There’s nothing more aggravating than getting sick while trying to stay healthy. “Common infections to be aware of are skin and soft-tissue infections caused by MRSA or other bacteria; plantar warts caused by viruses like HPV; and fungal skin infections, like athlete’s foot or ringworm,” says Donald Chen, MD, hospital epidemiologist at Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). “These are spread by contact with a surface harboring the organisms: gym equipment, gym benches, locker-room floors, shower floors or shared surfaces.” In warm, moist environments, these organisms thrive.
Dr. Chen recommends the following prevention tips:
• Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer during and after workouts. You may even want to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer, to make hand hygiene more convenient.
• Avoid going barefoot in the locker room or shower; wear flip-flops or shower sandals.
• Avoid sharing towels, razors, ointments or sports gear.
• Wipe down gym equipment before and after use.
• Keep cuts or scrapes covered with a bandage until they heal.
• Post-workout, shower with soap and water, dry with a clean towel and change into clean clothes — then toss your used clothes and towels into the wash.
Do you have a health-related question for a WMCHealth physician or specialist? Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Just the Facts” in the subject heading. Your question may be featured in a future issue.