Gym is an abode of worship for the athletes. This is where they prepare their bodies for the various challenges in life. A normal gym gear exposes the body leaving the skin naked. Hence skin becomes vulnerable to the multitude of hazards in the gym. The various skin concerns can be received anytime, anywhere but if you are a regular gym goers, then chances are that your training area is responsible for the problems.
Concern no.1: Staph infection
Staph skin infections top the list of the most notorious skin concern for athletes at gym. Athletes are prone to damage or injuries to their skin. These make way for Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria present harmlessly on the skin as part of the normal flora to enter and causes staph skin infection. The infection may vary from mild to severe to sometimes fatal.
The infection caused by Staphylococcus is highly contagious and in a place like gym the risk is even higher. The various modes of transmission are skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, using gym gear and equipments of an infected person. A person though healthy but carrying cuts, bruises or wounds is susceptible to catching the infection via the above mentioned modes. Some common staph infections are impetigo, cellulitis, folliculitis and boils (furuncles). One of the most dangerous types of infection is MRSA.
Concern no.2: Fungal infections
Fungal infections are the most commonly found infections in athletes and most of them are contacted from the gym. The fungus dermatophytes, is capable of infecting all parts of the body from head-to-toe. Fungal infections include athletes’ foot and ringworm, the latter being more commonly annoying concern. The locker rooms, the shower rooms and the gym areas are the most infected areas. The athletes walking barefooted at these places are susceptible to getting fungal infections. As already discussed athletes skin is compromised by a number of factors. The hygiene standards of the gym are not certain- they may or may not be cleaned every time. Therefore, preventing ringworm is the only cure. As a preventive measure, they should keep their skin dry and clean. Moisture-licking socks and sweat laden clothes become breeding ground for the ringworm. Using anti-fungal powder, good athletic soap and wearing clean clothes after taking shower help in evading ringworm. Some over-the-counter products too can help. Preventing ringworm infection ensures enjoyable gym training.
Concern no.4: Molluscum contagiosum
Another skin concern of athletes is Molluscum contagiosum. It is caused by a virus called molluscum virus. They produce lesions or bumps on the uppermost layers of the skin. Though the symptoms do not cause pain, it is the duration which that worries the diseased, though it varies from person-to-person. The virus may last anywhere between two months to four years. It is highly infectious. A direct contact with the lesion of the infected person or using contaminated items like towels or any other piece of clothing of the infected person can transfer the infection to a healthy person. Contact sports are the most vulnerable games that spread the infections among the players. It can get transferred from one part of the body to another by scratching, touching and shaving the bump and then touching other part of the body without washing the hands. Personal hygiene and attentiveness in the gym is required to prevent the skin infection.
Concern no.4: Herpes Papilloma virus
Herpes Papilloma virus or HPV causes warts in humans. They can spread from person-to person by skin contact through an already broken skin. Other modes of transmission are sharing equipments with infected persons and walking barefooted in the locker room or shower room. Plantar wart or verruca is the most common type of wart found in athletes. It can be seen on the feet and the hands especially on the pressure points on the soles of the feet. Warts can also be seen on the mouth and the genital areas. If left untreated it can cause cervical cancer in woman and pineal cancer in men.
Concern no.5: Streptococcus
Streptococcus is responsible for upper respiratory infections in athletes. The bacteria are contagious and are capable of transmitting the disease from one person to another through airborne droplets, contact, doorknobs, handles and a host of other surfaces. In a gym, locker rooms, sweat laden equipments, saunas, drinking bottles are the breeding grounds of the bacteria, Streptococcus sp. It can cause blisters, cellulitis, impetigo apart from throat and inner ear infection. The bacteria are capable of causing fatal pneumonia.
To ward off these skin concerns, the athletes should
- Stay away from the gym, if carrying infection
- Should shower immediately once the body cools down after a training session
- Always use personal clothing and gear
- Insist on cleanliness of the training equipments
Take your precautions and enjoy training!