You visit the gym to maintain good health, but did you know it’s a breeding ground for germs? The locker room is a warm, moist area, and conditions are perfect for fungi and bacteria to thrive.
Here the skilled team of podiatrists at Optima Foot and Ankle in Bend, Oregon, explain how you can still get the benefits of your gym workout but avoid getting athlete’s foot and staph infections from the locker room with a few simple hygiene tips.
What is athlete’s foot, and how can I avoid it?
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus that loves the warm, moist environment of locker room showers and bathrooms. You get athlete’s foot by coming into contact with a surface contaminated with the fungus — simply walking barefoot in the locker room and showers is enough.
You know you have athlete’s foot if you have a scaly, itchy rash on your feet. Your feet might burn or have sores in between your toes.
Avoiding athlete’s foot involves minimizing your skin contact with the floors. Throw a pair of flip-flops into your gym bag, and wear them when you’re in the locker room and shower. When you’re getting dressed, stand on a towel to prevent contact with the floor.
Make sure you wash your feet thoroughly after exercising, paying special attention to the area between the toes. Dry your toes and feet completely before putting on clean socks and shoes.
If you do get athlete’s foot, an over-the-counter antifungal cream can get rid of it. If that doesn’t work, visit Optima Foot and Ankle for prescription medication. You can also treat the inside of your shoes with an antifungal foot powder to prevent recurring infection.
What is a staph infection, and how can I avoid it?
Staph infections are caused by a bacterium found on many people’s skin. The bacterium is generally harmless, but if you have a cut, hangnail, or even ingrown hair, it can find its way into your bloodstream and infect your heart or lungs.
Staph infection symptoms include red, painful, and swollen boils on the skin. Treatment involves draining the infection or antibiotics — sometimes both are needed. Some types of staph infections, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are resistant to antibiotic treatment.
To reduce your risk of contracting a staph infection, wear those flip-flops when you’re in the locker room and shower, and place a towel on the bench when you sit down to put on your shoes. If you have a cut or open wound, keep it clean and covered while you're at the gym.
If you suspect you have athlete’s foot or a staph infection, or if you’re concerned about another foot condition, call Optima Foot and Ankle or schedule an appointment online today.