly fungal infections when you go to the gym is a matter of common sense. You can never be too careful when it comes to sanitation and hygiene. Here are just some of the many things you can do to protect yourself:
- Don’t share things like towels, razors, combs, etc.
- Avoid direct skin contact on surfaces where fungus is prevalent such as showers, swimming pools, saunas, and locker rooms
- Avoid touching your face while working out; touching gym equipment that many people have used and then making contact with eyes, mouth, or nose can spread germs and ultimately cause fungal infections
- Don’t share drinks with anyone who seems to have sores or weeping of any kind
- Don’t shower or do cosmetic shaving of any kind at the gym if you can avoid it
- Be consistent about sanitizing all gym equipment you use
- Shower before and after leaving the gym
- Always wear clean workout clothing and don’t store soiled clothing in warm areas or in a gym bag for extended periods of time
- Keep some anti-fungal shampoo on hand for the showers
- Have good hygiene
- Avoid direct contact with other gym goers, especially those who appear to have sores, rashes, or lesions of any kind
- Regularly sanitize any mats you use and make sure they are thoroughly dry before resuming use
- Bring your own water and try to avoid using public drinking fountains
- Never walk barefoot on any gym surface
- Don’t ignore any questionable symptoms; what may appear as a simple rash, fever, or uncomfortable itch may potentially be a fungal infection that can spread if not treated right away
Remember, handy products like gym wipes go a long way towards keeping all manner of disgusting things off your body. But if you do happen to come into contact with a fungal infection, it is important to get treated right away. Most of the time, there are antibiotics that can be taken to reduce pain, restore your health, and rid your body of any infection. Next time you go to the gym; remember the things you can do to avoid fungal infections and encourage your fellow gym friends to do the same.